This quaint courtyard is at my Mother and Dad’s house at the lake. It is nestled in between the garage, laundry room and dining room. If you walk down their front walk, it is to the left of the front door. However, it was not always there!
When my parents bought this lake place about 33 years ago, it was a tiny one story cabin. They found out from the original owners the house was named “Little by Little”, for obvious reasons. Like so many lake homes, they start out small and evolve over time. (Just like ours!) So after they bought the cabin they laid plans for an addition. They added a large master suite and bath, a laundry room and garage to the main level and two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs. This main floor addition left a little outdoor cubby hole. Originally it was filled with plants and shrubs, but an untimely leak from their refrigerator (yes, a fridge leak similar to my brothers!) changed this spot forever!
The ice maker hose sprung a slow leak and damaged the wood floor underneath as well as parts of the dining room. In order to repair the damage, they had to pull the shrubs out from behind the kitchen and dining room walls on the exterior. This left the spot bare and open for a fun courtyard that my Mother always wanted! They had extensive french drains added and a new gutter system so that water and rain would never be an issue. Working with my brother (who owns a lawn and tree service) and his friends they installed a beautiful new area with patio pavers and worked in a fun circular design feature in the center of the courtyard and on the path beside.
Every year my Mother fills her urns and planters with fresh seasonal flowers and freshens up the courtyard. But this year she has been busy with so many other things and on the go she hasn’t gotten around to it yet. So, as a surprise for her birthday, we decided to sneak over while she and my Dad were out for a birthday lunch. My sister in law and niece helped. I could not have done this without them, so THANK YOU! <3 These are a few before pictures…
I bought 4 packs of string lights (Target) and I had some leftover hooks from Christmas that attach to the gutters. I painted the plastic white hooks brown so they would match the gutters and not stand out. (I’m so glad I did!) I got the string lights with clear round bulbs and green wire so it would blend in better. (I saw some with yellow wire. Not sure what that’s about, so I recommend green wire.) We used 4 strands of lights for a total of 100 twinkling lights. This part actually took the longest! Luckily there were 3 hands on deck so 2 of us were on ladders and my the other handed the lights back and forth and gauged the best height for the strands. These add a fun and festive touch to any area!
They have a fire pit they use quite often in cold weather, but takes up valuable space when not in use. My original plan was to find a round piece of glass to cover the fire pit bowl and turn it into a table, but that turned out to be a tricky proposition. I went to 5 stores and no one had a large round piece of glass! It seemed like a pretty standard thing to me. So, plan B. I found a round wood disk at Lowe’s. I spray painted it black and prayed it would fit. It did! Now it will function as a table when not in use and hopefully protect the fire bowl from rust and water damage. We decorated the new “table” with a fern and lion statue> (from Hobby Lobby)
The existing arborvitaes got a pick me up by tying together the trunks that had seperated using wire twists. (one of my garden cart’s favorite must haves) We added some fresh soil and added the fillers and spillers. (Vinca vine and pink begonias) We put one in each back corner of the courtyard for height and color.
We rearranged the furniture a little for more intimate conversation areas. Plus, I’m a sucker for symmetry! We positioned the Lutyens bench on the back wall underneath the fountain. I think the white bench draws your eye to the fountain and into the courtyard. We moved the wicker rockers closer together and put the table in between and mirrored the look on the opposite wall with chairs and a table.
Mother already had a few pillows but I found a few more outdoor ones at Pier 1. They were on sale which is always nice! The seat cushions were still in great shape so we left those as is.
The hanging lantern (on the left side of the courtyard) was my Grandfathers and my Mother had it electrified and hung it from a vintage wrought iron hook. This will complement the new string lights and give the courtyard lots of twinkling ambiance at night. I thought adding a timer to all of the lights might be nice then they could schedule the lights to go on and off when they wanted. I’ll mention it to them. The two glass lanterns on the tables have new Luminara outdoor candles in them. These can be turned off and on with a remote control. We added a few more flowers here and there. Fresh cut gardenias will give the area a wonderful fragrance!
We are having a family get together tomorrow and now the courtyard will be the first thing everyone sees when they walk down the sidewalk to the front door. I can’t wait to see how it all looks at night with the lights and candles lit! My Mother and Dad loved it when they saw it! I hope it was a wonderful birthday surprise. Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you! You’re the Best!