Outdoor Oasis

Because beauty on the outside matters, too

Whenever I see  a naked balcony, deck, patio, or porch, I daydream about how I would decorate it and all the uses for the space. Sprawling redwood deck? Maybe lounge seating in crisp colors, a fire pit, and festive lanterns for nighttime soirees.  Urban patio? I might go with a small bistro table and chair set plus a vertical wall garden for my morning breakfast spot.

The way I walk through neighborhoods claiming other people’s outdoor spaces as my own probably borders on kooky, especially given that it took me three years to transform my own balcony into a cozy, livable outdoor room.

I’ve seen enough porches and balconies used for storage to know that I’m not alone here.  Sometimes, even when we buy our home because we love the outdoor space that comes with it, we get so busy hanging art and painting walls inside, that we put our gardens and patios on the back burner indefinitely.

“I think a lot of people get overwhelmed,” says Annette Gutierrez, co-owner of Potted, an outdoor-living destination shop in Los Angeles whose tagline is, Indoor Style for Outdoor Living.   “They think, ‘Oh my god, I have so much to do.’ And then they don’t do anything, which is a huge mistake.”

Gutierrez, a self-described plant junkie and lover of all things pretty, says the outside can be dressed up just as much as the inside.

“But if you want everything to be perfect, instant gratification, it’s going to cost you a lot more than if you’re willing to do things in stages,” she says.

For her own 1908 Craftsman, she started with the front yard because it’s important to her that the first thing she sees when she comes home is pleasant and inviting.

“I did not have money when I first got this house to go ok, we’re xeriscaping!” she says. “What I did was I took it in chunks.  I went, ‘Ok, I’m doing this corner,’ and I made that corner the best I could make it at that time.”

Sometimes, that transformation involved hacking out old vegetation, creating a bed, and putting in new plants from the Home Depot—simple fixes that made a big impact.

Don’t wait until all your landscaping is complete to start creating and decorating your outdoor living spaces.

So, landscaping, yes! But don’t wait until all your landscaping is complete to start creating and decorating your outdoor living spaces.

A porch or a patio can be instantly (and inexpensively) transformed with an outdoor rug and a simple chair with a fresh coat of paint.

If you have a little more in your budget, you’ll definitely want to hit up Potted (pottedstore.com) for some key pieces that will bring pretty and modern functionality to your porch, patio, balcony, garden, or deck.

At the very least, you’ll need somewhere to perch (so you can enjoy your outdoor space and take a load off your feet), somewhere to place your drink (because, of course), and something decorative (because you love pretty as much as we do.)

  Our favorite trio:

We love the Hoop Chair. You don’t have to have a mid-century modern home or style to appreciate the simple design of this beauty. It’s easy to move around, easy to care for, and it comes in beautiful colors that can make your space sing. Plus, ladies, it’s round. How can you not love a round chair?

Stand The Midge directly next to your Hoop Chair and adorn her tiled surface with a small, potted succulent. Her 20” diameter top will still leave room for your wine glass.

Hang a trailing succulent from the eaves with a Circle Pot. The ceramic clay circle has a flat bottom to keep your plants steady. It comes with an 18” stainless steel cord, and the team at Potted will drill a drainage hole if you ask them to.

Gutierrez suggests playing with color to add another layer to the repetition of circles.

“You could pull in a chartreuse Circle Pot with a white Hoop Chair, and maybe a chartreuse Midge, and you’ll have this nice rhythm going that will just make you happy,” she says. “Put it in a really small balcony in a high rise apartment and you’re going to feel like you have a little oasis out there.”

Yes, do this. And allow me to warn you  in advance that should my neighborhood walk take me past your home, I will covet your balcony.

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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