Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Great Outdoors

So something strange happened in Portland this past weekend. Something that hasn't happened in such a long time that its occurrence had almost become something of an urban legend in these parts. It was sunny and WARM at the same time! Pasty and pale citizens still hanging on to their Winter weight poured out of their houses in all manner of Summer dress. Most were squeezed into some form of tank top that was lying on top of the Summer clothing box that has been stored in the basement for the past, oh, nine months or so. At least I was. While enjoying my first grilled meal of the season that did not also involve a sweatshirt and/or umbrella I happened to have a chance to look around my yard. Now, I love my yard. I don't say this to brag, because I can take just about no credit at all for it's gloriousness as everything beautiful about my yard is due to hours of sweaty manual labor executed by my husband. However, since I do love looking at gardens and flowers and design magazines so much, I'm constantly imagining new and fabulous projects for him to complete. We have a wood pergola that comes off the back of our house, covering a concrete slab patio. This is where our grill and table live and not a whole lot else. It's got plants and a few large Blue Atlas Cedars shading the area in and about every other Summer we remember to wrap some outdoor, white Christmas lights around the beams to give the place a warm glow. A couple of months back I bought a rusty old metal chandelier-type contraption that holds perfectly 6 tea light candles, but other than that the decor is pretty spare. Then I saw this:

Now, just to clarify, our slab of patio looks nothing like this photo. It's neither as large nor as fancy and my rusty old chandelier is actually rusty, not "antiqued". That said, I'm in love with the thatching that covers the space. While we have trees to provide shade, they don't make it feel like an outdoor room. And this time of year an outdoor room feels like such a luxury. Plus there are lots of variations of thatched fencing that are inexpensive and would look dynamite as an outdoor roof. So this is my husband's new project. I've collected a few other inspiring outdoor rooms that I like to think will be a someday project too.

This one has the same great thatch roof, but takes the outdoor kitchen theme to a whole different level.

I adore the idea of a sleeping porch. It makes me reminisce about the childhood Summer camp I never went to. My real memory of Summer camp involves some muddy, mosquito infested backwoods shack in Louisiana with mean counselors and no ice. I like this concept much better:

As far as cozy, inviting outdoor patio rooms go, these are perfect because they actually seem like something a normal person with a normal salary could replicate in their own space:

This one is a great choice if you live in an abandoned cement factory in, like, Italy:

But for all-out fabulous patio fantasies, this one takes my cake:

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