Saturday, May 3, 2008

Please boss me around.


I need advice on my backyard.

I am going to have a new stone patio installed. I have been looking around at different kinds of stone... I liked some sort of bluestone and I thought I might like it installed with an irregular patterns, but honestly, I am starting to get decision paralysis because there are so many options and I have been dreaming of de-ghetto-ifying my backyard for so long now that, well, I would probably say "Yes!" to the first not-horrible option I come across.

Landscape designer guy says he is drawing up plans and might build stone planter box thingies along the wall so that I can actually plant all that mint, rosemary, lavender, jasmine, etc etc. Plus it will cover up the cement business on the bottom of the house.

That weird wood strip above the door is where I used to have an awning dangling off the house... the real estate agent just tore it off since it managed to make the back of the house look worse (hard to believe).

I am not painting the door red. That was a bad idea gone worse (I am going to blame whatever I was drinking before Lillet). I am going to paint the door and the windows that really exciting brown to match the gutters (unless anyone has a better idea).

I *would* like to get a new awning for right over the door and I really want black & white stripe, but I am not sure that would work. Also, I am obsessed with wisteria and think I might ask the landscape guy to build a pergola thingy and train wisteria on it... right over that doorway section. What does everyone think?

The cable thing handing down over the windows will be re-mounted up and out of sight, and the electrician is also going to be called to come repair that old broken fixture above the door.

The chairs and the table are staying... the table is teak and 2 years old, the chairs I just got in March from David Smith & Co here in Seattle, also teak. Love me some teak since it will stand up to the rain here in Seattle.

The vintage baby bath is staying (though maybe not there). Those plants inside it need to be planted. The baby bath is actually just going to be our big ice bucket when we have people over for food and drink in my new-fangled backyard this summer.

Ok - - please start bossing me around. I need opinions on the stone, the wisteria/pergola/awning decision, etc etc.



Here are some random photos from the neighborhood... will any of these work? Or am I making a mistake not considering a more orderly pattern for the stone?



44 comments:

lynne said...

I love the irregular stone idea-looks pretty, easy to care for, and maybe good drainage, too.
I too am dreaming of building a pergola/arbor thing over my patio-would you go just over the door or high and over the windows, too? As far as color goes, I tend toward contrast-I'd pick white trim and a lightish blue door. Is that gross?
Oh, and I like the wisteria idea. I also like morning glory and trumpet flower vines, but those are annuals here. (And probably there, too.)
Good luck!

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

They don't call it crazy paving for nothin'.
Have you ever seen a mix of different sized rectangles laid in a staggered pattern (like bricks) with a scented thyme planted in between? Very effective, I think.

BTW - I would do the stone in the same colour family as the trim. Have you ever thought of a black with a slate? The bluestone works well with the grey house, but with the brick? And I would keep all your quirky bits too.

Anonymous said...

In SoCal we call this fieldstone. My daughter has historical home with this surface with brick trim. Quite a nice contrast, I think. It looks from your pic that you had a deep border around the door. Is it just my laptop? I would widen surround, beef up that door way and then paint Benjamin Moore "French Beret"...a soft slate grey that would pick up the flavor of the cement and fieldstone. Black would be too strong of contrast, but the zincish grey would be great with LARGE plants of green with white flowers for pop. By the way, the fieldstone has terracotta hits to relate to your brick. Just a thought...fun to put in my 1cent worth. Charlie's Grandma

Anonymous said...

I like the quirky bits too. But I'd add some real scale. Get a goodsized potted Japanese maple, for color and scale. Maybe paint a galvanized pail, or buy a large terracotta one. It should thrive in Seattle. I'd paint the door and the trim a glossy black, or very dark green as with the window
casings and trim. And I'm not wild about the totally broken stone in an urban setting. Stone floating in gravel laid over a good bed of sand over crushed rock with sand seems to be the best drainage option. But if you want plants(irish moss, saxifrage, thyme) growing in between your stones, you'll have to set them in a dirt bed. I saw a garden book where the stones were floated in grass, in very modernist pattern, which seemed easy to do and maintainable. You have seemed like someone who likes retro modern stuff in general. What about a bunch of circular pavers, like dots, or zigzags of stone in gravel?? Wisteria is great and smells heavenly if you are religious about pruning, but don't do it otherwise, as it will destroy the wall of your house eventually.

morrismore said...

The pergola could hide the area around the door that appears to be discolored; if it's high enough it could make that more of an entrance. Speaking of which, have you thought of replacing the door with a paned glass door? That might make it look more welcoming... The wisteria is great, but anonymous 10:54 is right--wisteria can break things apart if you're not careful.

As for the stone, have you thought about breaking up the existing stone so that it appears to be stones and planting between the breaks? That would be more immediate, and much less expensive.

In both gardens and interiors, I'm torn between a stark last century look and an over the top, more is more, look. So... don't shoot me, but how about some real wicker, painted black?

Anonymous said...

i absolutely love bluestone, i love the irregular pattern, perhaps with a hint of grass growing in between them. i would suggest that when painting the door and windows you pick a color that contrasts with the house. perhaps a green, blue, with white trim. i love the planter boxes idea- great for cooking. and a pergola would look great!

Anonymous said...

Get the trim painted (door and window) and you will not believe how much better it will look.

LOVE those big old black pots flanking the door. I would marry you to get those pots.

mrlfvl said...

Love the irregular stone, but I'd take it a step further than your neighbors and go more rough. Like this:
http://www.stoneyard.com/stone/product/fgmfr.html
the thumbnails show it better. I agree with anon 10:46 about a gray door - maybe Ben Moore Boothbay Gray, then black trim on the windows. I also love the idea of "covering" up the concrete on the walls beside the door, although I wonder if it would be possible to get moss to grow on it instead? I have no clue how feasable that would be or if it would be an utter pain in the rear to maintain, but it sure would look cool. Love all of your planters and pots and things.

Lyndsey said...

The previous owners trained wisteria on several trees on my property, but now its out of control. Like others mentioned, it can be extremely damaging. From my personal experience, I would not recommend planting it near your house.

mrlfvl said...

Ok - here's an idea that I think would look so cool, but is hard to explain, so I apologize if it seems totally cracked-out. You could get 2 deep teak benches - like 32" deep - and put them on either side of the back door and clip the corners of the benches at the door - so yoou don't end up with a crazy little "hallway" effect to the door. Then, you could put planters - like 12" deep - on top of the benches up against the concrete to cover it up. That way, you get some seating from the benches, but you get the height from the planters to cover the concrete. Does that make any sense at all?

perchance said...

What if you laid out some kind of outline pattern with paver bricks and then filled in with the bluestone? To give the backyard some bones. You haves lots and lots of "round" - table, pots, etc. Try some square planters maybe. If the budget and space allow, a rectangular table would be great. You could put the round one centered close to the door, almost like a hall table. That could round up all of your little pots nicely and create that indoors-outside look. I'm a huge fan of glossy black doors for traditional houses, and I'm also throwing my hat in the ring for a pergola.

Decorno said...

THIS is why I love all the people who read and comment. You guys have great ideas.

I am going to digest this while I let my fingers defrost (I just watched the Windemere Cup regatta and the parade of boats (see last post) and I am freezing. I excitedly walked home thinking, "I bet those Decornophiles have suggestions for me," and looky here... you do. Thanks!


Joni - are you out there? I am going to need your advice, too.

(P.S. - Hi Charlie's grandma! Charlie is the cutest!)

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

And, I just noticed the cement. What about trellis running along those two sections and on either side of the door (which seems oddly narrow, can this be widened?) forming the uprights of a pergola. Capped off by a zinc awning. Planted with Virginia Creeper and a couple of climbing roses?

Decorno said...

mrlfvl - yes, that makes sense. Very interesting idea.

mrlfvl said...

I agree with you on the awning idea too - I think you need one to break up that wall. If I can remember to do it, I will drive by a friend's house on the way to work on Monday and take a shot of her awning & send it to you - it is so very cool...

d.Sharp said...

For the door and window trim, I love a deep charcoal/with a bit of smoky blue/purple with the brick red. Nothing bright, but enough color to not be just grey.

You can stain the cement foundation a darker tone. It could look nice to flank each side of the door with those large oval galvanized horse troughs for container gardening. They come up high enough to effectively block the view of much of the foundation.

Sucker For Marketing said...

If you do the stone stuff, be sure to use bigger pieces of stone like in the second photo in your neighborhood...too many little stones will be so busy, I think.

Definitely paint the door and trim right away, that will make all the difference in the world. No on the pergola unless you are going to extend it out over the patio, then you could hang a cool outdoor chandelier thing from it.

You could also stain the cement on the patio and paint the cement on the bottom of the house the same color as your door and trim. I don't even notice it, and I think you wouldn't have to change it at all.

Enough of my rambling on!

Cote de Texas said...

Hi- I would like to see a picture of your backyard looking out to get a bigger picture of your space. that said - I wonder if you could put a pergola somewhere in the back to frame a view looking out from your back door? As for your house- I would paint the door and trim glossy black and paint the cement on the house black and put up a black and white awning for contrast. you know - you have to work with what you have and you have a deep red brick house. I think the black and white would be a great contrast to the red. The only other color I would consider would be a mossy green on the cement and the trim and door. But that's me. I would go with a darker stone than the bluestone, like black slate and do the patio in squares, not irregular and border it with matching red brick - make your backyard a "room" - your house is square-ish and I think a more orderly shaped patio would be the most classic and match your house the best. I would use iron urns painted glossy black with clipped box in them. When I look at the picture and your house - I see a classic, orderly, courtyard with 45 degree angles - a big square with urns at the corners - maybe even a series of patios - one in the back part of the yard. I hope this helps. And keep the wisteria off your house - we just removed ours after 15 years - rats!!! omg - gross!!!!!

jen said...

I was TOTALLY going to say some kind of pergola-like thing with some vines over the door even before you said you wanted something over the door. DO NOT GET AN AWNING. You have beautiful brick and I think something graceful and natural (and viney) would really soften up the door and go with your great patio furniture and pots and baby tub (love that!).

As for the pavers--I am a sucker for slate because I love the randomness of it and it's warm in the sun but not too warm. Love it.

As for the door, don't go brown. It needs something really crisp and fresh. Am I crazy or would a great cobalty blue be nice?

Anonymous said...

I don't see Decorno as an orderly, clipped-boxwood, crisp-squares kind of gal. And I dig the idea of using some irregular/less-predictable geometry to play a little bit against the square quality of the house and the bricks.

little miss said...

1. I'm on the bandwagon of painting the trim charcoal/gray -- there are so many color intonations in gray that could let you go in a variety of directions. I think also painting the foundation/concrete will help it lessen its presence.
2. The discoloring: have you tried power washing that wall for a quick bit? It might be able to clean it up, but I think the awning would be a fun addition. Photoshop it miss d!
3. Stones: I'd go for something darker, and I think you could go irregular sizes, or, personally, I would go for bigger size regular-cut stones. I have always loved adding a filler plant/moss in the cracks. Generally formal, but less rigid.
3a. Actually, I used basalt (native to portland, and perhaps seattle?) in a design competition, and generally love it. no idea on cost though.
4. I think Domino actually had a garden a couple of months ago that I loved -- even though its far more formal than I would go. I think its in the general realm you're aiming for --- or, on the other hand, something to run away from.
5. and yes, you need a little more square to your current round/circles. (low square planters would be great!)

phew, long-winded much? sorry 'bout that.

Mary T. said...

Morrismore -- how does that work? You must share! We too have a completely horrible, ghetto-ized backyard of poured concrete and your idea intrigues me!

what's in a name? said...

I agree with glossy black for the trim...and I just put in a bluestone patio this past week and I have to say, I LOVE IT! I was all for the irregular shape when we started the process because I thought it was more organic looking, but went with the large sized squares and rectangles. It has a lot of grey in it and I think it would look great with the red brick and black trim and door.

As far as an awning goes, I used to go gaga for them, but am over it. I think a pergola is the way to go to make it more like an extension of the house/outdoor room rather than just a cute frame for the doorway.

The stone planters sound nice and the rest of your stuff is very fun and cool!

decorno said...

WIAN - can you send me photos of your new patio? I am dying to see more examples of what people have done that they love...

that goes for ALL of you.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

An awning might be too cutesy, at least a striped awning. I'd hold off until you've completed other things, to see if you even need it.

Sacheverelle said...

Hey I am putting in a bluestone patio too, starting next week.
We went with different size rectangles & tampering vs setting in concrete because the concrete is more involved & my guy said that would require installing drains with runoff pipes & stuff, more money. He also that the broken-up stone like in your pic has bigger gaps between the stones & for that reason is harder to walk on with heels. My yard slopes down toward the house where the patio will be so we are putting in in a retaing/sitting wall which will be some kind of engineered fake stone since my contractor said the fieldstone wall I wanted would be way more than I can afford. Anyway, this is the stone I bought:
http://www.rocksmith.net/images/blue_stone_patio.jpg

http://files.servicemagic.com/files/eid/4380000/4389603/BlueStone-Patio.172880.jpg

Anonymous said...

I like the irregular stone idea, and I like the awning idea. I think what the space is lacking is color. That being said, I would not paint the door brown, but rather a color and paint the window trim, as well. I would also put up a few trellises with flowering plants. Right now it all looks too neutral, and you just need to brighten it up.

erika - urban grace interiors said...

Decorno-
Great ideas! I'd go with black door and windows over the brown- just to pop off (more contrast) the red brick a little more. love the awning idea - i'm a big fan of a black and white awning - saw one in new orleans (a really dramatic cool one) - i posted a photo of it - i'll try and email it to you. it just needs to be installed higher than your original one was - it'll look great if high enough above the door. i think you are off to a great start... love the idea of planters up around the lower concrete section... wisteria spreads like wild fire- have you considered jasmine? might not grow there - mine is in bloom and heavenly!
thanks for sharing your back yard!
erika

Laura said...

My two cents . . . there is a gorgeous dark, dark greenish black color that a lot of the magazines show for exterior doors and trim that I think would look fabulous on your door and windows. It would play well with your existing red brick and the greenery of your plants. (I'm not at home this weekend or I could give you the exact color name.) What about a new back door? Or new back door hardware? I would do 2 large-scale lantern sconces on either side of your door to really define the area. A new (or vintage) rectangular table with your existing 4 chairs around it and 2 new/vintage ones to use at each end of the table. Have you thought about a stamped, stained concrete pad? My friend just had one poured, and it looks great. She had it scored to look like 2 foot square tiles and the color pigment is mixed in before the cement is poured. There is a lot of irregular texture and color variation, so it looks very authentic and not cheesy. Best of luck!

Laura said...

Oh, and in my area (the southeast), poured and stamped cement is more economical than bluestone/flagstone.

Anonymous said...

Dark green for the doors and trim: Good thought!

Tara said...

I hope I'm not repeating, but you should make sure your landscaper guy leaves the proper amount of space between the top of the foundation (that concrete business) and the brick. I'd imagine that Seattle isn't too different than Portland in there being a building code for a certain number of inches between the top of the soil and the top of the exposed foundation and it would suck if you had to tear out stuff to fix that whenever you sell your place.

CSS said...

We went through something similiar recently. Paint the door and the window trim in a gloss - You must do this (it wil also help protect from wood rot)! I love the fun door colors Kelly Wearstler did in Modern Glamour (persimmon or leafy green)-Yum. If you can't afford to break up the patio and lay down a new one, then paint it with porch paint and during the warmer months lay down an outdoor rug (they make great sisal looking ones). My husband just built us a trellis for the front and back of our house...I can send you pics and what to buy at the Home Depot if you want. It looks great and you can customize for each wall (not a Golden Girls like trellis)! If you can get someone to build it for you, it doesn't take too long!

CSS said...

Also, you need a new light fixture!

Decorno said...

Thank you Tara - I did not know that! :)

Decorno said...

Cas: Yep. I am already planning on getting a new patio. That light fixture will also be addressed. I indicated both in my post.

Thanks for the tips on the glossy paint. You are right - that is a must! :)

pve design said...

Decorno-
"Patron" here to boss you around "outside"- So let's take it outside....
Make a "stone seat wall" flanking either side of the door. Plant behind the wall herbs as if this is off your kitchen, you can easily go out and pick your herbs to release that inner Julia Child within. Plant some perennials to give it an upscale look and they come back each year, sometimes need to be moved til they are just right.
I like a regular pattern, we had that irregular pattern and it can be "messy"- being that I like things more ordered. Big Metal pots, black or paint the trim Brewster Gray or Black. Add some lights as you said you would and a string of lights for nightime sparkle and torches add a sort of cool hip happening vibe which we know you've got without saying.
I will do some sketches for you as I designed my patio and love it. Think areas, area for eating, for reading, for plants, for the birds, - just as you would any room.
Now get to work, or 4o lashes with a banana fern!
Patron PvE

Anonymous said...

The irregular stone with the brick may be a too busy. Blue stone also comes in block or brick style - you could still keep it casual and grow grass or moss between the pavers which would be laid in a pleasing but not too crazy pattern.

Wanderluster said...

If you want to see a kick-ass pergola, you MUST check out what DIY Diva did with her place: http://diydiva.net/2007/05/31/badass-pergola-complete/

Cote de Texas said...

D: I'm just worried about the bluestone with the trim color you are going to use - you should look into black slate. I looked at alots of pictures of it online last night, worrying about your project, yes, I am that sick, I am worrying about your project! And I'm with PVA about the irregular vs regular. Also I love the idea of the brick lining the slate - it defines the borders and is very orderly and neat looking, and it matches the style of your house. I still love the awning idea though and of course - the lanterns. But PVE is right about lights! I have an iron trellis against my back fence where roses grow and I have lights strung along the trellis - it is wonderful at night. So festive.
AND longterm plan: last year we installed outdoor lighting in the front and back and it was the best thing we've done to our house. It's so beautiful. It's expensive, sort of, so it would be something to think about in the future. The results are phenomenal though.

decorno said...

Joni - I love that you are worrying FOR me. :)

I have been thinking a lot about the stone and I think you are right... I am going to try to find a bunch of photos tonight in magazines and online and post them for a round-two review of patio options. I don't want to make any mistakes with this. That damn stone is too expensive to screw up on!

Anonymous said...

Thoughts:

1. Please don't paint the door brown! It will blend into the brick and you won't see it at all. Big fan of the red, myself. But if you're not, I think a deep, strong "goldenrod"-y color on the door and frame and new oil-rubbed bronze hardware for the lock. Oil-rubbed bronze will wear with time & use - exposing the bronze where it is touched and deepening the patina where it is not.

2. Landscape plans - be sure you're sitting down when they bring the quote. Have a few bottles of Lillet or your favorite whiskey handy. Got the quotes last year to have a "patio" done in our backyard. Almost cheaper to buy a new house with landscaping already in place.

3. Door awning - very june Cleaver. If you're going for the cocktail-dress-and-kitten-heels-pitcher-of-martinis set, please carry on. I suggest building a small, wooden gabled "awning" ( I can't think of the right word) over the door with small support columns - 1/2 columns against the house and full 4x4s at the outer supports.. The light fixture can be moved from the high spot on the wall to the underside of the awning.

4. Wisteria...Hoo boy! Wisteria will kill everything in its path. You'll never be rid of it. It's Plant Dracula. You think you give it a nice place to live, some sun, and it'll be happy. Nope. It wants your house. You'll wake up and it'll be in your bed. Then it's eatin' your left overs and sending you out for a 6-pack and another bag of chips. Think this one through. Get a freakin' J-O-B, you freakin' plant!

5. Bluestone.. Is a great choice. We trip over the stuff out here in PA. It's actually the same price as "artificial" concrete bluestone paver out here. Big fan of this stuff.

6. You didn't get the car on blocks in the frame, but you should remove that, too. We sent our's to Purple Heart. Be we still got the 'fridge and washing machine out there.

7. Table & chairs are aces.

Anonymous Hardware Man

ZincConcepts.com said...

Hey Decorno - What does the rest of the outside look like? Front back sides etc. I have some ideas based on the one photo .. but more would be helpful - are they posted here somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Best Commenter Award (Again):

Anonymous Hardware Man!