Outdoor Inspiration

We’ve been having some pretty incredible weather in San Francisco lately, and as a result, we’ve been spending a lot of time having dinner or drinks out on the back deck.  I even just love taking my book out there on weekends to read and get some sunshine.
The downside?? It’s not looking so hot these days… 
The upside?? I have a plan, and it looks something like this…

Yep, the back deck is about to get a pretty fabulous makeover, and I’m looking to keep costs down here.  This transformation is going to take a lot of paint, a few plants, and a few well placed accessories.

Before I break down the plan for you, let’s take a look at the deck’s current state, shall we?

We’ve got a whole lot of peeling paint on the floorboards and wooden posts, some random cleaning supplies in the corner that are no longer fit to clean anything, a fireplace grate, some wooden furniture in need of new paint, and a very VERY dead rosemary bush.

God, the peeling paint has gotten really bad.

This side of the house is a western exposure so it gets the harsh afternoon sun, and the paint certainly shows it.

The wooden furniture has good lines, so while it looks sad, I think both the chairs and table can be saved.

Ok, don’t judge me.

The broom, mop and miscellaneous metal bar are sitting out here out of sheer laziness. They need to go down to the trash. Simple.  In fact, I may move them down there right now.

So embarrassing.

Anyway, let’s look back the other direction…

More peeling paint looking back at the doorway.  Oye.
And a closeup of the arm of the chair… luckily, it will be fairly easy to sand it down since the paint is hanging on by a thread.

Dead rosemary.  Like beyond dead.  It’s time for a proper burial.

Scary, right??

Well, I’m hoping it’s not so scary for long.

As I’d mentioned, the plan is to spruce things up with three things: paint, plants, and a few well placed accessories.  Here’s the details:

The deck is in shambles – I mean you saw the pictures so you know what we’re working with.  It can only go up from here, and the simple solution is to slap a fresh coat (or two) of paint on the deck and railings.  This is something I’m hopeful that our landlord will take care of, but if not, it’s something I can tackle with a massive roller and some outdoor paint. Do I want to do it myself?  Absolutely not – it’s a big job.  Mainly because the existing paint is peeling really badly already, and it needs to be sanded down first before any new paint can be applied… our deck is small, yes, not only do the railings, and floorboards need paint, but the walls of the building need help too.

Fingers crossed our building takes care of that.

Once we have a new coat of paint on the deck, I think it will be totally transformed already.  With that done, I’ll move on to freshening up the outdoor furniture we already have.

I actually bought this furniture (the two chairs and the table) off of Craigslist a few years back.  The set was a total steal from a woman who staged homes, and was cleaning out her inventory.  All three pieces were $50 total, and were painted a pistachio color.  It was pretty.. until became it faded and chipped beyond recognition.  Despite the paint, the wood is in good shape, so they can definitely be saved.

Since the deck will be white I think we need to bring in some color, and the chairs are the perfect opportunity for that.  I’m thinking blue would be really pretty, and since you can see them from inside, it will coordinate with all the other shades of blue we have going in the hallway and dining room.

Picking a shade of blue is the hard part.  I’m thinking I’d like the cushions to be a black and white stripe, so a brighter blue to contrast with the black would be nice.  Perhaps something between a  navy and royal blue. After a bit of research on the topic of blue paint, I’ve discovered it’s kind of hard to get it right.  There are SO MANY DIFFERENT VARIATIONS!

A few that I liked…

Benjamin Moore – Old Navy 2063-10
Benjamin Moore – Van Deusen Blue HC-156
Benjamin Moore – Admiral Blue 2065-10
Benjamin Moore – Bold Blue 2064-10
Benjamin Moore – Blue 2066-10
Benjamin Moore – Starry Night Blue 2067-20

Benjamin Moore – Symphony Blue 2060-10
As you can see the blue’s I’m drawn to range from an ultra marine type blue with a green undertone, to a true navy, to almost a royal blue.  Since I found some seat cushions at the Home Depot that are a classic black and white stripe, I’m really leaning towards something brighter – black and white against a classic dark navy wouldn’t feel right to me.

I’m loving the Admiral Blue (samples I saw looked lighter) along with Starry Night Blue and Blue.

Symphony Blue is also calling to me a bit as well.  I’ll pick up some samples and see what works best.


Once we slap some paint on the furniture and deck, I want to bring in some greenery.  I’ve already started scouting a few hearty plants that will be a) hard for me to kill and b) bright and green year round.

I’ve been told to try out citrus trees (lemon, or orange), lavender, boxwood’s, and jasmine.  All year round green, all hearty plants, and all good in exposed areas (aka, they won’t keel over with a bit of wind).

With my brown thumb, I want something relatively low maintenance, but I’m also thinking that in addition to the above low-maintenance plants, I’d like to bring in some flowers for color – even if they do end up dying, I think some potted flowers would just be so pretty.

Beyond paint and plants, I think a few candles, some bistro lights strung up (we actually already have those) and some sort of all-weather, outdoor friendly art installation will finish things off nicely.  There is a big wall divider between our deck and our neighbors, and it’s sort of an eyesore.  It would be cool to paint the grid pattern the same blue as the chairs, but to make changes like that to the exterior of our building isn’t something I feel comfortable with as a renter.  Some sort of solar powered copper clock would be kind of awesome, but I haven’t seen anything much like that.

I also saw those pink flamingos on Home Depot’s site and thought they were fun.  They might be joining me on the deck in the near future…

There is a lot of work ahead, but once I’m finished, I think we’ll have a really lovely urban oasis out there – perfect for reading my book on weekends, drinking wine after work, bbqing, and having friends over.

Wish me luck!!

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