OAL Team Outdoor Spaces: Julie

Happy Summer!  The weather in the Pacific NW has been absolutely beautiful for the past month.  I love summer and I love spending time outside so my outdoor spaces are really just an extension of my indoor spaces…simple, welcoming and low maintenance!  Oh and I almost forgot, low cost as well.

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My bright orange chairs are a fun addition to my 20 year old white bench and an easy change when I’m tired of them  ($17 at Lowe’s).  I also am also in love with my hanging basket, a Mother’s Day gift from my youngest son.

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My outdoor wicker is an older set from Costco.  I love the neutral color and it’s easy to change pillows, wall art or add an outdoor rug when I need a new look.

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I love color and I always keep a few perennials in my pots so that I don’t have to replant each year.  My asters have come back now for 2 years! A $25 planter from Lowe’s is a great addition next to my perennial pot. I also added a small coral lantern that I picked up on sale for $7.00.

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As always, the team at OAL is happy to help your create your own special outdoor spaces. We love what we do and creating cheerful, low cost, low maintenance inviting spaces is our specialty!  Step out and soak up some sunshine today!

OAL Team Outdoors Spaces: Sasha

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Welcome to my outdoor space!

Over here, I am all about keeping my kids close, and keeping their friends close as well! With a twelve and fourteen year old, our yard needs have changed over the past few years, and we’ve tried to adapt our outdoor spaces to those changing needs. Gone is the play yard structure, and in it’s place, we have a 15 foot enclosed trampoline. (Sadly it killed the grass in the main part of our yard, but it brings in kids from every part of our neighborhood and keeps them entertained for hours on end, so it is worth it.)

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We also added what we call the Party Pit to a backyard corner that never got used much when our kids were little. It’s hidden behind one side of our house, but it’s the perfect spot for catching the last rays of the sun in the evenings and feels like a hideaway of sorts. We put two creamy-painted picnic tables back there for entertaining friends, a potting bench my guys made that doubles as a buffet, a fire pit surrounded with Adirondack chairs for marshmallow toasting and late night chats, and six garden boxes ring the outside edges. Over the top of all, we strung cafe lighting which creates a festive mood.

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Our family doesn’t love doing yard work, but I enjoy gardening and especially growing flowers to bring inside and enjoy all summer long. We made an herb garden box, a salad garden box, one for veggies and three cutting garden boxes. We have an out of control Wisteria vine growing up the side, and we have plans for a small arbor as you enter into the party pit

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We have a lot of places to land in this yard, which is perfect when there are a lot of middle schoolers around. We have a hammock, an umbrella topped bistro table, a bench with cushions, and some lounging chairs in various corners. On the other side of our house, we have a long narrow strip of grass that gets used as our ball throwing area. Each night, as the BBQ is going, my people play catch or shoot nerf guns in this area. I even created a painted plywood target for them and hung it on the inside of the gate.

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I love lavender plants, hostas, boxwood, peonies, lilacs and hydrangeas and you’ll see them scattered throughout the front and back yard beds.

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 Perhaps my favorite corner of our outdoor space, is our front porch. I spend a lot of my summer out here. It’s a perfect place to sit in the afternoon shade, sip iced tea, and keep an eye on kids bike riding or roller blading, etc. (I showed a before and after of these these chairs here, in this post. One problem with having homes so close to one another, is a lack of privacy. Earlier this past spring, I hung a trellis on the side of the front porch and planted a climbing clematis. It doesn’t exactly solve the no-privacy issue, but it does help it to feel a little more private and it wasn’t an expensive fix!

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When we moved into this home twelve years ago, it was a new construction, spec home with very basic landscaping and no grass. Every year we have add a little more to the landscaping as the budget allows and over time it has begun to take shape. Our exterior color is gray and I’ve kept an overall yardscape color of greens, blues, lavenders, and whites that compliment the house color.

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It is so easy to get bogged down with all the ideas we want to do, and the budget for the things we actually can do…. Every project I’ve ever tackled, has been on a budget, using what I had on hand, or adapting what I could get my hands on or make, and now everything in our space tells a story, albeit an imperfect story. So yeah, the umbrella might be broken and have to be opened a certain way, and the borders might not be perfectly edged, or the grass under the trampoline might have turned to dirt, or there might be an empty flower bed all year long waiting for budget freedom to get filled… but the nice thing is this; It doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfect for you. Life isn’t a Pinterest board, it’s a work in progress. It’s otter pop wrappers on that just oiled butcher block table top. It’s watermelon rinds thrown into the grass. It’s a slightly deflated exercise ball on the trampoline and kids fighting at the top of their lungs over who’s turn it is. Or at least it was for me yesterday. And it was pretty perfect just the way it was. Thanks for stopping by!

OAL Team Outdoor Spaces: Becca

Welcome friends! I’m excited to share my outdoor space with you. I went with an Americana feel with red, white and blue. My front porch is very small and on a busy street. I tried to keep it simple, but still inviting.

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I recently built this shelf after seeing something similar in a magazine. It fits the space perfectly. I updated our rusty mailbox with spray paint. All my plants are perennials which eliminates spending money year after year on annuals. I love to garden and it’s a fun way to add color and texture.

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We recently tore off a rotting deck on the backside of our house. It really opened it up and we were able to create a space with a dining area and a fire pit. My husband built the wooden sectional, dining table and benches, and the pallet buffet. All of it was less expensive than store bought sets and will last a very long time!

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Get outside this summer! Lawn games are a great way to enjoy the outdoors. This is a fun set from my in-laws.

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I love having a few entertaining supplies on hand (these are from Grandiflora Home & Garden). I also re-use berry boxes – they’re great inexpensive organizers!

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I made this fountain last year with rock from our property, a bucket from a client and a gazing ball from Fred Meyer. Inexpensive and the sound is so soothing.

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My pillows are from Costco and Pier1. Make sure to buy ones that have weather resistant fabric and store them properly once the season is over.

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I think trays are an essential multi-use item for any outdoor space.  This enamel one contains some of our BBQ supplies.

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Outdoor entertaining doesn’t have to be fancy. Throw something on the BBQ, brew a jug of sun tea and purchase a pie at a local bakery.

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Isn’t this cake topper adorable?? (Again, found at Grandiflora).

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Good night and enjoy the warm summer evenings!

OAL Team Outdoor Spaces Series


We’re excited to announce a new blog series starting this week titled OAL Team Outdoor Spaces. Each week one team members space will be featured. We have the perfect variety of outdoor spaces from sprawling decks to party pits. We will take you on a quick tour and give you a glimpse of how each of us lives and loves our outdoor spaces in the summertime. We hope this series will inspire you to create an outdoor living area, no matter the size!


OAL Home Tour: Julie

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Welcome to The Clarke family home.  A place not of perfection, but a place where family and guests feel welcomed and cared for.  Our 3,500 sq. ft. home was built around 1975 and continues to evolve over time.  Most recently, we updated our oak trim and doors with a fresh white!

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 I believe that our homes should be our sanctuaries, that great design need not be expensive and most importantly that a home should function well for the family who lives in it. Organization matters!

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A great kitchen is one that allows it’s occupants to complete multiple tasks, entertain favorites and is organized in such a way that it is a joy to cook in!  Decor should be simple and beautiful.  For example, this picture shows my favorite nesting mugs in fun, bright colors and my gurgle pot (a gift from my son and daughter-in-law) filled with a branch from a tree in my front yard.

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Another favorite in my kitchen is my couch (yep, a couch) in my kitchen!  Probably the best decor decision I have made in my home!  Who doesn’t love hanging out in the kitchen??

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Many people talk of having the type of home where they can entertain and enjoy having people over but all too often it never happens.  Life is just too busy and preparing for company is just too complicated.  I love to entertain and always keep my home ready, so that in a moment I can transform my table from 4 to 10 and set a simple table for guests.  It’s never fancy, but I try to be prepared in the way I set up and organize each space in my home.  I also cook really simple meals.

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The key to a great living space is making sure that it suits those who live in it.  Arrange the space for great conversation (hire help if you’re not sure how to do this) and always keep clutter to a minimum.  Even if you have small children keep toys and games limited especially in common spaces.

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I  believe that the art on our walls should be a reflection of what we love most.  It should make us happy!   Keep it simple, clutter free and hang at the proper height (about 60 in. from the floor to the center of your art).  Viewing art from a seated position should feel comfortable.  Family pictures are best kept in hallways and stairwells.  I can hardly call the pictures of my boys from K-12th grade art, but I love looking at these sweet faces everyday as I cruise down my hallway!

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I like to see what I own and for that reason I like storage that is open.  I know many of you would not like this in your homes but for me it works well.  I can see what I have and I think it’s easier to keep everything tidy when storage is visible.  I had bi-fold doors removed from both of my bathroom closets and I removed closet doors from my guest room closets.

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My house has multiple extra rooms now that my sons are all grown.  Their old rooms now serve as guest rooms; simple and clutter free.  I keep guest closets empty and only store one set of extra sheets per bed (these are stored in each bedroom so that changing sheets is simple).

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I also use a repurposed bookshelf to store towels and misc. items in my master bathroom.  It’s easy to keep tidy and well stocked since I see it all the time.  Oh and I really love Costco white towels!

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A mini desk area graces the corner of my master bedroom and provides a place to sit and jot a quick note or make a call.

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A homemade photo board hangs on the wall in family room.  I love that the pictures are easy to change and fun to look at.  I’ve learned that pictures in photo albums, bins or boxes are really never appreciated…get them out and enjoy them!

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We all hope that you have enjoyed our OAL staff home tour series.  We have loved sharing our decor/design ideas with you and we trust that you have gleaned some very practical and inexpensive ideas from this series.  We work hard to help our clients learn to love the homes they have and use the items that they love.  We would love to help you do that as well.
We welcome your feedback so let us know if you have thoughts or questions for us.
Stay tuned for our next series filled with front porch ideas!

OAL Home Tour: Sasha

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There’s a running joke in my home among my family, that each time I bring in a new furniture piece, “everything eventually gets painted white.”  That’s probably not far from the truth.  As a mother of two rapidly growing teen/tweens I find myself keeping a rather neutral and clean palette overall which keeps the mood calm. (And every mother of hormonal children will understand why this matters.)  I stick to mostly blues, greens and grays in my decor choices, and they run throughout the house in one form or another, which makes this small space feel bigger than it’s 3 bed, 2 bath, 1500 sq footage.
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We purchased this home twelve years ago and everything in it was builder grade.  Honey oak trim and cabinets, brass fixtures, ugly lighting and cheap carpeting and lino. The best part, was that we could afford this home, even though it wasn’t everything I would have chosen, cosmetically.  Little by little we began transforming this into a comfortable, almost farmhouse-like feeling home, all on a budget and with a lot of sweat equity.
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I love things with stories, but I also like classic choices which is why white works so well for me.  You never get tired of white and it always feels fresh.  It took me an entire summer to sand, prime and paint the trim in this house but it made a huge difference and didn’t break the budget.  The summer before that, I worked on the kitchen cabinets, installing slabs of bead board that we cut ourselves for the sides and wrapping it around our island and down our hallway, along with corbels and hardware. In my world nothing is off limits to the power of paint.  Especially white paint.
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The thing I love most about this house is it’s adaptability.  It worked really well for us with babies and toddlers with a nice fenced yard, but a few of the areas in this house were fairly useless as the kids grew, until we rethought the spaces.  For example, we had a somewhat useless room in the front of the house that felt enough out of the way that the kids never played in it, and we never watched tv in it either.  So, we created a guest bedroom room/family office by adding french doors, a bed and our computer desk.  Now it’s used daily and a very appreciated retreat for our guests!
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 The other space we have come to love was a little nook off the master bedroom (not shown here).  In years past, my husband had a desk there because he worked from home a lot.  Once he changed jobs I took it over as a sort of art studio. As our children grew into tall loungers who wanted to hang out with friends all over the sofa and take over the television for games and movies, my husband and I turned it into a little cozy retreat so we could watch our own shows and still be in hearing distance to the kiddos.  We use it daily now.
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I firmly believe that anyone can make any space work for them, with planning, simplifying, and rethinking how a space can adapt to what you need to use it for right now.  And I also believe that’s how you turn a house into a home.