Showing posts with label Balcony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Balcony. Show all posts

Wine Tasting Party On Our New Terrace

Mar 3, 2018

I've been calling our latest project of turning a retaining wall into a balcony, but it doesn't really seem tall enough to be considered a balcony. Terrace is a more accurate description. Doesn't terrace sound better anyway? It immediately puts me in vacation mode. In my last post I showed you the before pics, the plan and the work just starting to begin. It is semi-complete at this point. It looks great from a distance, but there are a ton of touch-ups that need to be done to the stone and railings. I'm waiting for those to be finished hopefully by next week before I add planters to the tops of the pillars for reveal pics. I was so excited that we could move a wine party we had been planning for months outdoors. The weather was amazing and the contractor was hurrying to clean up the space so we could set up the tables by the pool.

That's our wine host in the photo above, Chiara, from Tenuto Torciano winery in Tuscany. My husband and I visited the winery last summer and were told they travel to the U.S. for private in-home wine tastings every spring. The best is they are completely free! Of course they would like our guests to buy wine. I knew that wouldn't be an issue with my crowd of friends!

Ciara set up the wine and oils on the new stone pillars. I thought that was a brilliant idea! Here is my husband and I before the party. Sorry, it was hard to get a good photo with the sun setting behind us. We were also careful not to touch the railings because there was black paint in some spots that hadn't dried. The contractor was leaving as Ciara pulled up to our house. The timing was crazy! You might notice the stone is a bit different from the pool wall. I'm actually okay with it since I haven't ever been a fan of the brown stone in the pool wall. I was worried that it wouldn't look right since it didn't match, but there is enough brown in the stone to blend with it.

This pic shows the brown in the stone a bit better since some of the others haven't been cleaned of the dust yet. Again, sorry for the poor quality pics! I did a screenshot from my IG stories since I hadn't thought to take blog pics.

One day I'd like to continue the stone on the facing of the retaining wall and stairs. You might also notice the solar lights on the wall. We installed those an hour before the party started. I bought them yesterday and let them sit in the sun so they would charge up. It was great having that bit of extra lighting by the tables.

I rented cocktail tables instead of regular tables because when we were planning the party for indoors there wouldn't have been enough room for chairs. The flowers are from Trader Joe's and I put those together the day before so the prep would be minimal. I already had the candleholders, and I found the glass vases at Target for $2.99. I should probably let people think I had a florist, but you know I have to share a deal!

Also, I had looked up pricing at local Italian restaurants for to go food. I was thinking that I would make some of the easier dishes and pick up the more complicated ones. After talking to the catering manager at a local restaurant I realized I couldn't cook for cheaper than what she was offering me. She even included a server at a minimal cost. I was so surprised by the cost of catering and party supply rentals. I would have done this years ago, but I just assumed it would be too expensive. You really just never know until you ask! The best part is since we had a waitress we could have her serve small plates to pair with the wines instead of one big dinner.

All of that planning paid off! Once Ciara started her presentation from the balcony with the string lights behind her while we were at the cocktail tables below by the pool, I just smiled so big. It was honestly magical! It felt like we were in the middle of Italy with the cypress trees behind the pool. I heard similar comments from my guests. I'm so glad I was able to take a little bit of the magic of Tuscany home to them. I'm guessing they loved it by the massive amounts of wine they ordered!

This was so much fun! It's nights like these that break up the mundane of daily life with a little something special. I'm getting better at planning events, whether it's a party or a new activity with a friend (tennis for the first time as an adult this week, wish me luck). I have asked myself many times why I do these things up until the day of the event, but I never regret it in the end!

My New Backyard Project: Balcony Railings

Feb 27, 2018

You've probably heard me mention the need for a balcony railing on the retaining wall in the backyard several times. We had no idea when we built our house that the backyard was on a large slope until the lot was cleared. My husband was upset because a pool was something we wanted to put in right away, and he didn't think it was possible. I assured him that we could build a retaining wall and have steps down to the pool that would look amazing. I was right, but I didn't realize how much more expensive retaining walls and balcony railings would cost. We were way over our budget because of it when we built our pool so we nixed the railing. I was so nervous someone would fall off the retaining wall that I added these tall potted junipers for a visual barrier. They did the job for a good two years, but my youngest son did fall off the wall right before Christmas. He slipped on ice when we had snow and freezing rain as he was running from the back door to the side yard. Thankfully, the chaise lounge broke his fall and he just ended up with a bruised bum. He has since decided he doesn't like snow!

Do you see how dangerous this could be? I haven't measured, but I believe there's about eight feet between the kitchen island and the drop-off. That distance is probably why we haven't any other accidents. My first priority this spring was to install a railing after a contractor no-showed last summer. I also really wanted to replace the chandeliers in the living room, dining room and foyer too. In order to do both I considered adding inexpensive fencing panels I found at Home Depot. My husband was convinced he could do it. I decided to just get one more quote to see the price difference. It turns out after talking to the contractor that those fencing panels were open on the ends and would end up rusting within a year or two. That means no chandeliers! Not only did we get a quote for the railing, I also got a quote for stone pillars. I noticed this look in several homes and on trips to Mexico and Capri. Even though it was more expensive for the pillars I decided to go ahead with it because it isn't one of those things I can go back and add later.

Sidenote-I also want these umbrellas and clay pots!

Here is the closest example of what ours will look like when completed. Eventually, I'd love to add the stone on the face of the retaining wall and stairs like in this photo. 


The stone we planned on using is the same as the pool wall. It's a split face travertine with a combination of cream and brown split face travertine. 

The only problem is the company that supplied it no longer sells it, and the contractor can't find it anywhere else. The contractor did find this exact cream colored stone, but there just won't be any brown in it. I have to admit that I'm not that upset because I've never really been a fan of the brown stone. It doesn't really bother me, but it kind of looks like patchwork to me. My only concern is that we would have two different types of stone back here. I was in a bit of a quandary last night when they told me about the stone being discontinued. 

I decided to go ahead with the cream stone instead of trying to find the cream/brown one after thinking about it. The deciding factor was knowing I eventually want to add stone to the front of the retaining wall. If I'm not thrilled with the way it looks on the pool wall then I definitely wouldn't be happy with it on a larger surface. Maybe when I get the retaining wall done next I can ask them to replace the brown stones on the pool? I have no idea if that's an option, but you never know until you ask. FYI, this is an old pic. You wouldn't believe how tall and wide the trees have gotten!

Here is the progress with the cinderblock framing for the pillars. I forgot to take a picture, but I was able to screenshot a previous Instagram story. There will be black iron panels between the stone pillars. They are plain for cost reasons. Honestly, the reason why we went with the stone pillars is that an iron railing with any detail to it is almost the same price as the plain iron with the stone pillars. 

As I'm typing I can hear the guys outside cutting the iron panels. The stone work is just beginning, too. I'll update on my Instagram stories later today so you can see the progress!

My Two Favorite and Inexpensive House Plants

Apr 15, 2014

How was your weekend? We had great weather here and then it turned windy, cold and rainy yesterday. Before the temperature dropped 35 degrees we took full advantage of the weather and bought enough plants to turn our backyard into a rainforest. At least that's what my 8 year old called it. I love my kids perspective on our projects. I'll have pictures later in the week of the backyard (or rainforest) once the sun comes out again. I also picked up two of my favorite house plants while out shopping. I love them because they go in any room.  Most of the stores have their orchids out, but only the grocery store has them for $10. That store is HEB for fellow Texans! I picked one up to replace the one I killed in the living room.
I've been moving it around the house to see where else it could go-the mantel, the coffee table, the end table, the bedroom, the bathroom vanity and tub (it's called a garden tub after all :), and the entry table. It looks good everywhere!  I also bought a couple of regency palms since Wal-Mart had them on sale for $10. You probably noticed them on my upstairs balcony in a recent post.  DSC_3432
I have two of these on the balcony. One is behind the camera in the corner. They are great for privacy when I want to wear my pjs out here, which I did yesterday. Not to mention there's something about palms that put me in an instant vacation mood. As with the orchid, I've been moving them around the house and they look good everywhere. One ended up in the entryway.  DSC_3864

And the other is in the living room.


I also like the way they look on the front porch, the office, the bedroom and the dining room. It's a great and inexpensive way to fill an empty corner. Doesn't every room have one of those? Now, I'm off to find a couple of new planters!

Outdoor Spaces

Apr 1, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year! For enjoying outdoor spaces, that is. Alfresco meals, doors and windows thrown open to let the breeze in, heated pool for the kids, and margaritas on the patio at local restaurants were the highlights of my weekend. We are beginning the best season for weather in Houston and I'm planning on taking full advantage of it before summer hits. One of the things I love most about my house is the number of outdoor spaces I have to enjoy this great weather.

The front porch


The pool

And the balcony off the master bedroom


That's a lot of outdoor spaces for a fairly small home. How small? I'm not sure if I've ever revealed this before, but my home is just under 2300 square feet. When you have three boys, an escape room is important. Outdoor areas are perfect since the yelling from inside is muted.

Besides the plants I killed, the front porch and balcony are in pretty good shape. I never really got to finish the pool area last year since most of the d├ęcor was sold out by the time our pool was finished. Here are a few things I have my eye on to finish it off.

9' Auto Tilt Umbrella

I really wanted this black and white striped umbrella last year from Ballard Designs, but considering I needed two of them I could not justify the cost and went with plain red ones. I'll be watching these at the end of summer for a good sale and a coupon. I have to at least get two seasons out of my red ones. Isn't the black and white so chic?

Pool loungers are at the top of my list!

I've also decided to put in palm trees behind our waterfall. I feel like the rocks need a bit of softening. Have you ever priced palms? They can be insanely expensive and it's so hard to decide which ones to buy since there are so many varieties. I'm leaning towards the Mediterranean Palm because they're pretty. We'll see what my yard guy says tomorrow about these. I hope he doesn't burst my bubble by telling me they shed or won't grow well in this climate. He'll be planting the trees for me because I don't trust my planting skills. Painting, yes. Planting, no.

This is probably my first project that doesn't require woodwork, paint or any elbow grease at all on my part. I could get used to this!