Natural Perspectives: True outdoor living in Southern California

August 04, 2010|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • New patio furniture makes outdoor entertaining even more pleasant.
New patio furniture makes outdoor entertaining even… (Lou Murray, Independent )

Our lives just get better all the time. I stopped by Orchard Supply Hardware the other day to get a new pair of garden clogs. While I was there, I picked up a small outdoor shed for storing garden tools. That will eliminate a corner of tool clutter in the garage.

Vic and I made an upgrade to our patio three years ago with the addition of a fountain, outdoor rug made of recycled plastic and a table and two chairs for outdoor dining. I thought I was done with my deck makeover.

But while I was in Orchard Supply, I sat down on one of their patio furniture sets and did some thinking. And what I thought was how nice that set would look on our deck. We had a small table and two chairs for the two of us, and two swivel rockers for relaxing. But outdoor living has gone way beyond our 20-year-old swivel rockers with vinyl straps. Nowadays, people have outdoor sofas, loveseats and chairs with deep cushions, an entire set of comfy furniture complete with coffee tables and end tables. Setting up an outdoor living space with such furniture is the equivalent of adding a room onto the house.


So I bought the set — a loveseat, two chairs and a glass coffee table. The aluminum frames are painted to look like silvery-gray aged teak, a perfect match for our deck. The cushions are a rich, solid chestnut brown.

It took my long-suffering husband all afternoon to assemble the tool shed and unwrap all of the packing material from around the patio furniture. We filled the recycle bin with packing material. But wow, what a great improvement it made to our outdoor living experience. Now we can have people over to sit on the deck with us and enjoy al fresco dining.

I took a good, hard look at the other third of our deck/patio, and realized that over the years I had turned it into a potting and junk storage area. I'm not sure how that happened, but I was using prime deck space for purposes best relegated to the side yard. With the new storage shed in place, empty flower pots now had a place out of sight.

I moved the gas barbecue to a visually less conspicuous part of the deck and put the two swivel rockers where the barbecue had been. Some judicious rearrangement of plants nearly completed the makeover. The final step was the purchase of a lovely rex begonia and shiny brown pot from Armstrong Garden Centers. Set on top of the new smoked glass coffee table, the deep brownish-purple plant was a perfect foil to the brown loveseat and chair cushions.

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