Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Our Outdoor Living Area

Who needs to go to Gloria Jeans or Starbucks when you can enjoy your coffee here each day! I wanted to share with you today a few glimpses of our new outdoor living area. I used to call it a patio but since its makeover we really are living out here. We eat lunch here, I read to the children here, have afternoon tea and love to step outside, stand at the fence and watch the birds or gaze at the tibouchina in all its purple splendour.

My husband has worked incredibly hard over summer to lay all these pavers. The paved area extends round the front of the house, there are steps that go down to the pool and a yet to be completed outdoor kitchen/ barbecue area. The old, dilapidated potting shed has gone!  We have enough pavers left over to pave round the back of the house where our utility area is located but that's a job for another summer! We lived for 10 years with an uneven, subsiding brick patio so another year is not long to wait!

As you can see it is quite a large area. We opted for large gray textured pavers that resemble slate because we wanted a natural colour that would complement the green of the surrounding forest. They do get quite hot underfoot on scorching summer days so footwear needs to be handy to the door - I know I should have included a picture of the flip flop/gumboot mountain at the door but let me enjoy my few moments of patio perfection with the leaves all swept, the water guns confiscated, the hose wound up, the tools in the shed and all the shoes in the basket. Note that I did say moments of patio perfection!

When we first came to eight acres of eden it was far from paradise. Exotic shrubbery in the garden bed edged the poorly laid, terracotta brick patio making the house feel very closed in and the height of the vegetation blocked off all views and vistas to the surrounding farmland and valley. There was one native feature we had to retain - the magnificent grass tree. It greets you as you arrive and go up the steps. No stately urns or stone lions to mark the entrance. How about a real live kelpie instead?

Keira managed to sit still for about thirty seconds and posed for the camera. Not sure where the cat was on this occasion but since we laid those pavers she is found sunbathing, stretched out to the max most days!

There is now somewhere flat and expansive for the toddler to ride his racing car!

I searched my photo albums for a before shot and came across this. A reminder of the bad old days when chickens escaped and roamed the patio leaving their deposits for me to clean up! Needless to say, chickens are now banned from the new outdoor living area. Roger the rooster (full name Roger Featherer after a certain Swiss tennis player) still manages to fly over but cannot reach the patio area and stands forlorn on the top step with his beak pressed against the glass door!

This is our old patio furniture. We used to have two of these tables and they served us well for many years but they are now rusting out and one recently went to the scrap metal yard as it was beyond a makeover. The other table and chairs are not far behind. We hope to replace this set with a new long table and chairs when we can afford it. For now we squeeze around the one table. I have resisted the temptation to 'furnish' (or clutter as my husband would call it) the outdoor living area. A grouping of pots in one corner and outdoor table and chairs are the only accessories for now but my husband has agreed that a patio swing to match the outdoor setting we eventually purchase might be in order! 

The former site of the old potting shed has been designated for a barbecue/outdoor kitchen area. This may end up being called the 'man pit'. The men can cook steaks downstairs and the girls sip iced tea on the terrace. That sounds so civilised doesn't it? Actually, this was a practical consideration. We wanted the barbecue area separate to avoid the issue of grease on the pavers and to make the patio area a safer area for little children. I have been sighing over pictures of beautiful outdoor stone fireplaces on pinterest but we will most likely opt for a stainless steel outdoor kitchen with built in barbecue or my poor husband will be cooking steaks whilst leaning over his zimmer frame! For now we continue to use our old barbecue - like the furniture it has served us well and we'll replace it when we can afford it!

Some people have asked us why we chose to have such a big outdoor living area and our answer is that we use this area all year round. We love to offer hospitality and sometimes entertain large crowds of people. We wanted to have somewhere for people to mix and enjoy fellowship so as we renovated our home we made it people and family friendly (no cream carpets!) and opened up the inside to the outside by installing French doors.

And as you can tell from the last two photographs, we are a DIY family. Everyone pitched in to help take up all the old brick pavers, even the toddler who was determined to lift them all by himself! The old spa pool you can see in the background has been turned into a pond.
One day in the not too distant future they will host their friends and family at birthday parties, engagements and maybe even choose to have their weddings or reception dinners here. I guess they will remember their contribution as children in making this house into a home and tell their own children about how they helped lay pavers and grout tiles! It's not just about renovating, it's about making memories! And speaking of memories. The first major celebration to be held at the new outdoor living area will be my daughter's 18TH birthday party at the end of the year. She's already planning her party and has worked out that now we have more room we can invite more people! Well I suppose that was the intention but I'm ready to help her prepare and know that she will want to be involved in every aspect and will not leave it all to me to organize.

Hope you enjoyed these glimpses of our outdoor living area. Do you like to 'live outdoors' during summer and on pleasant days during the other seasons? How do you make good use of your patios, verandas, decks and outdoor living areas together as a family? Have you ever taken on a major renovation project with your family?  Do share!


Your Gardening Friend said...

Congrats on the new outdoor "living" area. :) It's beautiful!

I love the view of the blooming tree.

Ruby said...

That is an absolutely gorgeous area! No wonder you are living out there!

Finding Joy said...

That's beauitful, I would prefer that to Starbucks any day!! What is the purple flowers?

Our summer has been so poor, we haven't sat outside much and couldn't enjoy our special spot.

A Primitive Homestead said...

Your plans to add an outdoor cooking area will create a wonderful place to create so many family memories. I love to be outdoors and cook & all eat together. My first special outing was hosting my grand daughters third birthday party. She will soon be five & each year she asks is we will have her party in grandmas gazebo with balloons again. I have hopes of my daughters wedding in the garden. No hurry any time soon. Your daughters birthday will be a treasured memory for her. Those are beautiful purple blooms. My chickens will be ban from the outdoor area soon. Blessings!

africanaussie said...

Tibouchina trees are the best -they never seem to stop flowering! that area looks lovely. we have an area just outside the side door where we have a gazebo and always seem to be hanging out there. At the the moment though I need to clean the pavers as they have got mouldy and slimy with all this rain.

Unknown said...

Your hard work has paid off-it looks fabulous!
The grass tree is magnificent!

Joolz said...

The area looks really inviting and tranquil. I love the slate paving set amongst the bushland. I am sure you will use this area heaps.

We haven't had many good days for sitting outside under our pergola. We get southerly winds hitting it so even on a nice summers day, it's still quite breezy. We actually did sit out last Monday and it was just perfect, though. Once a year perfection!

Cheers - Joolz

Camille said...

I *love* the idea of an outdoor living area! And yours is SO BEAUTIFUL Ann! A job well done!! We have had COLD weather the last few days...even some snow (that didn't stick), so seeing your patio has done me good. Spring is on its way!!!

Blessings to you!

Shane Pollard said...

Oh Ann, you've created a wonderful outdoor space - entertaining will be a breeze for you now!
I love the slate look pavers - very practical and as you say they blend perfectly with the natural surroundings.

Your tibouchina is fantastic, I would love to sit with you out there Ann and enjoy a coffee, in such beautiful surroundings. I imagine you hear all sorts of birds in the trees too?

I can see it was a massive job and you must be thrilled to have the added space for family life and entertaining friends too!

Enjoy your weekend

Pam said...

I love your outdoor living area. I love that it is big, with plenty of room for all of your hopeful dreams. It is something I relate to for sure. We have a large covered patio through our front door... that we long to re do ourselves, but are not able to yet because of funds as well. We use it all summer long it is our little haven. We are also wanting to put a deck on the back. It sure feels good to get something like that done doesn't it? It is a beautiful patio Anne. Loved the before and afters. Our chickens are quite like yours.. always trying to be with us. We haven't got our fencing up for them yet either, and they have grown very happy roaming anywhere they would like. Loved the name of your Rooster. Spring is just arriving here, so your work makes me feel very inspired for the months ahead.

Nice to get caught up with you. I haven't blogged in a little while, but have missed you.

Many Blessings to you and your family,

Much Love,

Unknown said...

Incredibly beautiful, Ann! You'll enjoy that space for years to come, I'm sure! We lived in our house 6 years before we poured an aggregate cement patio - before it was all mud/dirt - and what a difference it made! Thanks for sharing such inspiring photos!

American Home said...

So very beautiful! I can't imagine all of the work it must have taken to build but it looks very worth it.


Renata said...

Hi Ann
This looks amazing! Maybe Dave could get some pointers from your hubby when we are ready to do our outdoor area! I love the pavers you chose ~ definitely perfect & exactly what I envision in ours :)
You are going to have many wonderful family times out on it ( I imagine you already are).
Hope you are keeping well ~ love to you

Beth said...

How Beautiful! I can't wait to start working on our is in much worse shape than your old one!

Unknown said...

Ann, thanks for linking up your patio post... it's still just as incredible as the first time I saw it! I think it will be very inspring for others to see.


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