Potager Plans and Garden Inspiration

It’s starting to inch closer to Spring here in Portland, OR. And by Spring I mean, it’s March but the weather is still 27° in the mornings and it’s supposed to snow next week, but hey, who cares right? ME. I care! It’s FREEZING and I am over it. I am ready for warm weather and sunshine and sitting in my backyard enjoying the heat. So I’ve begun daydreaming and planning and pinning my backyard renovation. It’s a long ways to completion since demo and rebuilding of the garage is not on the docket until next summer, but I do want to get quite a few other things done out here this year.

As a reminder, this is what my backyard looked like when I moved into Berrybrier. Very little has changed since then, although the chicken coop is now gone and the vines are less developed since I had help whacking them all back in the fall of 2017.

So since the garage isn’t going to be touched, I’m mainly just looking at the right side of the garden and the rear of the garden this year. There’s a lot of things I want to squeeze into this space: a firepit (how could I not?!), cafe lights (the designer in me requires this), a chicken coop (literally a lifetime dream of mine!), and a vegetable garden! And that’s where my brain really starts to take off…

You see, the front yard (which I worked on a bit last summer with mixed results), I envision as this colorful, English country garden full of a chaotic mix of plants and some veggies with a meandering path leading around the house. Some of this will continue around the edges of the backyard as well. It will be full of life and slightly overgrown, a bit like this but more natural chaos. Lush greenery and bursts of color. Yum.

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In the backyard, I want to grow a whole ton of vegetables and this requires a more organized space. So I hoped on Pinterest and got inspired real quick. I want a potager, people. I want a fancy French kitchen garden and I want it to look a little something like this one below. The composed order of these beds just delights me. I know, I know, I am weird, but seriously, this really floats my boat. I can see walking out my backdoor and walking down my backsteps into this little potager full of veggies with a big firepit in the center and cafe lights on either side stringing from the house to the chicken coop at the back of the yard. Sounds dreamy, right?

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I dream of having something very organized and orderly. Yes, I am extremely Type A, how perceptive, of you! I’d love four large garden beds eventually encircling a firepit centered on the back of the house. A bit like this but with the center being a firepit with four big chairs rather than another planter. This shows a more naturalized garden beyond the potager as well, which is exactly what I have in mind!

The stone lined beds above have so much more of a European vibe than a wooden raised bed to me. They’re pretty, but stone gets expensive quick! I love the bricks here below surrounding the in ground vegetable beds. It’s beautiful and romantic and I love the mix of materials. I am leaning towards this over raised beds or stone lined beds, as it’s a bit more flexible if I want to change things up next year when the garage is demoed. Plus, when I bought Berrybrier, there were a ton of old bricks which I’ve moved around my yard aimlessly and they would be perfect for this purpose.

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This potager is entirely charming and I love the little outbuilding here all in white. I plan on painting my chicken coop white to match the house trim paint and if I’m lucky it will look half as cute as that little she-shed! Although I like the look, I won’t be paving the entire space between my garden beds with brick.

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For my garden pathways, I plan to use flat stones and fill the spaces between them with various varieties of thyme and other low growing groundcovers. I recently picked up some quartzite from a family friend and laid that as a path in the front yard, I’ll pick up more of it to really create a path. And then once the plants grow in, it just might look like this.

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This picture below I’ve pinned at least a dozen times. It is utterly charming and what really catches my eye (other than the darling chickens) is the boxwood hedge lining this part of the garden. Am I crazy to want to attempt that too?! I will need to measure my space to see if it makes any sort of sense, but I am very tempted to create a natural fence like this somewhere on the Berrybrier property. I also love how beautiful the vines climbing the outbuilding is, sculptural and lovely in summer and winter.

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The chicken coop would be a simple little structure with a central door and windows with window boxes on either side. On the inside it would be separated into two spaces one for storage (and maybe future Nigerian Dwarf Goats?!) and the other for the chickens.

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In both the front and the back, I want to add lots of evergreen plants so the whole yard isn’t just sticks in the winter. I have a lot of trouble with sticks all winter here in Portland. In California, winter is green and lush and summer is brown and dry. Here winter is grey and dull and the rest of the year is green and lush. It’s not my favorite.

I’ll also find/built some architectural pieces to support some climbing plants. Hopefully this will add to the landscape and create a secret garden feeling. I want the yard to have several meandering plants and some visual barriers that force you to discover different spots as you walk around.

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Another dream for the distant future would be to add an above ground hot tub to the side yard and surround it with greenery and some cafe lights for a dreamy place to relax and soak in the evenings. I desperately love soaking in hot water and not having a bathtub anymore is definitely not going to work for me in the long term. I love the way this tub seems to be part of the landscape! Mine would definitely be above ground, but if I can channel half of these vibes, I’d be ecstatic!

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It will take years for the plants to mature and grow in this manner and I’m not likely to afford such a luxury as a hot tub anytime soon, but in the meantime, I am going to continue dreaming my dream and planning and planning. Oregon is so nice to plants and gardens and the lushness here is barely comprehendible for a California girl like me. Hopefully with a lot of effort and care and good ole rain, I can achieve something like this dream!

What is your garden like? Did you take time to plan it before planting or are you more of a plant as you go type of person? I am completely in the middle, planning the general direction and planting whatever I fall in love with at the nursery!

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Little Bathroom Jungle

When I first moved in, my bathroom (okay, okay, the downstairs bathroom) had great bones, but not much going on. I added a new shower curtain, some storage containers, and a painted gold plant stand.  I wanted the room to be full of life though, and as those of you who know about my addiction have already guessed, I wanted some plants! I wanted a bathroom jungle! I’ve been so inspired by pictures like this and this. I admire their bohemian flair, but mostly the liveliness the plants add to the space. Black and white rooms can so often be stark, but the addition of plants makes them feel much more natural. Since I always hit up the garden section of IKEA,  I had lots of things on hand. I picked up several of my favorite containers and a few plants on one of my last IKEA trips. I brought them home and decided to see what I could do to start my own little bathroom jungle. After all, one of my Oma’s plants was already living on the plant stand in there!

 

Because I bought so many, I stuck four of the small IKEA containers in the kitchen window. Now I need plants for here too!

 

Kitchen Window Plants | Land of Laurel

 

Then I went into the bathroom (the original purpose for the pots!) and stuck four more on the back of the toilet. I had plants for these ones! I instantly loved it. Look at all that life! All that greenery! Think of their ability to regulate indoor air-quality! Sold. Now I wanted even more plants.

 

Mini-Bathroom Jungle | Land of Laurel

 

I had just plopped the plants in their little plastic containers into the pots at this point. They looked pretty great there on the back of the toilet, definitely more exciting than a lot of the things I’ve store on here in the past!

 

Plants in the Bathroom | Land of Laurel

 

While I loved the plants themselves, the white pots on the white toilet was a little blah for me. The look was clean, totally fine for some people, but I wanted more contrast, more excitement. You know me, never one for simple! And since I’ve recently embraced gold on an extreme level, I went for it once again.

 

I painted these guys way back when I worked on the Paint it Pink Challenge. It’s easy to spray paint things all at once. Here they are, upside down, in their original state (I decided to paint two of the kitchen pots too!).

 

Spray Painting All the Pots

 

And, after absolutely no prep and my favorite gold spray paint, they started looking much more fun!

 

Painting IKEA Pots Gold | Land of Laurel

 

The plants were still dashing even in their plastic containers! I’m no gardner, so I can’t tell you their exact types, but I chose them because they were all different. The long spider plant on the far right with it’s droopy leaves was perfectly different from the tall round leaved plant on the far left. I made sure it mix it up when I picked these guys out.

 

Picking Plants | Land of Laurel

 

I added gravel to the bottom of the newly golden containers for drainage. Because bathrooms are so moist, I wanted be sure the plant roots would never be soaking.

 

Gravel as Drainage | Land of Laurel

 

Then I just pulled the plants from their plastic containers and plopped them into the pots. Simple, easy, quick.

 

Plants Potted Gold | Land of Laurel

 

I brought them back into the bathroom and put them on the toilet. But four gold pots suddenly looked too stuffed on top of the toilet. So I ended up just using three there and stuck the Spider on the window ledge. Then I faced another problem. While I liked the gold on the toilet top, the gold blended into the window ledge too much for me. Plus, I didn’t like the look of the single plant up there. It looked lonely!

 

Three Pots | Land of Laurel

 

That’s how I ended up repotting the white stripey spider plant, stealing  the white pots I planned on using in the kitchen, and propagating one of the spider plant offshoots from my grandmother’s spider plant.  There. That’s much more balanced looking, don’t you think? I got that little candle from my cousin over the holidays and it made friends with the spider plants, so I think he’s going to live there now too.

 

Repotted Spider Plant | Land of Laurel

 

It’s difficult to photograph the plants on the toilet and the plants on the window sill together because of the crazy light that pours in the window, but below is my best attempt. At least you can see that it’s an improvement from no plants, right?

 

Plants in the Bathroom | Land of Laurel

 

Here is where the bathroom started, no plants, no love. Now, at least it’s starting to get somewhere, cat box and all.

 

Move in Bathroom

 

A bit grainy from the crazy lighting, but moving slowly in the direction of bathroom jungle… One step at a time, people, one step at a time. Now I just need more plants. Or help with my addiction. Is there a twelve step program for plant addictions? I should enroll…

 

Happy Bathroom Plants | Land of Laurel

 

So here I am, making strides in my bathroom jungle. Up next? Plants for the vanity counter! Plants hanging from the ceiling! Plants growing in the bathtub! Just kidding, I need the bathtub to shower… 🙂 These guys here are still alive, but I managed to kill the happy Paint it Pink plant… overwatering? Sad Laurel.What do you think of plants in the bathroom? Do you have any in your bathrooms? Or do you have a black thumb?

Livin’ It Up In the Living Room

Happy Holidays everyone! Hope you all had a lovely end of December and are looking forward to Thursday’s New Year’s Eve! I had an absolutely lovely Christmas this year. I spent Christmas Eve with my mother’s side and Christmas Day with my father’s side of the family. I truly couldn’t have enjoyed the holidays more than I did. Everything went pretty much perfectly! Hope everyone else was as pleased as I am! And if not, just drown yourself in eggnog and cookies to destress! That’s what the holiday’s are for anyways right? In celebration of the upcoming New Year, I thought I’d share some pictures of the living areas! Today I’m focusing on the befores and the challenges of the living-dining area; I’ll share the kitchen soon I promise!

 

We have a home with an open floor plan so the living room, dining room, and kitchen are all integrated into one L-shaped space. The kitchen is tucked into the shorter part of the L which designates it’s zone as more independent than other open floor plans might. I really like that when I’m in the kitchen there aren’t a ton of people circulating through the space. There are definite challenges to an open floor plan, but the longer I live here, the more I really enjoy it. Yes, when I have a party everyone is everywhere and I can’t hide a single mess (unless it fits into my closet!), but this means if I’m cooking or coordinating with stuff in the oven, I’m not completely isolated from my friends! In fact, today so many more people tend to gather in kitchens. The kitchen is the parlor of today. Everyone hangs out in the kitchen. They’re the new multi-purpose room! If your kitchen is more closed off from the living and dining spaces you can make a complete mess and no one will notice, but you also tend to not be able to socialize while you cook. There are positives and negatives to both for sure.

 

In our house the whole living/dining/kitchen space is a nice white color that is pretty perfect. It’s definitely not a cool white, but it’s not a yellow-y cream either. Our landlords should probably be professional paint color pickers. They always pick the cream of the crop (so pun-y!)! I walked into our house for the first time and didn’t want to paint a single room, which is pretty crazy considering how much I LOVE to paint. Seriously not kidding either. I love painting. I put on some good music and rock out. I get my clothing pretty covered in paint, but I am an expert at painting without using a drop cloth or anything. It’s a handy talent I put to use by basically forcing good friends to let me paint their interiors for them in exchange for tea and pizza. It’s a pretty good trade if you ask me! But anyways, the main areas of our home are white! Now, let’s get to more details, shall we?

 

First, you enter our home through the front door. Look at that gorgeous door! I love that I can see who’s outside without opening the whole thing. It’s such a hunk of a door too. That’s the kind of door all the lady doors inside want to have door babies with. They’re all standing in the hall gossiping about our hottie front door like, “Hey, come in here often?” But the front door isn’t so open to a relationship with all these interior doors. They’re just a bit hard to lock down, you know? I mean literally, though, very few of our interior doors have locks… Maybe I should apologize for subjecting you all to my brain just there. My brain thinks the doors are hitting on each other. It makes total sense in my head, I swear!

 

Wow, I am distracted. Who cares about the scandalous and secret lives of the doors when there are windows?! Next to the front door is a little window. Why? I have no idea, but it does let in a little more light! I’d love to stick a little table for keys, mail, shoes, and purses underneath that window. Right now all that gets dumped on the island. Which means it’s hard to find somewhere to prep food and eat. Minor tasks! Because all of our furniture is ridiculously large, it would need to be the perfect size table, probably custom. Luckily, for Christmas, I got a nice chop saw! So maybe I’ll work on this in the new year. It would be a fun little project and I can already imagine what it would look like… #dreamer

 

Front Door | Land of Laurel

 

Next to the front door is the living area. We’ve squeezed an oversize couch, lounge chair, and love seat into the space. It’s crazy town, but it’s the furniture the three of us had! Most of it isn’t mine, but the large black loveseat does belong to me. It’s a hand-me-down from my Aunt Chrisy who used to keep it in her downstairs television room. Unfortunately the couch is a faux leather that is starting to disintegrate for some reason! Maybe the direct sunlight from these south facing windows is too much for it? Regardless, the loveseat needs some help.

 

This corner of the room is also in desperate need of some art! I have a ton of things I want to frame and last time I was at IKEA I picked up a few of their Ribba frames on sale. So hopefully I’ll get on this soon! Other than that, this area is pretty dang bland looking. It needs some flair, some fun, some cute throw pillows! Right now the pillows are just a chaotic mess of what we three already had and it makes me want to karate chop something. Like a pillow.

 

You can see Malary also has a favorite perch in this room too! She is there in the window literally every. single. time. I get home. It’s pretty adorable. I think it’s perfect for sunbathing during the day. This room gets a crazy amount of light! It’s so wonderful. During the morning the whole space glows and in the afternoon the light just pours in through the windows. It makes you want to curl up in the sun and take a nap. Or go outside and explore. It’s so lovely. Because we have a tall fence , the windows are very private too. You can’t see into the living room from the street or our neighbors’ houses. So, when the boys are gone,  I can dance around in my underwear as much as I want. Which is always. #priorities

 

Living Room Before | Land of Laurel

 

This particular pillow was a gift from one of the manufacturers I use frequently at work — HBF– after I interfaced with them about their new website design. It’s really cute, but the colors do not work for me and my home. Dreaming about how I can switch it up somehow. I wonder if using fabric dye would work…? The light gray color has to dye more quickly than the orange, right? Literally any other color would work. I think this would be the perfect winter project! It’s a contract fabric though, so it might dye weird. Still, worth a try, don’t you think?

 

HBF Pillow | Land of Laurel

 

On the sofa we have three black and white pillows that belong to my roommate. They are kind of old. I’m thinking about donating them back to his room. The black leatherette ones that came with the loveseat are always slipping down on it, so I think I may stick them here on the sofa and try to pair them with some other new ones with more pops of color. Green or rust would work well in the space! I also am totally obsessed with the fuzzy sheep skin ones at IKEA. The last pillow on the sofa is one I bought when I was traveling in Turkey in 2013. I actually bought it for and gifted it to my Oma and then inherited it when she passed away. I have a similar blue and white one somewhere, but it needs a fill. Also, I’m not sure it would work in the space… I may donate it to my parent’s newly renovated family room.

 

Here you can also see the dining area tucked ducked in the back of the room behind the loveseat. It barely fits. It’s kind of an awkward squeeze, but honestly, we almost never use the table! We all eat at the island. I use it to type at occasionally and for dinners when I have people over, but it’s definitely not used each day.

 

Living Room Pillows | Land of Laurel

 

The fact that all our furniture is oversized and we still managed to squeeze it into the room without it looking too ridiculous is a amazing feat. Where is Ripley’s Believe It or Not? They need to put this in their next book. Because I am astounded! We have two bookcases, one oversized sofa, one oversized loveseat, one oversized lounge chair, two 30″ square side tables, a 30″x 48″ coffee table, a full dining room table, and six dining room chairs. I mean, the arms of the living room furniture are all overlapping, but still! Isn’t that crazy?!

 

It definitely seems a tad stuffed in here, but it’s not too bad. There is plenty of room when we have lots of people over! On Christmas Eve my sister, Uncle Scott, and five out of six cousins on my mother’s side came over! It was easy to have us all in the living room around the coffee table. We played some board games, because we’re hella cool like that. And yes, I am from NorCal! And yes, I reserve the right to say hella!

 

Living Spaces | Land of Laurel

 

Our dining area functions as an extension of my library as well… Sorry boys! One of the bookcases is mine and is stuffed to the brim with my books. There is a huge assortment of genres, but I did reserve the top shelf for all of our cookbooks. The other bookcase is filled with my plants, but I actually don’t know which of the boys owns it. It was mostly empty when I moved in. The bookshelves could both use a little extra styling, but they’re not bad. The one on the left in the picture below needs to be tweaked a bit, but the one beneath the TV has color-blocked books which actually looks pretty nice. I want to switch the places of the bookcases, but I’d have to move the TV first. Not that that’s an issue. I really, really, really want to move that TV. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the house and I hate that!! Who wants to walk into someone’s house and see a huge black box first thing? NO ONE. The TV really should go on the wall opposite. It makes zero sense to have it hovering over the dining room table. I am trying to a) convince the boys of this, b) summon the stamina to move the TV myself, and c) artfully patch and paint the holes it leaves behind. So much for something simple, right? Plus hanging TVs can be dreadfully annoying!

 

The Dining Area Before | Land of Laurel

 

Just to the right of the dining room table, next to our full-height, kitchen pantry cabinet, I have a stool with a plant on it. I may have a plant problem, but shut up, who cares? I love them! This stool is very special to me though. For most of my life, it sat in my Oma’s kitchen just to the left of the double swing door that led into her dining room. I used to sit on this chair while she cooked dinner. Or perch on it to help her bake. I remember her sitting on the stool while teaching me how to beat spätzle batter. It’s a memory of her, this little stool. It’s not particularly nice looking or valuable. In fact, it’s kind of broken. I don’t care at all. I love this stool. It reminds me of my Oma and her kitchen and all the warmth and love she provided in my life.

 

On top of the stool I have a plant in a basket planter from IKEA. This spider plant is one happy girl. It loves having this much room. It’s growing like CrAzY! This plant is also something from my Oma’s house. It used to sit in a much smaller pot hanging in her kitchen window, above her sink. I became obsessed with spider plants when I was little because of this plant. I just love the idea that the regenerate themselves and make a bunch of other little spider plants. I love baby spider plants! They’re adorable. You can see this guy has a whole bunch of them, ready to be plucked off and planted!

 

Kitchen Chair | Land of Laurel

 

 

That’s the living spaces! Function has beat out form and style here, but hopefully with a few tweaks, we’ll get the space looking a bit better. And then with a few more furniture changes and TV moves this space will look pretty dang great! With bones like these, this house can’t really look bad anyways. It’s magical what some architectural details can do, right?

 

What do I have planned for this space? See below. 🙂

 

Living Room To Do List:

  • Get rid of all our furniture and buy all new adorable furnishings. Hahhaha, yeah, right! A girl can dream though…
  • Make/find a small mail/keys table for next to the front door.
  • Cover the black loveseat to hide disintegrating faux leather.
  • Get a handle on all the throws and blankets lying around.
  • Frame and hang art.
  • Dye HBF pillow a fun color? I did find some green fabric dye in my art supplies the other day…
  • Buy new, fun pillows!
  • Return black and white pillows to their owner’s bedroom.
  • Move TV to opposite wall. Will need to coordinate with the boys on this one… I’ll need another set of hands at least!
  • Switch places of bookshelves.
  • Style bookshelves.
  • Do something with the glass coffee and side tables so they look like they belong in here and less like outdoor furniture. I have something cool I picked up on the side of the road for this!

 

So much to do, but I love a good list! What’s your living room like? Pristine and styled? In need of major work? Ready for a few tweaks, but really pretty good? Let me know if you have any ideas for my space!