Monday, May 25, 2015

Our al fresco dining courtyard takes shape with string lights

The big project of the weekend was getting our string lights installed around the courtyard.  When last you saw the courtyard we were spreading out the pea stone gravel between the cobblestone border that would define our al fresco dining area.  I just love how it looks, and what made it so awesome is how easy and fairly inexpensive this entire project cost to pull off.  After the gravel, the furniture went into position with a big umbrella.  I have always like the look of out side lighting, especially the bistro lights that swing in a casual way from poles or trees.  This set of lights came from Costco and was of the industrial variety.  One strand would span 48 feet which would be plenty to give our little courtyard coverage.
 48 feet of commercial grade lighting from Costco. 
 Wrapping two strands of rope around the outdoor lights gave it a little more of that rustic feel
that I was aiming for.  Then it was time to install the lights, which we did by following an awesome tutorial on another blog, which I will link to at the end of this post.  It was super simple and inexpensive.  In one weeks time we have created this neat little space at the back of the house which has become quite the little gathering spot for our family.  Who knew?!
 At dusk yesterday, with our outdoor lights turned on to usher in the cool of the Memorial Day weekend, some of our kids started showing up and joined me and Mr. Maison Decor in an impromptu gathering under the umbrella. Some nachos and chips and margaritas were served up to christen the new dining spot. All unplanned, and oh so relaxing. 
 It was fun and laid back and it felt like we were all away on vacation somewhere!
Today I had the time to set it up for a holiday afternoon cookout.
 The strands of lights really make it special, and the pea stone makes it feel very European.
Mellow colors of beige, white and lavender are in the garden and used for the table setting.
I tend to go for these softer muted shades, and I scored on finding just the right linens and tableware at HomeGoods.  Bring your indoor pillows outside for any party and take them back in when you have finished.  Its an easy way to get different looks for those alfresco dinner parties.  
This year I bought a white Sunbrella chaise lounge cushion so I could change the mood with the toss of a pillow.  I plan to make some black and white cabana striped pillows next week.  However look how pretty the cotton purple pillow from HomeGoods looks on the chaise.  Playing it up with napkins and place mats in the same color palette makes it all feel like fine dining in a country setting.
Rustic jute place mats with cotton tassels and the woven silverware caddy sitting on a plum colored lettuce leaf plate all work together to add interest by using texture.  Texture is important when you neutrals in decor.  So if you feel your setting is missing something, ask yourself~is there any texture?
 A large cutting of a remaining lilac branch is set in an amethyst glass vessel for the garden centerpiece.  Fresh flowers always make a table feel special.  Don't have to run to the market however, you can just look in your own back yard and cut branches, flowering or not.
 My favorite colors of soft grey, beige and lavender feel right at home outside.
And look at all those textures!
 The next part of the project is installing a set of french doors on the outside of the house.
See that window over there....that is going to become our backdoor. 
A set of French doors and a few granite steps will lead right out here.
 I cannot wait because all I am doing is carrying trays of food and drink from
 the front of the house all the way around the back. 
To read an awesome tutorial on how this couple installed their back yard string lights, click here.  This is exactly what hubs and I did, except we skipped the spray painting step. So if you want the look of bistro lights in your yard, it doesn't get any easier or inexpensive that following this how-to.


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Note: This post is partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their designer board on Pinterest, Happy by Design. Click HERE to see more tips and tricks from HomeGoods designers, like me.

8 comments:

Gee Singh Newbanks said...

Beautiful Amy!! LUV the lights.
We spent the weekend getting our gravel area done as well. We redid the firepit area. circle of gravel now circles it with 2 park benches and a table for a relaxed vibe. Today the benches are getting new slats with a fresh colour .
Cheers. Gee

Kelly said...

That area looks great! I love the string lights. I bet it feels extra cozy at night.

Susan Mathison said...

Wow- Amy! Such an amazing transformation in no time at all! I am loving reading about all of your new projects and ideas now that you don't have the store to tend to : ) I am sure you miss it but love having all of this new available time to have fun decorating and showing off your beautiful home!

Betsy Speert said...

Hey! What room is that window in? Enquiring minds want to know?!?!

The enchanted home said...

So charming...looks like it could be right out of the French countryside:)

Amy Chalmers said...

Its in our dining room Betsy, the room where we sat while working on your blog.

Amy Chalmers said...

Not really missing the store at all I have to say, I am having too much fun doing all of these projects Susan!

arrielle_p said...

Looks so charming and beautiful. You have such a nice place for dining. :)

Arrielle @ High Park

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