Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where Y'At Vamp? The Yard Reveal!

If you have been reading Visual Vamp for a couple of years or so, you know I live in New Orleans, and that our home survived Katrina, and that the yard took a beating. The yard is big by city standards, and it had been neglected by the previous owner, and I had made a start at fixing it up. You can see many previous photos if you go to the right hand margin and scroll way down to "labels". Click on the label "Yards", and on the label "Outside-Gardens", and you will see my yard, front porch, etc., and several inspiration photos and ideas I have collected over the years.

Today, the reveal!

Visual Vamp patio now

Of course the elements I always use are: Working with what one has, color, art, flowers, comfort, and a sense of fun, and so it goes with this project.

Visual Vamp patio then, after Katrina

It took over five years to get to this reveal. The fence between our neighbor's home had blown down in the hurricane, and the process to rebuild took a long time. About 7 months ago, the beautiful fence was completed, and that was what I was waiting for to realize a project I had been planning and dreaming about.

A similar view to the post Katrina photo as it looks now

I had started to add rock to the beat down drive way, one bag at a time from Home Depot. I also tried to get a rock path going along the side of the house, upping it to six bags at a time. My friend Sabina and Alberto would buy me those six bags as a gift once in awhile! Needless to say it was like filling a swimming pool with an eye dropper.

A few months ago I saw a young man, Derek Brown (504 813 9428), doing some hard scape for a neighbor, and we struck up a conversation, and he came over and listened to my "I Love Lucy" schemes for dealing with crappy cracked concrete, a wood handicap ramp, a huge weed patch, some chain link gates, and my insatiable desire for a ton of rocks. As luck wold have it, Derek had a rock pile with my name on it, a surplus left from another job, and a price I could afford. He arrived with rock and a Bobcat, and the demo of the ramp and gates happened, and the rock in the driveway was put down. I was in heaven!

The back portion of my yard, had three concrete patois. It was divided into two separate spaces divided by a chain link fence and gate, creating two yards for the once double shotgun house this had been. I had the fence and gate removed to open up the space.

Painted patio floor

I have finally become a true New Orleanian! I paint cement!!!! I have always hated when people painted concrete. But here in New Orleans everyone paints their porches and patios. It took eleven years for me to get with the program!

One of the patios is raised, so I painted it the same deep hunter green that the neighbors (Julie and Larry) painted the fence. I like using green outside, the color of nature.

Four piece patio set by Martha Stewart at Home Depot

I made this patio the main sitting area. I opted for a coffee table and four comfy chairs, rather than a dining table. The coffee table has a top that comes off and becomes a fire pit. I bought this set at Home Depot on sale long before the renovation started. I know you know what I mean when I tell you I was stockpiling it for the future. It's by Martha Stewart. It came with the cushions, and it is very nice quality.

River rock covers a cracked concrete patio

Other elements on the patio are art, lighting, plants, a bar. I covered the lower cracked concrete patio with river rock. I love the pea gravel used in European gardens, but I opted for the larger river rock.

Rope lighting and lanterns are nice at night

Yes Patricia, there is a modest fountain now!

Every garden needs a tranquil Buddha, or a Virgin Mary statue, so I thought I would add oversize art to the patio, and paint a huge Buddha. I call it "Pink Buddha". I thought to use pink as an accent color in honor of the 2011 color of the year. I started with some little pink plastic folding tables ($10. each), pink flowers and foliage, and pink fabric in the pillows.

I painted this pink Buddha!

The third patio is in front of the back door we use, the garage, and a shed, so I did not put rock here. I painted it another shade of green, and also painted the two back doors a third green. The rock is held in place by a gray bricks that were laid out in a serpentine pattern. There's also another Buddha here, a glow-in-the-dark one that my friend Jack gave me for my 60th birthday. We think it came from a Chinese restaurant. Jack found it in a store on Magazine Street that sells vintage and antique things, and I just love it and have used it in several rooms in the house, but I think he looks swell on the new patio.

Serpentine placement of gray brick contain the rock bed
I spy the Buddha Jack gave me!

Patio in front of garage and shed is painted Martini Olive green

The bar and the lighted "@" sign
As in Where it's at!

The bright green back door

Trina Turk pillow from Etsy

Planters with bamboo sticks in front of AC unit

I had some funky planters that I put bamboo sticks into to screen the air conditioner. I'm not fooling anyone that the huge AC unit is there, but it is a little cuter! I had a collection of bird houses that I was ready to get rid of, but I used them as a "screen" on another side of the AC unit.

Funky bird houses

All of this has been happening at a crazy pace, because our home is on a house tour on Saturday!

We even did a quick fix on the attic window that Katrina blew out. We painted the plywood, put back the old window trim we saved, and hung a fragment of an old iron gate I had picked up years ago because I thought it was cute, and had it stashed in my shed for use one day!

The attic window quick fix

The front porch got spiffed up too. The porch floor (it's concrete) got the dreaded paint job, in this case an opaque concrete stain, and all the fence and railings were painted too.

Porch and steps and gates were painted
The spots are the Spring falling of pollen

I replaced all the outdoor rugs with some new ones from perch. (504 899-2122), and edited the furniture.

A fun vintage yellow Eames chair was added

New indoor/outdoor rugs from perch. - 504 899 2122

Entree des artistes!

The river rock driveway
Gray bricks contain the rock

The driveway ends at the lawn

After all the rock was down, I had to decide what to do with a huge ghetto weed patch. I considered fake grass, until all you bloggers screamed NO, beware of dog pee! I could have extended the rock to the garage, which would make sense if cars went into the garage. But cars have never been in this garage. It was used as a card party room by the original owners, and a workshop by subsequent owners. Alberto uses it as workshop.

And there was another family member to consider! It's Cholo! Cholo needed grass to play on! And it is so nice to have a patch of grass in a city setting.

Cholo says he needs some grass to play on

St. Augustine sod was laid down just before Mardi Gras, and it was a little brown and patchy. But the feed store said it would fill in, to water it, and I have done that and babied it, and Cholo's lawn is getting more lush with every day. I was told it would look pretty good by April, and by the miracle of nature, it is!

Pink flowers down the 100 year brick sidewalk

Another candidate for river rock was an area on the other side of the house, what I call the breezeway. The 100 year old brick was a mess, and it would have been easy to cover it up. But in the end I opted to restore it the best it could be, wanting to see and walk on those old bricks for another 100 years.

I added the visual design element of repetition by hanging multiple baskets of pink petunias. Oh that it could be the giant Kartell Misses Flower Power vases! But I think this looks charming, and a surprise awaits at the end of the path. Remember I said I took another chain link gate down at the beginning of this walkway. I wanted the passer by to peer down the old brick walkway, and see a fountain at the far end, my Valentine to the secret courtyards in The French Quarter.

My dreams for the house involve ripping off the plastic siding and restoring the old cypress boards, and rebuilding the old window and door frames, and putting shutters back on the house.
All I need is fifty thousand dollars ha ha. Alberto and I have done all the DIY projects that we are capable of, so maybe the siding will never get done. So I keep the house clean and in as good of repair as possible.

100 year old Sweet Olive tree near an entrance of the house
Sweet Olive is traditionally placed at an entrance,
it's beautiful fragrance to welcome all who enter

So this is what has taken me away from blogging! Alberto and I are so happy with the yard. As the trees and plants grow back after the Winter frost, it will look even prettier. We look forward to hanging out, and invite you all to come and sit a spell, and toss the ball to Cholo!

Driveway gates and iron fence got a paint job

Special thanks to neighbors Julie and and Larry on one side, and Deb and Michael on the other side, and Jack for helping me paint, and Derek and his helper Scott for never laughing at my ideas, and always making them a reality, and mostly to Alberto who is always cheerful when I ask him to build, fix, or install, and for telling me he loves the home I have made for us, and that he appreciates my dynamic decor style.


pve design said...

I am just so sad that my sister was just visiting in New Orleans and I tried to tell her to hook up with you and go see her garden! WEll it looks like the "it" place to be all you need are some prayer flags, and a dance floor~ Pour me a drink!

janette@ The2Seasons said...

I think you have been pretty busy. How many square feet does your house have? I have a feeling its length really adds to its size. I always look forward to your blog entries.

Renae Moore said...

I am in love with what you have you, so clever and fun! Love all the varieties of green paint and Cholo's grass! I love the charm of older homes - the various characters they take on not like in subdivision land like where I live.
Outstanding, just like you!

littlebadwolf said...

looks wonderful and special, miz v.

wish i could join the tour on saturday.

aarf to cholo--he looks pleased, too.

Sabina said...

I love it! The river rock almost looks like shell and the colors are beautiful. Fantastic job.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Awww I LOVE your dynamic style! This whole post was a breezy breath of fresh n'awlins air. It is all so you too. Full of sass and style...and humour!

Kick back and enjoy a tall one...and have a BALL on Saturday!!

Irene said...

WOW, you've done a wonderful job. Love you 100 year old walkway, so glad you kept it. Your sitting area is charming, and I'm getting use to the painted concrete. And aren't you lucky meeting that young man with a bobcat. I completely understand your buying methods of stone. Me and home depot have a similar relationship, except it's wood chips. Love it, Love it, love it. I'm sure your tour will be great.

Margaret said...

What a transformation. It is just so you.

The Buddhas and the porch rugs -- love, love, love.

I love painted concrete and painted wood too.

Good luck on Tour! xx

h. m. settoon said...

it looks fantastic!!

beki said...

fantastic! I can't wait to see it in person!!

Nita Stacy said...

I knew it would be good because you were doing it and of course it has unexpected touches which I expected too because you were doing it.

I love all the different shades of green. I don't know that I would have thought to mix so many different kinds of greens and it works so well!

I like that mod chair added to the front porch and those repetitive rugs from Perch are fabulous in the space. I have an area where I want to do gravel...I didn't think about just dragging home a bag every time I'm at Lowe's. I'm same as you...I can only do DIY's that I can manage alone. Cholo's grass looks great. I know people complain about dog pee on grass....but in my experience its never hurt my actually grows better where they pee.

Love the row of hanging flowers...and of course the "Where its at" bar! Well done.....looks like you are all set for the tour!

Meg said...

I just planted sweet olives in my front yard and LOVE them! I'm freaking out seeing how big yours is though, I have NO room for mine to get that big!!! They smell wonderful!

Appletree said...

for sure where it's at! love what you have done Vamp!

Boo Hazard said...

Thanks for a great and inspiring post! I just bought a house in the Bywater and can only dream of the day to do landscaping!!

I LOVE the door color and your clever idea to hide the concrete - we have the same problem.

And thanks for the reminder that the PRC House Tour is this weekend! :)


Kwana said...

I'm in love. This is so the place to be Valorie!

my favorite and my best- MFAMB to you said...

standing ovation!

well done.
now please email me and tell me how much you spent. this seems completely doable on a budget.

littleshop said...

I love the colors you chose. So painting the cement- did you go to the trouble of cleaning it with acid or did you just power wash & paint? I want to do this but am scared of the acid deal. Want to skip that part!

Gerry said...

What an inspiring post! Makes me want to get in gear and work on my back deck. I had been worried about you since it had been a week since your last post! I kept waiting for a Liz Taylor tribute from you and thought maybe something was wrong but I can see you've been way too busy! Hope the tour is a great success and please give us pictures when it's over. I'm sure it will be a great time for you, you deserve it!

Carollynn @ said...

OMG! You hinted at what you were doing, but this is out and out amazing! I love all the rooms you created.

vicki archer said...

AmAzing job the pink Buddha.....xv

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Only YOU could take flaming pink and take it outdoors and introduce it to 'fabulous'. Everything you touch reeks panache. You have that,"Je ne sais pas quoi." Buddha painting = brilliant.

Time for your second book!
xo xo love you

diana said...

Bravo! Wonderful work on this... and what I love the best looks so do-able... you just need a ton of energy, a ton of creativity... but not a ton of money.
Well done!!

Anonymous said...

More pix please of Cholo and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang!

Anonymous said...

Just love that 100yr old brick walkway and so glad you restored it. The house wouldn't look the same without it and you are preserving and making history by using it.

Vickie H. said...

Valorie!!! I think you have done a masterful job. Your personal style just comes rocketing through and blows us all away! It is a fantastic look and I know we are all really thrilled for you and Alberto and Cholo and KKBB!!! Wish I could be in town for the tour!

elissa @ faucethead said...

it turned out beautifully! definitely worth the wait. i can't decide if i'm more jealous of the bar area or the bright green door!

24 Corners said...

Loved seeing all the historic detailing on and around your house....what a special place you have there to love on and take care of....which you've done in spades, inside AND well done! Cholo seems very happy with it too, and extremely ready to enjoy!
xo J~

Unknown said...

I love everything, the colors your painting, the floor, the modest fountain (HA) and your spirit showing everywhere!
So cozy comfy! And your style is irrepressible!

Toyin O. said...

Everything looks amazing, I love your patio, you did an amazing job.

Anonymous said...

hi mama... it looks fabulous! all of your sweat, blood, tears and paint under the fingernails paid off! i can't wait to sit on the new patio, listen to argentine music and drink a glass of vino w you and alberto.

Anonymous said...

hey soul sister this is crazy great! So enchanting and relaxful! Break out the wine and cheese please. XO Linda

Unknown said...

What a makeover!!! Bright, happy and just screams, come, sit and hang out for a while. Especially love the pink Buddha you painted!

Wishing you lots of sunny (yet not hot) days to sit out back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Well done, Valorie!
xo Elizabeth

suzq said...

I haven't been to your site in months. It's wonderful to see Alberto looking so well. Your home and garden are lovely, indeed!

Enjoy the tour!

The Gimlet Eye said...

Everyone has RAVED about your house on the tour. I told them I was not surprised! I wanted to make it but we have family in town. Congrats!

cotedetexas said...

wow. i dont even know where to begin. wow. love the river rock. thats my favorite after the brick breezeway- that's fabulous. it's all wonderful!!!!!! unreal. who knew all that space was back there???? you much be exhausted. can't wait to come one day and sit back there.