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Beautiful Outdoor Spaces

Happy July 4th! It's truly the season of outdoor living, barbecues and entertaining and we've been working to spruce up our backyard to make it more inviting and a place we actually want to hang out in!

We've lived in our current home for 18 years, and over time, our backyard has been through a few refurbishments. None of them big until this past fall, when we decided a major overhaul was necessary. My husband & I have gone back and forth on what our goals for the space were, and we had some major differences to work out. He wanted a lawn, while I wanted to go drought tolerant and low maintenance.

Considering the size of most Southern California yards, ours is large by most standards. We live on a street that curves uphill at the side of our property, so we have one of the largest lots in our neighborhood, just under 10,000 square feet, which affords us a nice sized backyard and a bit of side yard. The previous owner had put in a large cement patio which would be a fortune to rip out, so we've had to work with it. 

I'm in love with the idea of "garden rooms", where there are different areas and spaces for entertaining or chasing the shade on a lazy day. Since I've been dreaming of a beautiful backyard space for years, I set up a Pinterest board long ago that has since come in very handy. A few of my favorites that I used to draw inspiration from are below.

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I love the idea of a Pergola, and this space designed by Chip & Joanna Gaines is beautifully laid out with separate conversation areas as well as dining.

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This is so simple & organic, and I love the natural elements. It isn't clear how much sun this space would get, but in the evening it would be a lovely place to entertain, especially with the string of lights and a few well placed lanterns.

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I would have never thought to tile a patio, but holy cow this is gorgeous! Emily Henderson is a design hero of mine and she knocked it out of the park on this one. Seriously, click through on the image above to see the entire reveal, as well as the before photos, it's truly breathtaking. Through her use of color, texture, and layers she has truly created a beautiful and welcoming space that begs to be used for cocktail parties and entertaining every. single. day. (I would!)

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I'm super into this natural and boho design, and love that they didn't need a lawn to create a beautiful outdoor area. Gorgeousness aside, and as simple as it looks, those leather chairs and cloth poufs would need to be brought inside every night, especially here on the coast where the fog rolls in almost nightly.

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This is probably one of my favorite backyard redesigns. I like that they did the majority of the work themselves (we're huge DIYers) and worked with what they had in terms of size, climate and grass area. I love the pergola (which isn't in the cards for us) and the cute separate conversation areas. I probably got the most inspiration from this, adapting our space to fit our needs and budget. 

Today we will have a simple barbecue with a few people and I'm looking forward to using our new space fully. I'll try to snap some photos when everything is set and share a little before and after so you can see the progression. Enjoy your holiday and stay safe!

Crushing on the Black Farmhouse

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I think I first encountered a black-sided home last year while we road tripped through New Zealand. We were there in March, which is their autumn, so the leaves were beginning to change and some of the grasses in the fields had gone brown. In that early dormant state, you’d think the landscape would be barren and cold. But no, it was organic and beautiful. And every once in a while, we’d be driving (and we’d be the only car on the road for miles) and we’d drive through a tiny little town. In fact, the only way you’d know it was town would be the lone post office or feed store that would be on the highway. Other than that, nothing! It was surreal and quaint and felt like such a throwback. We loved it.

Driving through those small towns on the South Island, we passed many farmhouses – some old, some new, some restored. But never had I seen so many painted black with steel roofs. They looked so utilitarian, yet so modern and contemporary.

We are now in our mid-50’s, and retirement is so close we can taste it. What’s been happening is that every little trip we go on, we begin to imagine what it would be like to retire to that place. Certainly, New Zealand gave us that fantasy, but it’s so far away, it really is unrealistic. This past weekend we were in Paso Robles, and I was thrilled when Scott mentioned that he would consider that region for our next chapter (add it to Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Palm Springs, San Diego & Amsterdam).

Of course, my mind started immediately wandering, and I started fantasizing about building a dream farmhouse, on a small plot of 10 acres with an established vineyard (ha!). I think a black farmhouse would be the perfect structure to stand out on the rolling hills and majestic fields of Central California. A girl can dream

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