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Hiding Outdoor Eyesores

Growing up in South Florida in the 1990s, I remember a big local news report all about an A-list celebrity painting his or her waterfront mansion mustard yellow with black stripes – rendering his/her wealthy neighbors uproarious. This was my first introduction to the concept of man-made eyesores and how they cause proud homeowners much distress.

Years later, a similar situation (albeit on a much smaller scale) was presented to me when my friend Alison, a lifestyle journalist, showed me a totally unused area just off her kitchen in Los Angeles. Since she had just helped me totally rework my own wardrobe, it was the least I could do in return. Or perhaps it was because I was newly wardrobe-proud and didn’t want to do my $300 shoes a disservice by wearing them to a lifeless, boring concrete corner. You be the judge.

prior to the one-hour makeover

Allison's concrete corner prior to my team's one-hour makeover.

The space, a 7 x 11 concrete-clad corner, houses her AC unit, and it’s also in direct sight by a neighboring house. What’s more, it’s the perfect, sunny spot to let her dogs Penny and Lucy run around while she waits for pots to boil, jumps on conference calls, or even gives her four-footed cuties a quick outdoor rinse with the hose. At night, it’s the perfect spot to step away from a group dinner for some one-on-one time with that needy friend-slash-guest (admit it, you know you have one).

Prior to my team’s one-hour makeover, Alison’s concrete corner was totally D-list. With the only focal points being a horrible AC unit and an electrical outlet, I decided I’d use the power of decorating to whip the space into shape … in less than an hour. How? By masking off the ugly-as-Hades AC unit, bringing in life, adding color, and using all mobile pieces. Check it.

Thanks to a white outdoor room divider, a plastic planter which doubles as ambient light once the sun goes down, and punches of color through easy-to-store outdoor accessories, what was a completely avoidable area is now welcoming and useful.

The Versare Outdoor Wicker Resin Room Divider took less than 10 minutes to situate. Simply adjust a few screws and bolts, get the adjustable feet to the proper height, and KAZAM!, no more nosy neighbors or ugly eyesores.

To bring some life into the dead space, I opted for a plastic planter that not only keeps greenery at the perfect height, but also doubles as ambient light once the California sun goes night-night. The Carma Resin Soft Glow Illuminated Planter simply plugs in. That’s that. Couldn’t be any easier to explain. But if you want more words, here you go: take it out of the box, throw the box away, remove the plastic wrap from the cord, unfurl the cord, add soil to the top, add plants and flowers, then plug in. Ha!

Trays: the perfect way to kinda-sorta add instant serving space without furniture. The Set of 3 Ansley Rattan Trays is easy to store since they nest inside one another, and they offer a size that’s perfect for holding just about anything – from drinks to magazines or just keeping accessories like sunglasses and keys contained in a specific spot. Speaking of keys and sunglasses, guess who cannot find his today because of lack of organization in his own house? Hint: The answer is me.

To pop some pattern into the space, a pair of graphic towels was designated for drying off the doggies after a quick hose-down. Once the shower is done, hang up the towels on the room divider, then return the next day to find ‘em all dried off. It’s like magic!

Sunbrella pillows. They work everywhere. If you aren’t familiar with Sunbrella and its brilliance … well then, I’m sorry. You should have known.

The Tag Bubble Glass Tumblers Set of 6 is another great way to pull a color scheme together in an outdoor space. We stuck with blue and white here in Alison’s spot, but these glasses also come in green, red, and a few neutrals; they can work with just about any color scheme. The bubble detail inside the glass brings a nice texture to the space as well. Speaking of bubbles, have you ever had that delicious bubble tea stuff? Damn, that’s good. You cannot get that at hayneedle.com, but still, you can put it into the glassware, then drink it.

- Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV designer/producer; Decor Demon

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