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Design

Jess’ Shared Patio Intro – SURPRISE She’s Designing Two Outdoor Spaces At Once!

Remember back when I first talked about my crazy list of demands for moving into a new apartment? Well, a private outdoor space was very high on the list. The universe clearly was trying to show off because it was like, “Ha. I’ll do you one better. How about a little weird balcony AND a communal patio where you can hang out with more than one person at a time??” So yes, there are not one but two places I can happily get feasted on by mosquitos!

Now at first glance, I wouldn’t call this a dreamy-looking patio setup despite the building being dreamy. There’s a handful of mismatched and nearly unusable pieces of furniture and a floor slant that is well, not not insignificant. BUT the size is great, the building next door gives a beautiful backdrop, and in my dreams, my neighbors and I can all use the main wall to project movies on warm (soon-to-be-fall) nights.

I had heard that my truly wonderful landlord (I know I’ve said it before but a great landlord should be celebrated always) wanted to spiff it up early last year but we all know what happened last March. Understandably she put a halt to those plans. But then a very pushy, design-obsessed tenant moved in last November (I am that tenant) and had her heart set on making that patio a retreat for everyone in the building. Plus it’s not a bad way to make good with the neighbors amirite? So let’s take a look at what I’m working with:

See what I mean?? A large space that needs A LOT of love. Here is my list of needs and upgrades:

  • All new furniture
  • A large rug (or two since the stairway is in the way)
  • String lights (need some mood lighting stat!)
  • Lots of plants
  • Classic but modern design to go with style of the building
  • A new peg rail!

Speaking of a new peg rail, this one really has to go. It was rotting, looked too small, and was ultimately useless. Now a huge part of this makeover was that I didn’t want to make any new holes if I didn’t absolutely have to. This is a beautiful old building and I want to preserve it the best I possibly can.

So with the help of the one and only Les Bunge, we just made a new beautiful rail using the existing holes. I really like waiting for a big reveal so sorry but no teaser shots:)

Plants are a super important part of this design because I want it to feel kinda private and lush. The side that looks over the driveway isn’t too bad of a view but I think will be SO pretty with a handful of sturdy vines and a couple of flowering plants. Any specific recommendations are welcome!! I really don’t want succulents because they aren’t the vibe. But whatever they are, they need to be able to handle a lot of heat and full sun. HELP!

Ok, ONE sneak peek! Here is how my dad installed the solar string patio lights. We went to Home Depot, bought these two posts and these adjustable clamps (can’t exactly remember which size but it’s different for every project) and then banded the posts to the railings on each side of the patio. No holes made and not totally offensive to the eye. Originally my dad said we should get straps (they were black and red) and against my better judgment, I didn’t say no…in the store. While he might disagree, I really tried to not be a total pain in the butt and thought “Jess, your dad is doing a MASSIVE favor, so stop being such a design snob and be ok with these ugly straps!”. Well, I should have said something because I just couldn’t do it (and he also agreed in the end) so back to Home Depot for at least the thrid time that day.

I plan to camouflage the banding with plants so I think it’s going to be great. Now, my only issue is that I think my landlord might want me to paint the posts the color of the railing… I don’t hate that idea but also the railings are pretty aged so a freshly painted post might look off. Stay tuned.

Adding in solar lights was also a way to make this as landlord-friendly as possible so she didn’t have anything added to her electric bill. Plus it worked out for me because I didn’t have to worry about factoring where a plug was. It’s a win for my landlord, me, and the earth. And there’s LB installing the solar panel into the post, thus not making new holes into the building or railing:)

Here it is at night! Isn’t it so pretty??

The technical stuff is now over and now we can FINALLY talk about the pretty stuff.

I kept the color palette pretty similar to my balcony because it just feels right for the building. This also is technically my first time designing for someone other than just me! So I needed to keep the design crowd-pleasing and classic but still special and interesting. I’m pretty darn happy where I ended up:) Also know that these mood boards are very bare-bones so don’t worry, much more will be added. But first, let’s start at the beginning. The first attempt…

Moodboard One

Umbrella | Sofa | String Lights | All Blue Pillow | Cream and Blue Pillow | Coffee Table | Striped Rug | Jute Rug | Dining Chairs | Dining Table | Planter | Fabric Chair | Lumbar Pillow

I don’t dislike this one but it really just felt too toned down. Ultimately I wanted more pattern and a just more “fun”. Plus I think that a black peg rail would have been a little too visually intense. Onto the next…

Moodboard Two

Umbrella | Sofa | String Lights | Coffee Table | Striped Rug | Dining Chairs | Dining Table | Planter | Fabric Lounge | Peg Rail

I think that while VERY fun this is what is considered an “overcorrection”. Basically, I fell deeply in love with that umbrella (they have a cabana version too!) so I desperately tried to make it work but it wasn’t right for the building. Too “Palm Springs” if you will. Plus the color of that rug would have blended in way too much with the existing tile. However, I love the texture that dining table brought in so it’s a keeper:) Also, see how much better the light wood peg rail tone is??

Moodboard Three (And Final…Probably:))

Umbrella | Sofa | String Lights | Coffee Table | Blue Rug | Dining Chairs | Dining Table | Planter | Round Rug | Accent Chair | Pouf | Peg Rail

Here we are! First, the change in sofa cushion color made a HUGE difference in making this design really pop and is honestly MUCH more practical for a shared outdoor space used by 14 units. Plus the fabric of the sofa and chair is Sunbrella! Couldn’t be more pumped. But there’s a sofa cover too which I plan to make everyone use. Maybe I won’t actually be that popular. Then I really wanted some bold contrast so that awesome blue outdoor rug that leans just the right amount of traditional and that super sweet striped umbrella checked that box real quick. But to make sure I’m spreading the blue love around I found these folding Target bistro chairs for the other side of the patio. I did purchase these already and I LOVE them. They are hard to find now (I had to drive two hours to get two of them) but I think they are a recurring style every year. Likely because they are super cute and so comfortable.

Let’s talk about that lounge chair for a sec. You might recognize it from Shavonda’s backyard reveal! The moment I saw them in that post I instantly wanted them but at the time had zero outdoor space. Well friends, times have certainly changed and I can’t wait to stare AND sit on it in person.

So this is where I am at and I couldn’t be more excited. I can’t wait for everything to arrive and to style the heck out of it. I also want to let you know that my balcony is actually done and we are shooting it THIS WEEK!!! So I promise I didn’t lose focus and you are about to get some really fun outdoor content just as we are heading hopefully out of this not great 90-degree weather, at least here in LA:)

Love you, mean it.

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Gretchen
1 month ago

Wow – It’s going to be beautiful! I love the idea of movie nights on that big wall. Your landlady is lucky to have you. How many apartments share the space?

Mkw
1 month ago

Will there be a shared grill?

Sara
1 month ago

I like where this is headed, looks great! I’m trying to wrap my head around the peg rail though. What is the purpose of having a peg rail in a shared patio space? What’s the intended use? I was just thinking if you kept that wall bare then you really could project movies there.

Bre
1 month ago
Reply to  Sara

There’s already holes in the wall and I don’t think she wants to patch them.

Kanl
1 month ago
Reply to  Sara

Wondered about that peg rail too, what its intended use? Also wondering who is paying for all the upgrades and pricey furniture? Love the look and the design direction you’re taking😍

Cheryl
1 month ago
Reply to  Sara

Love these boards! So much eye candy.
I found the peg rail intriguing as well! Are we hanging towels, planters, what’s the deal? Why not remove it and spackle/paint over the holes?

Jessica
1 month ago

All of the items you’ve chosen are lovely, but as it is a space shared by 14 units, I would advocate for more separate seating than 1 large sofa and only one individual chair that isn’t a lounger. People will be more comfortable using the space with options for individual seating and things that can be moved around for their own preferences for sun and shade. Also, none of the individual chairs in the 3rd mood board (in contrast to the first) have any arms on them which greatly increase the comfort for a long hang/read/chat. And if you need to paint the posts to match the railing, you could slap a new coat of paint on the rails so it all feels fresh and cohesive. Enjoy the “new” space!

Molly
1 month ago
Reply to  Jessica

Just about to say the same thing. Obviously you’d have to figure out if it would all fit, but I would try to squeeze in a couple armchairs to flank the sofa and a second table/chairs in lieu of the single lounge/ottoman. Potentially 3 groups could hang then. I’d recommend rosemary and lantana and stopping by a good local nursery and asking them for drought tolerant recommendations. Also, Rainbird dripline on a timer – they make 1/4 in line for pots!

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Molly

If she does lantana, she should look into ‘dwarf’ varieties – lantana can get 6 feet or taller in a good spot/climate. They may want something not quite as tall, and fuller rather than leggy (to make regular lantana full, you have to trim them often).

kk
1 month ago
Reply to  Jessica

Agreed with thinking about groups with multiple uses of space..I’d also say that the umbrella should be kept, since it it durable and conversation. lot of square feet and the tables at the very least can get re-used to create drinks tables, utility tables, multilevel staging for plants , etc… Glass tables wear well and trust me, you will want more staging surfaces…

kk
1 month ago
Reply to  kk

Replying to myself to add , as a veteran of outdoor patio container garden, For the rug I recommend a hard as nails acrylic that wont require maintenance, won’t shed, won’t have the white look dirty, won’t rot, , won’t have the blue fade in a year. A tacky acrylic tan or light green from a big box store or closeout store is great. Trust me, you wont notice it underfoot once the plants get staged.

Deb
1 month ago
Reply to  Jessica

I agree. If the dining chairs in the 3rd mood board were sturdier, something with a wide seat, high weight limit (and yes, arms – but only if they have a wide seat), they could be comfortable additional seating. But these chairs are more for perching, rather than hanging out.

Kj
1 month ago

I water my pots only twice a week in Dallas so tough plants are a requirement. I have arbequina olive, kimberley queen fern, rosemary, rex begonias, ponytail palm and succulents. Don’t write off succulents! There are literally a million types/shapes/looks.

kk
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

Yeah I just found out ponytail palm IS a succulent! I’d recommend lavender, morning glories, Salvia.. and I believe I made an extensive set of plant recommendations on your last outdoor post…

Cheryl
1 month ago
Reply to  kk

How about jasmine? Loves to climb and beautiful smelling white flowers.

Lori
1 month ago

Could you do something like an upright columnar non-prickly cactus to screen the view? Maybe something like Peruvian apple cactus? Vines can be such a maintenance PITA and it doesn’t look like you have room for a very wide planter right there.
Really intrigued by the sofa you’re getting– plz report back on comfort and sturdiness!

Marian
1 month ago

Do bamboo in one long horizontal pot against the fence! It’s hardy AF, grows quickly, and makes for a super lush privacy screen. It also rustles in the wind which is my fave.

Elly
1 month ago

Side questions: who is paying for these upgrades? If you’re getting the landlord to pay for any of this I would love to hear how you approached her

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

I wonder if the neighbors mind those lights shining into their windows all night? (There’s also the “dark sky” movement- but I guess LA is a lost cause on that front.) What is the purpose of the peg rail? Won’t it interfere with movie viewing? All of your schemes are nice. I sort of like the first one most, but I can see why you might want more color. If you get a good outdoor fabric, you shouldn’t need to worry about getting stains on the upholstery- a hose-off should be enough, no? As far as plants, the larger the pot, the better, for keeping enough water on them. Maybe someone at the nursery can recommend something that will provide good screening and not shrivel in the dry heat in a pot. You might need to provide some sturdy trellises to help the plants stay upright and compact. Maybe driving around the neighborhood, you will see some good candidates that are thriving in pots. Have fun. Did you reveal your balcony already and I somehow missed it? Can’t wait to see the final!

Eve
1 month ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

I’m also confused as to what the peg rail is for?

But it’s a really nice overall plan, I doubt those string lights would be bright enough to bother neighbours.

kk
1 month ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Yeah I second the motion to try to support insects as much as possible and cut light pollution for the neighbors and find a way to turn the lights out at night ! …Some solar lights have a switch…

Stassy
1 month ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Re: light pollution – I have solar outdoor lights and it’s possible to turn them on and off with a button.

Sunny
1 month ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

I would bet the solar lights have an option for a timer of 4-5-6 hours daily that could be set with the push of button.

Karyn Meadows
1 month ago

Hi Jess, your plan is gorgeous and I think everyone in your building (including your landlord) will love it. Just one thought…you mentioned covering the string wrapped pole with plants. But then you will cover the solar panel! How will you address that?

Kaye
1 month ago

I’m glad you called out mosquitoes… what is happening here in LA!? There NEVER used to be mosquitoes and now we can’t barely sit outside at night. Any recommendations from folks who have had to deal with them? We’ve tried fans, coils, natural spray, citronella… nothing seems to work!

Deb
1 month ago
Reply to  Kaye

we have found a lemon-eucalyptus spray that works really well. It’s called Repel. All the campers on my last trip used it, instead of their own because it’s good. Works against no-see-ums too.

Amber
1 month ago
Reply to  Kaye

A fan is one of the only remedies found to actually deter mosquitos.

Lori
1 month ago
Reply to  Kaye

I swear by my Thermacell here in mosquito-y Texas. The only downside is that it takes 10 minutes to work once you fire it up.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Kaye

1) If you can’t or won’t use DEET, look for picaridin (a plant derivative, not a synthetic chemical) for the sprays you put on people. Picaridin protects against mosquito species that carry zika and dengue as well as kissing bugs (Chagas disease). A lot of natural ingredients don’t repel all mosquito species, so you need a few in your spray for broad protection. We have had good success with the Off! Skintastic brand, I usually look for ones that say they are for family/kids camping bc they won’t have DEET but will have a higher concentration of picaridin plus other extracts that also help (and smell good to my kids). 2) Other ingredients that are helpful are lemonene, citronella (can cause light sensitivity in some people until it’s washed off, so test it first), lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil, lavendar oil, soybean oil, thymeoil, rosemary oil, dill oil, elderberry oil (really good for fleas, meh for everything else). Often these natural sprays have an herby, vanilla, or citrusy smell from the ingredients and that’s fine, but avoid ones with added frangrance (even natural fragrance) bc they tend to attract bugs while the other ingredients are trying to repel bugs –… Read more »

Cheryl
1 month ago
Reply to  Kaye

You can also plant lemongrass and citronella! Mosquitos hate it.

priscilla
1 month ago

The umbrella in mood board 2 is the exact umbrella my grandmother had poolside in the 50s (Brentwood). It slammed me back to my youth so fast!

Andrea
1 month ago

Sunbrella fabric is a great call. I echo the comments of another poster that for a 14 unit building, every purchase needs to be focused on durability- especially if it’s all sun exposed. I’m assuming that this is a sponsored or discounted project through EDH, but chairs from target are not suitable for this kind of use- they will be next year’s junk. For anyone looking to outfit a communal space- you need to invest in commercial grade furniture and accessories!

KD
1 month ago

All the heart eyes for option three! Brava!

Patricia
1 month ago

trumpet vine. Very hardy, can take the sun and humming birds love the big orange trumpet shaped flowers

MJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Patricia

Yes, I have trumpet vine in Tucson, AZ and it’s been doing great for years! If it can handle AZ sun it should do great in LA 🙂

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Patricia

Someone else said trumpet vine is invasive, I checked on Landscape & Gardening Stack Exchange and those folks also say it is very invasive.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Patricia

No, use “Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), a.k.a. iron cross vine, is a native evergreen with yellow and red trumpet-shaped spring flowers. It is much less aggressive than its lookalike relative trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), which nobody recommends planting. It is highly invasive and difficult to get rid of.”

AshleyB
1 month ago

Love all the mood boards, what a great space!
Pacific Wax Myrtle would create a luscious (and low maintenance) green screen.
https://www.monrovia.com/pacific-wax-myrtle.html
It’s also a native plant and a great food source for birds.
https://www.audubon.org/content/why-native-plants-matter

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  AshleyB

Yay for native plants that help our fellow Earthlings of other species!

Alex
1 month ago

I highly recommend salvias for the planters, they love intense sun and are drown tolerant. They come in all different colors and some varities can be quite thick and tall which would provide some great privacy (look at Black and Bloom Variety). I would also add in some jasmine as an evergreen layer, they also do well in pots, are drought tolerance and can take full sun.

Lu
1 month ago

Trumpet vine is great . Have seen it used to great effect both in upstate New York as an indoor plant and in Charleston ,SC year round

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Lu

No, use “Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), a.k.a. iron cross vine, is a native evergreen with yellow and red trumpet-shaped spring flowers. It is much less aggressive than its lookalike relative trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), which nobody recommends planting. It is highly invasive and difficult to get rid of.”

Nancy
1 month ago

Dang it, I love the blue and white rug in the 3rd board but it’s about $2000$!

Mandevilla is a beautiful flowering vine but not drought tolerant. Bamboo is great idea.

Emily
1 month ago

Trumpet vine is actually really invasive. Beautiful but invasive. In a pot it’s less noxious but if a seeds is spread via a bird or wind, someone else will be miserable. We had some in our yard growing up and my dad had to dig a three foot hole and burn it out to get rid of it. If you want a similar look, trumpet honeysuckle is pretty and non-invasive.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily

Yes, use “Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), a.k.a. iron cross vine, is a native evergreen with yellow and red trumpet-shaped spring flowers. It is much less aggressive than its lookalike relative trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), which nobody recommends planting. It is highly invasive and difficult to get rid of.”

Sarah
1 month ago

Hey if you have mosquitos in LA and aren’t near water, google vector control and have someone come find the source of mosquitos. Learned that from the gold hive. You may not have to live with mosquitos.

1 month ago

I had a lot of the same thoughts as others: Add more seating? Add more chairs with arms and wider seats? Why (other than pre-existing holes) add a pegrail? Is hoping for the landlord to chip in a possibility?

Personally, I prefer Option 2 the most. Looking forward to the reveal.

margaret
1 month ago

This reminds me of a post earlier this summer where two EHD contributors were going to re-do their balconies/outdoor spaces by late July (if I’m not mistaken). DId that ever happen? Did I somehow miss the post?
(Really like the 3d mood board – very pretty!)

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  margaret

we are both shooting tomorrow!!! very exciting 🙂

Trudy
1 month ago

Nancy Goslee Power is a renowned landscape designer, and former interior designer, in LA. Her home courtyard gardens have been published in numerous articles and her books. The courtyard gardens are inspirational and would give you some good ideas on plants, including potted plants, for this project.
I like your plan, but I think you need more seating for 14 apartments – maybe a sectional, rather than a sofa? And a couple of lounge chairs for the sun bathers? Or a bistro table or two plus more dining chairs.

J
1 month ago

Hi! lovely design, but can I advocate for furniture that is a bit more sturdy and long wearing? In particular the dining chairs. If this is a shared space, you need to think of all residents that will be using the space and how much wear and tear the furniture gets. Esp. outdoor furniture. Something that has a higher weight capacity, with arms (keeping children contained/ for comfort), less moveable joints (like the folding action) and in stain resistant fabrics needs to be considered. We often don’t consider construction when planning our personal spaces and the design side, but for a commercial space or an entertaining space it needs to be considered.

Jill J
1 month ago

How about a Bougainvillea plant? They would give such a lovely pop of color!

Michelle
1 month ago

Love the inspriation boards–whatever your arrangement is, your landlord is getting a great deal! I am also curious about the reason for the peg board. And I may be in the minority (and I know they look great), but I hate carpets outside. Who wants to clean that?

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