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Category: Home Decor

the blue door house tour: the patio

Let me begin by saying that I’m just as surprised as you are that this space is somewhere close to complete a couple of months after moving in – taking almost a year to decide to paint an accent wall and taking over a year to finish an office when I WORK FROM HOME has traditionally been my speed. All the before and afters are below + a full source list at the bottom of the post!

small patio before and after

Here’s where we landed right after moving in. Our chairs from our tiny apartment patio were holding up pretty well, considering they aren’t technically outdoor chairs and that they got pretty intense afternoon sun. The little blue rug was obviously way too small for this space. The plants and their shelving unit somehow survived the move. The shelving unit is just an old thing from Ikea, but the size and utility is pretty perfect for what we need. 

concrete pad patio makeover

Here you’ll notice our charming view of the air conditioning unit and a receptacle we use for Finn’s…things. Sometimes spaces have an ideal focal point. This is the opposite of that. 

I toyed with the ideal of creating an outdoor dining space, but felt 1) I didn’t like the idea of a table and chairs blocking the flow of traffic from inside to the grassy part of the yard and 2) we’d probably get more use out of a casual lounge-y space. So, I set out to find some furniture and decor that wouldn’t break the bank, fit the space, and might help us block the unappealing view. 

 

 

concrete pad patio makeover

We did it! In case you missed this post a few weeks back, we constructed some posts set in planters to frame out the space with string lights. The lights pop on at dusk thanks to a magical timer that I am pretty sure Matt ordered from Diagon Alley, but he insists it was Amazon. 

concrete pad patio makeover

I kept the furniture and accessories super neutral, letting almost all of the color come from flowers and plants. The bougainvillea makes me SO happy and is growing so quickly. I mixed in varying heights, colors, and textures of plants that do well in full, hot sun in the planters for an organic look. True life: I snapped these pictures like the day after I planted everything because I was so worried I was going to kill them all. Turns out having really low expectations of yourself can sometimes pay off, because I proved myself wrong and everything is thriving. 

Can we talk about this rug? I LOVE it. I love the clean lines and the slightly different take on the black and white stripes. I also LOVE that Target let me buy the only one left in town on sale + an additional discount because I bought the slightly dingy floor model. The thing about these rugs is that they can be hosed down and then dried out in the sun, so I did that when I brought it home and it looked good as new. It also works great for two or three or twelve hundred muddy paw prints. This luckily hasn’t been a huge issue since we’re in the middle of a hot dry summer, but seriously every time I just hose it down and everything comes right off. 

 

concrete pad patio makeover

Hard to pick the star of the show, JUST KIDDING it’s obviously this daybed/bench/sofa situation. When I found this on sale at World Market, I knew it’d be the perfect solution to help us block the AC unit view. It was also gorgeous, the price was so good, the scale was great, and it coordinated so well with our current chairs. It’s got a nice deep seat and an outdoor cushion, but I treated the cushion cover with this in the hopes to extend its life. So far it’s been a lovely spot to lay down and scroll through Instagram, I mean read a book.

It’s also a top notch spot to enjoy a glass of wine with the feet kicked up on the coffee table. This coffee table from Target caught my eye right away – I really liked its simplicity, interesting lines, and size. I worried that since it’s metal I’d be re-enacting the hot plate scene from SNL if I touched it during the summer, but since it’s powder-coated it hasn’t been a problem at all!

concrete pad patio makeover

We really love this functional space – it feels like an extension of our home and we are out here all the time. We will love it even more when I finally remember to buy an outdoor extension cord so that we can hide that strand of extra string light sockets. 😀

 

Sources:

MCM-style bench (sadly, sold out!!)

Coffee table  (on sale!)

Outdoor chairs (discontinued from Target)

White wire & terra cotta planter (on sale!)

String light posts/planters (DIY here)

16″ terra cotta pot

Copper side table 

Rug (on saleee!)

Shelving unit (similar)

String lights

Outdoor pillows (old from West Elm)

Concrete & wood planter

Wood tray

White ceramic candle holder

 

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i’m a big fan of citronella: my accidental trick to getting rid of mosquitoes

If you live anywhere with mosquitoes and with any sort of outdoor space you’d like to utilize between the months of May – October, this post is for you. If you live somewhere without mosquitoes then please 1) go away, 2) stop bragging, and 3) no one likes you. The truth hurts, but does it hurt more than the emotional pain of having to scratch a mosquito bite on the BOTTOM OF YOUR FOOT?

The way this post came to be was serendipitous. Kismet. Fate. Also known as an accident. I should preface by saying that mosquitoes love me. “Molly: it’s what’s for dinner” must have been the ad playing on their tiny little mosquito TV sets every night of their little mosquito childhood because they crave me. So a couple of weeks ago when we were hosting a small group at our place, I knew I wanted to attempt to de-mosquito-ify the patio so that we could hang out there for a bit and enjoy the string lights.

I had recently opened up a box of essential oils from Aroma Foundry, including their citronella oil. I figured I’d try a two-pronged anti-mosquito approach. 1) I’d diffuse the citronella oil in my essential oil diffuser (found here) and 2) I’d set up an oscillating fan (found here) because I felt like the breeze might cool us off and blow the mosquitos away. This is where the accident happened: by chance, I placed the diffuser behind the fan. When the fan was on, it sucked in the diffused citronella oil and gently blew it all over the patio as the fan oscillated. I swear to you, I did not get a single bite during the hour or so we hung out back there!

If mosquitos aren’t a problem for you, you’re probably like… “and?” (In which case, again I’d like to BID YOU GOOD DAY SIR.) But if you get covered in bites every dang time you walk out the door, I think you’ll understand my total glee and need to shout this pretty simple solution from the rooftops. There are so many perks. You likely already have both a diffuser and an oscillating fan laying around, and if you don’t, they’re just a quick order away. I love that this solution doesn’t leave anyone covered in sticky, gross-smelling bug spray. AND it uses cool air, not hot! I love the look of those citronella torch things (here’s one, if you have no idea what I’m talking about), but the last thing any Texan needs is the addition of more heat sources on their patio in the dead of summer. 

The citronella oil from Aroma Foundry worked wonderfully, but I’m wondering if any of the other scents that I’ve heard can work for mosquitoes might work just as well and smell even better — like basil or lemongrass. Aroma Foundry has an awesome selection of unique scents, so I might have to try out some of the others. They also come in cute lil cobalt bottles packed neatly and tightly, which certainly doesn’t hurt. Check them out if you’re in the market!

I will say, this did not help with flies one bit. I think mosquitoes far outweigh flies on the annoyance scale, but I do wish the fan would have staved off the flies. So I leave you with two questions: what’s your go-to mosquito solution? And any great tricks for getting rid of flies? 

 

This post is sponsored by Aroma Foundry. Thank you for supporting the brands that support ABA.

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a post on posts

Hello and welcome to a post on posts – renter-friendly posts for string lights that double as planters, that is. Did you get all that? It’s okay if you didn’t, because I’m probably going to write another 800 words on it. That’s how this works.

So, backing up: the Blue Door House has a lovely little 10′ x 12′ concrete grill pad that we wanted to utilize as a patio with seating for loungin and cocktailin and watching Finn sniff every square inch of the backyard. But all the cute patio furniture in the world couldn’t change the cold, hard truth of the matter: our lone tiny patio light just wasn’t gonna cut it. After the sun set, the backyard just wasn’t usable – it was too dark.

blue door house patio before

And honestly, what is a patio without string lights? But because we rent, we couldn’t just dig three feet down into the yard to set up posts for lights the way normal people do. So after some Pinterest perusing on how to build temporary posts (inspired by this post, and this one, and this one), we set off for Home Depot with a dream in our hearts and a willingness to ignore the heat index for the day. 

I kind of Frankensteined all of the how-to’s I read because none of them fit exactly what we were looking for. Here’s what we wanted: sturdy wood posts about 8′ high, planters big enough to hold the post as well as to be used for actual planting, and enough stability that we won’t worry about the whole thing coming down during a windy storm. Here’s how we did it:

temporary string light posts for renters

How to Build Temporary Posts for String Lights

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 8′ landscape timbers (We used two, one for each post.)
  • Medium terra cotta pots (One for each post. We used these 10″ ones.)
  • Large planters (One for each post. We used the white version of these, which are 18″ h x 22″ w)
  • 60 lb bags of Quikrete (One for each post. We used this fast-setting option.)
  • 60 lb bags of sand (1.5 for each post. We used this one.)
  • Painters tape
  • Cup hooks
  • Gloves
  • String lights (We used these.)
  • Potting soil and plants

Okay so right off the bat, this picture is confusing. That’s because we greatly, greatly, underestimated the size our largest pot needed to be. We thought we could get away with a 16″ terra cotta pot and all I can say is: nope. It was way too small and we could tell right away that it’d be easy to knock over. So, pretend that the large pot in the below photo is much larger. If you’re me, then the actual first step of this project is to get your butt back in the car and head to Home Depot for your second trip of the day to find a larger pot. My dad says the the true greatness of your project can be measured in how many trips to Home Depot it takes you to finish it, so I tried to see this as a good thing. 

temporary posts in planters

  1. Nestle your 10″ terra cotta pot into your large pot. 
  2. Then, nestle your 8′ landscape timber vertically into the 10″ pot.
  3. Position your post so that it is standing nice and straight.
  4. Put on your gloves before pouring the concrete.
  5. Pour half of the concrete bag into the terra cotta pot.
  6. Pour the second half of the concrete bag into the bottom of the large pot, around the base of your smaller pot.
  7. Add water to the concrete according to the bag’s instructions.
  8. Use painters tape around the post to hold it steady while the concrete dries.
  9. Allow the concrete to dry as long as necessary. We quadrupled the drying time because it was super humid the day we worked on this. Fun!
    temporary posts in planters
  10. After the concrete is dry, pour a bag and a half of sand into the bottom of the large planter, completely covering the small pot. temporary posts in planters
  11. Add potting soil and plants. Our patio gets full afternoon sun, so I chose plants that do well in our hot, sunny Austin weather.temporary string light posts for renters
  12. Screw your cup hooks into the top of the posts.
  13. Hang your string lights, leaving room for the bulbs to hang freely as it can be a fire hazard if the bulb rests against something.

That’s it! We are so thrilled with how these came out and how they’ve held up in an uncommonly wet Austin summer. They feel super sturdy and the posts are still nice and straight. Landscape timber isn’t meant for structural use, so we probably won’t hang anything much heavier than lights on them, but for this application we really like them. They were a fraction of the price of the cedar 4×4’s we were considering, and we also really like their rounded edges instead of the square edges of the 4×4’s..

temporary posts in planters for string lights

I’m also pretty obsessed with the lights we chose. (Found here.) They put off SO much light, but it’s warm and not blindingly bright. The shape of the Edison bulb is so pretty and I don’t worry about these getting rained on or hanging out in the hot sun as they are rated for outdoor/commercial use. They also came packed so nicely and with a few extra bulbs in case one breaks at some point. A not-at-all pro tip: hang your light string first, then screw in the bulbs to avoid unnecessarily breaking bulbs. 

DIY posts for string lights

Stay tuned for a full patio reveal soon, and let me know if you have any questions or if you’re working on anything fun over at your house. What’s your record for trips to Home Depot per project? 

Instructions on how to make string light posts with planters. Great for renters!

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