We have a standing family movie night every Friday. But when you have small kids, somehow they forget about it, and you get to basically surprise them with “Christmas” every week. So imagine how excited they were when I said it was going to involve being outside, like camping with friends, s’mores, hot chocolate, a campfire and cartoons they have never seen before. They had no idea that they were about to have the best night of their lives.
But why do my children get this treat? Because one of the most fun parts of our job is to take a cool product that we love, tell a story around it, style it out in a way that makes for fun content, and create and shoot pretty photos (and good information, obviously). Intel (who we worked with on this post) has a new product that I am very into. I had an extreme desire to do an outdoor movie night and my friends have this insane backyard that needed us to bombard it with children and faux fur. So naturally, we decided and wanted to create something very special to make everyone happy.
So let’s talk for a moment about what inspired this post. That cute little unit up there that you see (the little black box on the left) is what powered the whole night and after spending an evening under the stars all cuddled up with my kids and friends, I have to say that I am very into it. The Intel NUC is a powerful mini PC that is only 4 inches square and is capable of just about anything—entertainment, gaming, a portable hard drive and even the home of thousands of movies like ours is.
It is totally plug-and-play and could not be easier for us to set up. It comes ready to go with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and a Windows operating system, which means anything you want to do on a PC you can do here. It can be plugged into a TV, a monitor or even a projector like we did which allows it to go virtually anywhere. So naturally, we took it outside.
It took me forever to understand what it was as it can be used for so many different things, but here’s what I realized it was for us: we could load it up full of kid-friendly, parent-approved movies and take it on road trips, camping trips, hotel rooms and have a database of family movies at our fingers in which we don’t have to stream, have WiFi nor have it take up space on our laptops. The upload portion is the only thing that takes a bit of time, but once you have them all uploaded on there, you can use it virtually anywhere as a mini PC without WiFi needed.
That’s why it’s so awesome.
So how did we pull this all together? Well, first we came up with a theme because every outdoor movie night needs a theme and ours was a “vintage camping night.” We jokingly called the art direction “Prairie meets Pacific Northwest meets Hipster meets Kinfolk in the Pacific Northwest for 30-somethings that don’t really know how to camp with a hit of ‘military chic'” Still with me?! We are nothing if not descriptive here at EHD.
Once we had the theme, we started brainstorming how it would all come together and we had a clear direction of the main elements that we wanted as well as a few that we would DIY to make it more custom and fun for this event. Brady and I constantly go back and forth on the whole “do-it-yourself” thing as he seems to think that everything can be made or DIYed in some form or fashion. So when he suggested two DIYs for this backyard event I let him run with it, but I assure you these projects are actually very easy and can be done by anyone. Each is only a few steps and took less than an hour. For those interested, here are the details on those:
The screen: This was an easy DIY (it really was easy) that Brady put together using readymade cast iron pipes from the home improvement store. The top and sides are both 10’x1/2″ pipes that are pre-threaded on each end. He joined them all together using 90-degree elbow joints and then added feet on the bottom by attaching 24-inch pipes to the bottom to form a T (and the feet of the screen). For the actual screen, we used a 9’x12′ dropcloth and attached it with clamps. By using the pre-threaded pipes, it means that it is easy to take up and down and you better believe that we are going to take that thing up to the mountain house for many a movie night in the backyard. If you tuned out as soon as we said “home improvement store,” we linked to a screen frame that you can rent down in the Get the Look. It’s a lot smaller but it would do the trick if you are local in LA and are not into the DIY thing.
The loungers: If you haven’t reclined on a custom plywood lounger while outside in your backyard whilst watching cartoons with your kids then you have not fully lounged. These were another DIY that Brady put together for the backyard party (again very easy) and it created a really simple way for us to recline with our families all together for optimal cuddling.
Please ignore my husband ignoring our child while on his phone. He was trying to order pizza online for everyone because I literally only provided s’mores and hot chocolate and popcorn and thought people would want “food” and “nutrition.” But I couldn’t not post that photo of Charlie because it’s just so cute (we used the ‘omg I just tooted’ method of child wrangling to get him to smile.” Also yes, Brian has a tattoo of his dad flying a plane in Vietnam. He got it this year and it’s awesome.
They were made by using two cut pieces of plywood. We had ours cut down to 24″ x 80″ and then joined them together using brass hinges. That’s it. Once the A-frame was made, we layered a queen mattress pad on top of it and covered it with oversized pillows and blankets (obviously, neutral plaids and cozy knits).
Speaking of textiles, let’s talk for a moment about all those beautiful throws and pillows. For the kids, we set up a few different areas for them to hang out (read: lay down face first in pillows with a mouthful of marshmallows). We used an outdoor roller sunshade from the local home improvement store (but you can also go with a bamboo rug) for the base on the main one and cut the cords off which gave us a large vinyl foundation to then layer the pillows and throws onto. All of the exact pieces are linked up below so that you can recreate the look but most of the larger pillows were rented from our friends at Found Rentals (who are an amazing resource for just about anything you need for an event if you are in LA). We then supplemented with some of our favorites from Pendleton (you can’t have a campout without Pendleton, and boy do I love these blankets), as well as Target and World Market who provided a very cozy place for the kids and adults with their blankets.
But most importantly, we sourced a vintage army tent for them to hang out in with their lanterns and popcorn. That tent was only $90 at the army surplus supply shop, by the way, and the washed canvas is so pretty. Some of the pillows we borrowed from Found Rentals were made out of the same army canvas and it is now giving me a lot of canvas repurposing ideas. Is army canvas the new linen?
Look at those happy and VERY sticky faces.
To help the textiles from looking too chaotic and thrifted (which can happen when mixing plaids and stripes and patterns) we picked a color palette and then selected a variety of sizes and patterns within that palette. We went with neutral tones (white, cream, army green and gray) and then added some interest with a few patterned and striped options within that color palette. By sticking to three to four colors, it really allowed us to layer on multiple textiles without it looking chaotic, thrifted or too crazy.
To further create some ambiance and mood (as if we didn’t already have enough), we hung some string lights (which we sourced online from lights.com) from the tree in the back of the yard up to the movie screen. They not only created a false ceiling but a dreamy space to lounge under once the sun went down. They provided just the right amount of dim glow over the whole yard while still allowing the movie to be clearly seen. A quick note on attaching them to your screen: We staked down our screen using tent stakes to help it from tipping or falling forward once the lights were attached to the corners of it.
If you haven’t snagged the below leather pillow from Target yet (we used it as well in our recent living room makeover) then you should. The texture on it is so good and it complemented the tent and the blue striped pillow from Jayson Home perfectly.
Over on the other side of the yard, we pulled together the ultimate campfire (in the city) station.
Admittedly, expensive throws and FAUX FUR should not accompany a party with s’mores and toddlers. Nor should leather buckets hold your s’mores sticks, but it ended up fine and it made the movie night and the pictures look so beautiful. I’m definitely adding that plaid throw and leather bucket to my collection but hot marshmallow + sheepskin pelts = epically bad idea. If it is just adults, you can expect that they probably wouldn’t smear their faces all over said blankets like the kids attempted to do but now that you have my warning you are free to toss those textiles all over that backyard for your next campout.
Our friends Corbett and Leigh (remember their living room and dining room from last year?) have this gas fire pit that we used at the beginning of the night before the sun went down with the kids. We bought a bunch of cut logs from a dude on Craigslist to use as little stools ($20 each and I’m going to take them to the mountain house) and roasted s’mores and made hot chocolate. Our kids haven’t gone camping yet, not even glamping. So this little intro to the “campout life” got me very excited for what is to come.
I mean, how cute can kids be, even if smeared with sticky marshmallow and swinging red-hot fire pokers around after their marshmallow caught on fire.
This is the picture where I taught both Charlie and Birdie that you can’t directly put your marshmallow into the fire as it will catch fire and will not end up being what they expected it to taste or look like. Simple life lessons.
The fire pit proved to be very fun for both the kids and adults, but how could it not be when it is placed in this perfect location looking over the city as the sun was going down. Well done Leigh and Corbs on this backyard you guys designed.
Oh, I almost forgot. We also popped our own popcorn over the fire. Truthfully, the waiting for the popcorn to start popping wasn’t very fun for the kiddos but once they heard the little pops it became a fun activity.
We used paper lunch bags on a tray and rolled down the edges so that everyone would have their own little individual bag of popcorn when it came time for movie viewing.
This leather bucket from Jayson Home was way too beautiful not to prop the popcorn out in for the shoot. Pretty sure I only want leather buckets in my life moving forward.
We made hot chocolate because when you have a ton of toddlers and white fabric, what else would you serve them?
What you see below is Charlie living his BEST LIFE.
Please note the s’mores in one hand as he leans over and drinks his sugar-filled brown water. To try and keep spills at bay (we tried), we used mason jar mugs for the kids with screw-top lids that held a straw which helped quite a bit as the kids tried to juggle s’more, popcorn, movie, hot chocolate, repeat. For the adults, we had marbled enamelware mugs that felt very camp-theme appropriate.
The kids were so into the movie night and the fact that we now have every parent-approved movie on this little device that we can take with us and I can throw into my purse or bag for traveling makes the thought of movie night with the kids so much more manageable.
Full disclosure: we laid all the kids (messy chocolate covered hands and all) head to head together for this shot specifically but it was worth it. They were so happy, possibly from the sugar high, and were having so much fun to capture all of the memories from that night in one joy-filled picture is pretty cute.
There are Leigh and Corbs (the homeowners) and their little family. Thanks for letting us crash your backyard for a few days to shoot this and thank you for having the most epically beautiful backyard for us to create a movie night in.
All in all, we had such a fun time with the kids and it is something that I look forward to doing time and time again up at the mountain house. Sure, there may not be layered textiles in the perfectly coordinated palette but we will have the ease of bringing all of our movies on the go with the Intel NUC so that anywhere we go we can watch something together. Happy movie-ing my friends and have a wonderful weekend.
1. Vintage Army Canvas Pillow (Original via Found Rentals) | 2. Waxed Canvas Army Pillow (Original via Found Rentals) | 3. Lumbar Canvas Pillow (Original via Found Rentals) | 4. Faux Fur Throw Blanket | 5. Lantern | 6. Mason Jar Mug | 7. Wood Tray via World Market | 8. String Lights | 9. Intel NUC | 10. Side Table | 11. Slated Chair | 12. Striped Rug | 13. Square Floor Pillow | 14. Leather Pillow | 15. Table in a Bag | 16. Shearling Rug by World Market | 17. Stoneware Growler | 18. Striped Straws | 19. Enamel Mug | 20. Army Tent (similar) | 21. Brass Hinges (similar) | 22. Plywood (similar) | 23. Mattress Topper | 24. B & W Plaid Throw | 25. Large Lantern | 26. Medium Lantern | 27. Wood Plates | 28. S’more Sticks | 29. Gray Pillow (Original via Found Rentals) | 30. Striped Gray Pillow (Original via Found Rentals) | 31. Navy Striped Lumbar Pillow | 32. Large Striped Pillow (Original via Found Rentals) | 33. Wire Basket | 34. Leather-Wrapped Thermos | 35. Enamel Tea Pot | 36. Black Tray by World Market | 37. Sackcloth & Ashes Arrow Black Blanket by World Market | 38. Stadium Throw Blanket | 39. Striped Throw | 40. Triangle Throw | 41. Old Fashioned Popcorn Popper | 42. Leather Kindling Bucket | 43. Rechargeable Lantern | 44. Leather Bucket | 45. Green & Brown Plaid Throw | 46. Rack | 47. Canvas | 48. Bamboo Mat | 49. Large Canvas Cushions (Original via Found Rentals) | 50. Navy & Cream Striped Lumbar Pillow | 51. Tassel Pillow | 52. Cream Fringe Pillow
***Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD, art direction by me, styling and production by Brady Tolbert and Assisting by Emily Bowser