You might be thinking “wait, there’s still more to the Portland Project to reveal?” Well…yes. It was a BIG house (it was three stories, after all), and by the time we rolled out the interior spaces, it was the dead of winter and it didn’t feel timely to post about lush outdoor spaces when everyone was waist-deep in polar vortex snow.
So here we are, several months later, with the very last of the spaces—the upper deck and lower patio —to show you.
The hub of the big open house party we did last year, the bottom deck steps down into the full yard, and with all doors open, feels like it’s just an extension of the media room (which was the intention all along…the design team wanted to create a very indoor-outdoor vibe here). But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s actually start top to bottom and walk you through the upstairs deck, first.
THE UPPER DECK:
Just off the French doors of the family room is this covered patio, which started out MUCH smaller and far less functional:
You can see it up there in the “before” shot of the property. It was really just a small elevated deck with no covering (so, in Portland, with all the rain, probably usable 25% of calendar days, ha). The first order of business was to extend the area and cover it up.
For context, here is the full back exterior shot where you can see both the upper and lower decks. The third floor add-on provided the covering and ceiling we wanted for the upper deck, which was pushed out to create room for an outdoor living room and extended left and right for more “zones” like dining and entertaining. Don’t mind the baby plants – they are already way more grown in.
What was a patch of mulch essentially became the lower patio, and a staircase had to go in to connect both those spaces (with the landing serving as a great open spot for a grill).
As Californians (Emily from Oregon) this exterior area is kinda a dream because it has BEAUTIFUL views of the trees with two snowy and important mountains in the distance. You have privacy and yet it feels really open. Maybe this happens more often in Portland but to all of us it feels very covetable. The focal point up here is this awesome two-way gas fireplace by Montigo, which we clad in gray Clé tile (the same as the flooring in the front porch). It’s “see-through” and Em loved it so much she also is using it in the mountain house in the master bedroom.
The other side, as you might remember, is in the family room (above) and it pumps hot air to the outside which is perfect for the chilly Portland winters. It’s WONDERFUL and Emily highly recommends it. It turns on with a light switch and if you have it on full blast it can be loud (but so warm) so at both houses we have it on around 20% and its perfect.
Here’s a tip for anyone looking to create a kick-butt outdoor room that we used here: find (or create) your focal point (whether a fireplace like the one in this house, your sliding glass doors, a water feature…whatever you have), and build your room from there.
This helps to establish “zones” (tip #2). Before running out and buying furniture and accessories, map out what “zones” you want to create – this would likely be conversation areas or dining/drinking.
Here, we knew we wanted a big conversation area and plenty of lounging (this house was designed and built with a larger family in mind, so this was key), and a spot for dining and entertaining. (The upstairs area would function mostly for everyday use since it’s attached to indoor living areas and the kitchen, while downstairs would likely work best for larger parties.)
Also the windows cranked all the way open so you could hand food outside to the dining table.
We could have gone with a large, super deep coffee tables between the wicker Article sofas, but we made these two tables work, and they can obviously be separated (these are from Target). Those sofas are extremely comfortable, were the perfect scale for out here and the vibe of ‘modern traditional’ that we were going for.
The area to the left of the seating “zone” serves as our dining room, where we all sat for hours after the open house party last summer talking about our enneagrams, eating pizza and never wanting to leave, frankly. It’s important to remember your materials when you’re buying outdoor furniture, since it will wear far more quickly due to the elements than it would inside. This table from Article is made of raw teak, which is super durable and can stay out here uncovered. The chairs from City Home, however, aren’t recommended for constant outdoor use, so these would likely have to be stacked and stored when not in use.
Another thing to remember is lighting. We worked with Rejuvenation throughout the whole house for hardwired lighting, including on the decks. These cage lights are equal parts interesting and unobtrusive while the semi-flush fixtures lend an interior vibe that’s welcome in an outdoor room like this.
We love the idea of bringing a bar cart outdoors and setting it up with either a smaller cocktail station or something more family-friendly like a pitcher of iced tea and lemonade. This prevents you from having to run back inside every time someone’s drink hits bottom. The one we used here was from Target’s Project62 summer collection from last year, and it’s sadly no longer available, but this one is very similar with the same big circle wheel detail.
When not hosting an al fresco dinner, keep busy by delicately slicing fruit (preferable pears), of course.
Okay, ready to head downstairs now?
To avoid you having to scroll up to look at the before to compare what’s happening now as opposed to where it started, here it is again for ease of reading:
THE LOWER PATIO:
This whole area here (which spills out from the adjoining media room) didn’t exist, so it was basically carte blanche to do WHATEVER we wanted here, including bringing in a WOW moment with that medallion Clé tile and creating different levels for more usable zones.
Hot tip: With a traditional style tile like this, we love a border to help it look original. It also could have been way busy on the steps and looked messy without the black border.
Because we didn’t have the fireplace as our focal point down here, we created a few different conversation areas working within the french doors. When you can, I love two facing sofas because they are great for symmetry and easy for conversation. We kept them in coordinating pieces, just in different colors than the upper deck to better contrast with the floors.
We also set up loungers (from Article), which really amp up the “staycation” vibes of the property.
To the right side of the covered patio is another dining area:
These chairs are honestly SO comfortable, and the synthetic wicker means they can stay out all the time, instead of dragging them inside or under cover every time you think it might rain. The upholstered cushion seat is also removable, so it’s super easy to throw in the wash.
The rest of the yard needed some tending to (we worked with the wonderful Monrovia on all the plantings, and as soon as they grow in, we’ll be doing a post on the garden here), and to create even more entertaining zones, we had to flatten out a lot of the land.
From the lower deck, we added walkways out to a fire pit with seating for 10, and the nearby shed is extra storage for all the yard tools and machines. Also: HOW CUTE IS THAT SHED????
And finally, off in the distance of the above shot is the bocce ball court. We wanted to be sure the whole yard was usable space, both with activities as well as pretty plantings, flowers and enough flat grassy areas to run around.
And thus wraps up every. single. reveal of the Portland project. We know it’s been a LONG road, but we hope today’s post provided some inspiration for styling out your outdoor areas, no matter how big or small. Just remember some of the key tips we shared today: establish a focal point, create “zones” for conversation, dining and entertaining, layer in textiles to feel cozy and more like an interior space. Got it? Let us know if you have any questions, need any suggestions or more information about anything we talked about or showed you today.
Also, while the reveals are done, Emily is writing an “all the ways we could have saved money” post about this project, assuming that is interesting to you. Let us know in the comments. 🙂
1. Painted Stripe Pillow | 2. Blue Throw Pillow | 3. Outdoor Sconce by Rejuvenation | 4. Doors by Milgard | 5. Everyday Cotton Throw by Schoolhouse | 6. Wool Tweed Throw | 7. Calo Sofa by Article | 8. Jug Vase | 9. Oceans Wood Patio Coffee Table | 10. Semi-Flush Fixture by Rejuvenation | 11. Two-Tone Rope Rug by Annie Selke | 12. Grey Furrow Planter via Room and Board | 13. White Furrow Planter via Room and Board | 14. Belgian Reproduction Tile by Clé Tile | 15. Black Metal Tray (similar) | 16. Amber Glass (set of 4) | 17. Ceramic Pitcher | 18. Buffalo Check Napkin | 19. White Plates (set of 4) | 20. Cutting Board | 21. Pedestal Serve Bowl | 22. Bar Cart (similar) | 23. Fireplace by Montigo | 24. Poplar Basket with Handle | 25. Vase | 26. Marble Tray | 27. Small Outdoor Lantern (similar) | 28. Large Outdoor Lantern (similar) | 29. Stripe Napkin (set of 4) | 30. Graph Napkin | 31. Carafe | 32. Dip Bowls (set of 4) | 33. Pure Glass Vase | 34. Teaka Table by Article | 35. Metropolis Chair via City Home
1. Tan Pillow Cover | 2. Multicolor Pillow Cover | 3. Blue Throw Pillow | 4. Everyday Cotton Throw by Schoolhouse | 5. Black Solid Square by Clé Tile | 6. London Apothecary Tile by Clé Tile | 7. Outdoor Sconce by Rejuvenation | 8. Doors by Milgard | 9. Outdoor Sofa by Article | 10. Oceans Wood Patio Coffee Table | 11. Live Edge Media Console | 12. Large Outdoor Lantern (similar) | 13. Small Outdoor Lantern (similar) | 14. Vase | 15. Grey Furrow Planter via Room and Board | 16. White Furrow Planter via Room and Board | 17. Trapeze Glassware (set of 4) | 18. Pure Glass Vase | 19. Blue Suits Dinner Napkin (set of 4) | 20. Tavola Table by Article | 21. Teaka Lounge Chair by Article | 22. Ora Basket Chair by Article
For more Portland Project Room Reveals: Living Room | Staircase | Office | Master Bedroom | Master Bathroom | Kitchen | Dining Room | Powder Bathroom | Guest Bathroom | Hall Bathroom | Laundry Room | Guest Bedrooms | Media Room | Family Room | Rompus Room | Secret Room