by Brian Patrick Flynn
Being from the South, when someone invites me to outdoor summertime soirees, all I can think of is 98% humidity, the sound of bugs in the distance, sweat stains on the back of my shirt, and then I decline the invitation. But on the flip side, talk of outdoor summertime shindigs pretty much anywhere else in the U.S. render me first to RSVP, first to eat the seven-layer-dip, and first to be in bed before 7:30pm.
When two of my fellow Angelenos-by-way-of-the-South, Kelly and John, staked their West Coast claim in the perfect tiny house in Venice Beach, Ca., I was quick to offer some designer assistance in getting their backyard up and running for a summer packed with guests to entertain. With visitors showing up every few weeks, we decided to put a 12X14 area of their yard to use as an easy-to-put-up-easy-to-take-down summertime gazebo lounge. After a trip to the local nursery and an afternoon putting things together, here’s how we turned a spot in the yard into the home’s most used, most color-drenched, and most pattern-packed room…albeit one with no walls. And, unlike the South, not a mosquito in sight!
As you can see, Kelly and John have an amazing backyard — especially with that green grass and lush foliage. To ensure our lounge concept wouldn’t hurt the area, we decided to go with pieces which are just as quick to put up as they are to take down.
The center of the yard is almost unrecognizable due to the ENORMOUS ROOM SITTING RIGHT SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. And, seriously, this took us maybe an hour to put together — with the exception of the planting which added about three more hours. The King Canopy 10X10 Garden Party Gazebo Canopy starts out as what looks like a piece of luggage. A few snappy clicks and maybe 7 minutes later, the entire thing becomes a massive outdoor room. The Woodard Wrought Iron Patio Serving Cart makes it easy to load up food and serving pieces, then wheel it out in place just before guests arrive.
Adding privacy from nosy neighbors is easy and affordable. Thanks to rods which extend all the way across all four sides of the canopy, all you have to do is slide grommeted draperies onto them before locking all poles into place. The $29.99 Outdoor Decor Escape Striped Grommet Outdoor Curtain Panels bring blue into the color scheme, and they also flow beautifully in the breeze.
To take the gazebo from a cool tent with a dirt or grass floor to a full-fledged lounge, it’s smart to incorporate an indoor/outdoor area rug. Since the gazebo itself is all neutral and stuff, we went all the way with the most turquoise-y of turquoises, the Colonial Mills Janelle Lampp Simply Home Indoor/Outdoor Braided Area Rug. Thanks to those braids, the rug not only brings in the turquoise, but it brings in the texture as well.
By simply sticking a good lookin’, extra long tapestry or table cloth on the coffee table, the space below becomes ideal for keeping all the small things within arm’s reach and concealed until it’s time to whip ‘em out and chow down. Things like the Strawberry Street Love Sapphire Beer Tumbler Glasses, Danica Studio Foundation Napkins, Rachael Ray Round and Square Orange Dinnerware Set, of course.
Once the California sun goes down over Venice Beach, Kelly and John keep themselves and guests lit by the Royce Bethany Portable Indoor/Outdoor Chandelier which can simply be attached to the top structural bars of the canopy with an S-hook. To light it up, all you need is an extension cord and access to an outlet.
To add designated serving space along the back of the gazebo, I picked up a Mediterranean blue, mobilized industrial buffet from the Rose Bowl Flea Market to complement the orange dinner ware and table linens. The super fancy Global Views Ribbed Ice Bucket – Nickel keeps drink cool while also doing double duty as sculpture.
Although I don’t know all that much about planting, I do know about pretty planters. To keep the color scheme flowing in and out of the gazebo, we used Round Ceramic Strawberry Jar with 6 Pockets in blue and aqua tones for small, bushy greenery and went all vertical with bougainvillea planted in the Palzetto Glazed Ceramic Twist Planter. If you ask me what species I planted in each, here is the answer you will get: Pretty green and pink ones.
The Arbor Collection Wood Chat Set is made from Eucalyptus wood in a warm brown tone. In addition the the four chairs, a round table in the same finish is included. You know, that round table I covered up with a traditional Uzbekistan print tablecloth because I am pattern-obsessed? When it comes to upholstery, especially for outdoor spaces, it’s best to go for something super neutral, then add personality and flair with accents such as pillows and throw blankets.
After we wrapped up our little transformation, Kelly, John and son Cooper had all the food ready for guests, then hopped to it. And as usual, I was home asleep by 7:30pm while they were just getting started.
– Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV designer/producer; Decor Demon