Courtyard Oasis

There's a restaurant in New Orleans called Cafe Amelie that has the most...amazing...courtyard.  The first time I ate there, I knew that's what I wanted my own yard to feel like.  Years later, we're just about there! 

Our backyard was pretty hideous to begin, but we've slowly upgraded the permanent structures.  We removed ugly old trees, built a tall fence with modern horizontal lines and built a storage shed that seamlessly blends into the design. 

Next came the brick work.  Joey and I spent two long weekends expanding and redesigning the original brick patio.  We re-purposed old bricks for the new section, so it blends with the existing patio.  It's now centered in the yard and twice as big as it used to be!

The real show-stopper, however, were the brick planters!  I did the design and our incredible contractor Dragan executed the elaborate, overlapping brick work.  The design's soft curves contrast nicely with the geometric lines of the fence and the varying heights add another level of interest.

After practically buying out Perino's entire garden center and spending another weekend planting and installing the fountain and irrigation system, the makeover coming along nicely.  We still need to hardwire the fountain, add lighting, furniture and build a deck, but I think we have a great start!

Whitney and Jonathan's Peruvian Party

DSC02525 Honestly, I feel like half my blog posts somehow involve Whitney and Jonathan.  They are our dear neighbors here in New Orleans and happen to be some of the most unbelievably creative folks I know.  Recently, they got hitched in Peru and held a fantastic soiree at their stunning Garden District home to celebrate the occasion.

Of course, I just had to share some of the fun times and creative touches!  Whitney has two trademark elements at every party: beautiful flowers and great food.  This bash did not disappoint.  Their home was dotted with lush peonies, hydrangeas and wildflowers.  As for the food, they had the brilliant idea of hiring a gourmet truck called La Cocinita!  It was easy, required no clean-up and had all the guests buzzing.

As usual, the Peruvian party was a complete success!

Start Saving Your Pennies! Celine Dion's Estate is on the Market

Celine Dion's House for Sale, Courtesy Freshome My best friend Deepak has a not-so-secret obsession with Celine Dion.  He's been trying to drag me to her damn show in Las Vegas since the day it opened.  So, for Christmas next year, I think I'm going to save my pennies and buy him her sprawling $72 million estate, which just went on the market.

Best Christmas present EVER!

So that won't actually happen, but a girl can dream... right!?  The ocean-front Florida estate is located on Jupiter Island.  According to Freshome, it includes an impressive waterpark, 5 individual pavillions, several pools and even a tennis court.  Did I mention, it's absolutely stunning!?

Weekend Planting Project

Since Joe and I moved into our first homestead, we've done A LOT of work in the backyard.  Unfortunately, it still looks like crap.

The "yard" was filled with some hideous plants that needed to come out before we could put anything back in.  Joe spent a few labor-intensive weekends removing the bars from our windows, pulling out three huge (and might I add, thorny) holly bushes that were blocking the light through our windows and one massive crepe myrtle that was shedding into our yard and the neighbor's.  When the summer blooms started to fall, it looked like a pink, floral apocalypse.

With all the removal complete, it's now time to start brining plants back in.  The planter directly next to our house was top priority because the wood lattice that used to be covered by holly bushes now sticks out like a sore thumb.  For the planter, I chose boxwoods, ornamental grass, mondo grass and camellias.  The boxwoods will grow together, forming a 3-4 foot shrub that will disguise the lattice, while the grasses will fill in the front.  Each end is capped with a gorgeous white camellia bush that will help disguise the air conditioning unit and staircase.

Now I just need to break out the power washer and take care of the ugly green mildew on our siding...

Choosing the Right Patio Furniture

Choosing the Right Patio Furniture

With the summer heat inching closer, it's time to spruce up your backyard or patio.  These days, there are so many options that picking the right furniture set can be a daunting task.  Here are some tips from a pro!

The Pool and Patio Center in Metairie has no shortage of outdoor furniture options, but picking the right one can be mind boggling.  When helping a shopper, owner Bruce Aronson always starts by asking how they will use the space.  He says that'll help decide what type of set will fit your needs.  He then asks about your color palette and style. Aronson says, “It’s not only just like your interior, it’s no longer your backyard, it’s no longer a patio, it’s an outdoor room.”

The options are endless.  These days you can buy upholstery, rugs, pillows, lighting and even drapes.  “Everything you can put into an indoor room, we can put outside.”  Instead of going bold with your furniture, go bold with accessories instead.  For example, if you have a seating set with a neutral palette, add bright throw pillows and a blanket to spice things up.  That'll keep you from buying something too bold or too trendy that may go out of style.

Be prepared to spend some dough! High-quality pieces will cost a pretty penny, but Aronson says they're worth it.  “I don’t know if it’s any more expensive than furniture you’re using inside.  And certainly when you’re putting furniture outside that’s going to be exposed to the elements and used and abused.  Wine is going to be spilt on it, rain is going to be spilt on it, you want something that can last.”

When you've determined the perfect size, style, palette and price range, don't forget to keep it covered, clean and protected.  Follow my tips and you can kick up your heels for years to come!