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!