We were on Spring break last week, and one of the big things on my to-do list was replanting the urns on our front porch. I love lush, colorful container gardens flanking a front door, and ours have been in serious need of a Spring makeover. It’s still a little early here for container gardens, but the warm weather all through March gives me hope that our new, beautiful plants will live a long and happy life.
For my last Style Spotters post, I rounded up a dozen gorgeous pictures of urns, planters, and window boxes filled with cascading blooms and vibrant color, so when I headed off to the local nursery last week, I knew what I was looking for. I’m not always good at improvising, but I’m great at following a recipe. As luck would have it, there’s a tried and true recipe for creating knock-your-socks-off planters and containers for your front porch, and it can be summed up in three little words: thrill, fill, and spill.
First, we start with the “thrill.” That’s the tall plant in the middle of the planter. If you look at those inspiration photos from my last post, you’ll notice the thrill in most of them. Sometimes it’s a little tree, sometimes a tall flowering plant, sometimes a shrub. They key is that it is tall and gives the planter a focal point. I spotted some cute Lemon Cypress at the nursery that would be perfect for the thrill in a planter. They didn’t happen to work with my color scheme, but it was hard to walk away from them! For my urns, I chose a perennial Feather Reed Grass. I’m now wondering if that was a good idea long-term because grasses don’t look great all year. They turn yellow and have to be cut back in the winter, so maybe an evergreen would have been a better idea. Time will tell! I certainly think they look great for now.
We’re going to skip the middle section (the “fill”) for a second and talk about the “spill.” The spill is my favorite part of any good planter: the vines and cascading bits that tumble down the sides and look romantic, lush, and dreamy. They go on the outermost edge of the planter and spill over the sides and down toward the ground. Creeping Jenny and Sweet Potato Vine are two show-stopping spills…which I didn’t end up getting. Creeping Jenny needs some shade (our porch faces South, so that’s a no-go), and it’s too early in the season for Sweet Potato Vines. But I found some really lovely twiners that I’m excited about. Thunbergia is a beautiful vine with long tendrils. I’ve used it before in planters in our old backyard and loved its look. I picked out some deep orange ones and can’t wait to see them blossom! I also used magenta Bacopa, which is a little bushier than Thunbergia. I really like to use lots of different textures to make the containers interesting. Variety is the spice of life, folks!
Now we can go back to the “fill.” The fill is basically all of the stuff between the thrill and the spill. This is the spot for your usual annuals–the things you plant for seasonal color in your garden borders. Geraniums, violets, pansies, etc. Nothing too tall, and nothing viney. I went with Coleus for color and Alyssum for fragrance. The Coleus I chose has beautiful texture, and chartreuse leaves with deep purple veining. It’s really amazing and gives the planters some variety. The Alyssum is also deep purple and should fill in all of the nooks and crannies of the urns quite nicely.
So now you know the secret to beautiful container gardens: thrill, fill, and spill. Go forth and garden! I’m so excited to have these newly-beautified containers flanking my door, and can’t wait to see how they fill in throughout the Spring and Summer!
I know it’s not warm and sunny everywhere right now, but in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had quite a stretch of beautiful Spring weather lately. It’s been a very welcome departure from our usual cold, Winter drizzle. The sunshine and balmy weather are inspiring thoughts of gardens and flowers, and there’s no better or quicker way to welcome Spring to your house than with lush containers overflowing with greenery and gorgeous flowers on your front porch. I bought some black fiberglass urns filled with fall foliage the week we moved into the Dream House. One of them still looks great, but the other has been completely taken over by midnight purple coral bells, and it looks like something straight out of the Haunted Mansion line at Disneyland! I think it’s high time they both had a Spring-worthy makeover. Here are some container garden looks I’m loving (click on the link beneath each photo for details)…
photo from Pocket Full of Posies Design
photo from Serendipity Refined
photo from One Hundred Dollars a Month
photo from Pocket Full of Posies Design
photo from Tundra Monkey Gardening
photo from Kasey’s Korner
photo from Dirt Simple–Technically, these are window boxes, not urns on a front porch. But WOW!
photo from Dirt Simple
photo from Dirt Simple
photo from Dirt Simple–This website is a goldmine!! Truly, such beautiful designs.
photo from Power Flowers
photo from BHG.com–BHG has lots of great container garden ideas, and they’re all labeled! Each photo tells you exactly what plants you need, so there’s no guesswork.
Something exciting is happening in the basement of the Dream House! We have a friend who is a construction genius, and he’s been finishing our basement for us over the past few months! We’re currently in the drywall stage, and when we’re done taping, texturing, and painting the walls, we’ll leave most of the rooms alone for a while–except for my studio! I wasn’t planning on having my studio finished for a long time. I wasn’t even really planning on having it finished this year; I was resigned to working out of a somewhat dusty room with a few spiderwebs here and there and a space heater for the cold, Winter months. But it looks like I’ll have my very own creative space by Spring, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In our old house, my office consisted of our old kitchen table shoved into the corner of our computer room. I outgrew that corner really quickly and started doing projects on our dining room table, which made it hard to use the table for eating or entertaining. I’m so excited at the prospect of having my own space where I can leave works-in-progress out on the counter without having to worry about buttons being swallowed by babies or little hands touching wet paint, where I can actually set up photo shoots and store props (like my enormous collection of cake plates) without being in anyone’s way. I was stumped for a while about which direction I wanted to go in with the decor and layout, but here’s where I’m at right now:
- When your room is a blank canvas, it’s really hard to get started. I love looking at pictures online of creative spaces, but nothing jumped out as exactly what I wanted. I’m great at following specific directions, but I’m not always good at winging it or coming up with new home decor ideas on my own. When I saw this beautiful hardware at Anthropologie last month, it gave me a great starting point. Now I have a clear vision and can run with it! (Shelf brackets, knobs, and hooks from Anthropologie)
- I have a little wall in my studio that is sort of awkward. It’s basically a little pop-out that’s a few feet wide and goes floor to ceiling. Since the wall is at two different depths, I didn’t want to push a table or desk against it because I thought that would look weird. So I’m going to make it my gallery wall! I’ve had my eye on this print by Yao Cheng on Minted for months, and I think it’ll go so well with everything else in the studio. (Yao Cheng print from Minted)
- That fiddle leaf fig I said I was looking for in my last post? Well, I found it last week! It’s quite at home in a basket in our entryway, but now I’m a bit obsessed with them and want to buy another to go in my studio. (Fig photo via houzz.com)
- When you’re building a custom home, the number of decisions you have to make is just staggering. Seriously, you have to choose e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Where the light switches go and how they’ll work; how many power outlets in each room and where; what kinds of light fixtures here, there, and everywhere. And because you haven’t lived in the house yet, you’re really just guessing. When we were deciding on lighting in the basement, which was sooooo long ago, I really didn’t want to think too much about it, so I said, “Let’s just put in a bunch of can lights.” And that’s what we did. And the studio is plenty bright, but now all I have is can lighting instead of a cute ceiling-mounted fixture or sconces or anything decorative. Luckily, Schoolhouse Electric makes these darling little tabletop lamps, so I’ll have at least one cute light in my room. (ion C series light from Schoolhouse Electric)
- I’m all for really utilitarian office chairs on wheels, but I’d rather have this cute little white desk chair. After spotting it at World Market in January, I’ve seen it all over the internet. I’d better hurry and buy mine before their gone! I have a habit of procrastinating until it’s too late! (chair from World Market)
- I had some really cute floor tile all picked out for the studio for months. It was basically the only thing I knew I wanted in the room. And then our contractor friend asked me how much it was so he include it on his bid, and I bothered (for the first) time to check the price. And it was ridiculously expensive! Instead of cute (insanely pricey) floor tile, we’re going with a vinyl flooring that looks like wood. It’s the same thing we put in our mudroom and the kids’ bathrooms. It looks nice and is a breeze to clean. And now I get to cover it up with a darling rug, and I’m in love with this one. I think a great rug ties a whole room together, and this one couldn’t be better for my studio. (rug from Overstock.com)
I can’t wait to have this room finished, to get to create in it, and to show it to you!
Despite the fact that I can’t keep them alive, I love house plants. Green is one of my favorite colors, and I love the subtle pop of freshness plants add to the nooks and corners of my home. Since moving into the Dream House, I’ve been on a bit of an obsessive search for the perfect house plants. I’ve got lots of small ones (they’re all still alive!), but I’m currently focused on finding a big, beautiful plant to go in the corner of our entry way. I have the perfect basket for it, now I just need the plant! I asked some friends on Instagram the other day for their best recommendations. Here are a few of their fantastic suggestions…
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) | This is my number one choice. I know they were the hot house plant a couple of years ago and are now experiencing a little backlash, but do beautiful things ever really go out of style? I think not. If I can find one, a fiddle leaf fig is at the top of my list! (photo from Kathryn Ivey Interiors via houzz.com)
Snake Plant, aka Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) | I actually have two medium-sized snake plants on my mantel, but they can grow quite tall and are super hardy, which is perfect for black thumbs like me. (photo from Design Sponge)
Rubber Tree Plant (Ficus elastica) | From everything I’ve heard and read, rubber tree plants are super hardy and really tolerant of us humans. They can grow insanely big and live for years and years. (photo from Design Crisis)
Weeping Fig/Ficus (Ficus benjamina) | Good old ficus trees are always a nice choice for spaces that can accommodate a large house plant. Someone on Instagram who suggested them said, “I love ficus trees because they sing in a breeze and recover when I forget to water them.” (photo from Kristina Wolf Design via houzz.com)
Umbrella Tree (Schefflera) | Umbrella trees have pretty, whorled leaf clusters and multiple trunks, and although they’re an invasive species outdoors, they make for a pretty, easy-care house plant. (photo from Javado Plant via Gardenista)
Money Tree (Pachira aquatica) | Money trees are super pretty! I love the braided trunks and fat, glossy leaves. If I can’t find a fiddle leaf fig, I might just settle for a money tree. (photo from Hi Sugarplum!)
Dracaena | Dracaenas come in all shapes and sizes. There are lots of different varieties–striped leaves, speckled leaves, tall, short–and they do a really good job of cleaning the air in your house. Bonus! (photo from Modern Findings)
Do you have any other plants to add to our list of big, beautiful house plants? I’d love to hear if you have a favorite!
When my husband and I decided to finish the basement playroom in time for Christmas morning, we discovered that we had completely different visions for the playroom. I wanted a wall of cubbies (a place for everything, and everything in its place!) and a cute art table, and he wanted monkey bars and a kid-sized climbing wall! The room ended up being a beautiful compromise–I got my cubbies and he got his climbing wall. You can find great inspiration all over the internet for cool DIY climbing walls.
via Oh So Savvy Mom (this site has great, detailed instructions on how to make your own climbing wall)
via Finch Found
My husband put ours together in a single afternoon in a little over two hours. Some of the materials (3/4″ plywood, a couple of 2×4′s, and the bolts that anchor it to the wall) came from the hardware store, and all of the climbing holds came from Atomik Climbing Holds and included all of the mounting hardware. These aren’t directions by any means, but the steps are pretty simple.
Mark and drill your holes on the plywood…
Pound in the t-nuts from the back…
Screw some 2×4′s into the studs with 6″ lag bolts…
Screw the plywood into the 2×4′s with 2 1/2″ lag bolts, and attach the climbing holds!
The kids started scrambling up and down the wall before my husband was even finished bolting on the holds. They really love it, and it adds a fun pop of color to one end of the playroom.
Finding the perfect rug for a space is hard work, folks. It has to be the right size, the right price, the right color, and the right texture, not to mention easy to track down and buy. We went with fairly neutral walls and flooring for our playroom, which meant that we could bring in lots of fun color using a bright area rug. Need a little inspiration? Check out the colorful rugs in these rooms…
Scouring the internet for a place to buy that darling rug you spotted on someone’s blog post can take lots of time. So I’ve done some of the hard work for you! Here are a few of my favorite colorful playroom rugs and the links to where you can buy them.
the affordable workhorse: Off-Set Chevron Multi Rug by Mohawk from Overstock.com, $135.99 for 5×8′
This is the rug we ended up buying for our playroom because it is colorful (the colors are much prettier in person than they look in the pictures), soft, cleans up easily, and is ridiculously inexpensive. We paid less than $190 for the 8×10′!
the classy floral: Threshold Floral Wool Area Rug from Target.com, $179.99 for 5×7′
Target has lots of pretty, colorful rugs in their stores. If you need something larger than 5×7′, you can find options online as well.
the pretty polka dots: Candy Dot Rug from Land of Nod, $399 for 5×8′
This one is a bit of a splurge, but it is beautiful, well-made, and a nice mix of colorful and understated.
the grown-up stripes: Momeni Delhi Red from BuyAreaRugs.com, $349 for 5×8′
I love this rug! It’s bright and colorful, but would look great in a grown-up space too.
the rainbow chevron: Momeni Delhi Multi Rug from Wayfair.com, $349.99 for 5×8′
In love with chevron? This is the colorful playroom rug for you! The rich, beautiful colors make it classy and fun at the same time.
the cool hopscotch: CB2 Hopscotch Rug, $199 for 4×6′
The only decidedly un-colorful rug on the list, it is just too cute to pass up! Slightly smaller than the other rugs on the list, but less expensive than most of them as well.