Name: Amanda V
Location: Alexandria, Virginia
Type of space: Patio & Garden
Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: My garden is my favorite spot to do everything: read, eat, sleep, mess around in the dirt, and hang out with friends. My husband and I moved down to DC in 2006 so I could attend law school, so for 3 years I didn't have much time or money to improve the space. As graduation approached, I realized that I needed an outdoor spot to study for the bar, or I'd wouldn't see the light of day until August! Now I camp out every afternoon on my daybed with notecards and outlines. Any task seems more manageable when you can do it outside, right?
...Working in my garden makes me so happy! When I'm stressed, I just walk to Home Depot (where they're starting to mistake me for an employee) and pick up something to plant. Having my hands in the dirt for five minutes instantly lifts my mood. Now my husband, who grew up in cities, loves to join me for a nap on the daybed. Thanks to everyone who has submitted photos of their Outdoor Spaces — they've been so inspiring!
How did you create it? I grew up around farmland, so I obsess about gardening — especially fruits and vegetables. When we first moved in, I planted in containers while gazing longingly at the 1/4 of our patio that was covered in useless white pebbles. After 3 years of begging, our landlord generously let me dig up that section and transform it into a vegetable garden! I unearthed the rocks and replaced them with a combination of garden soil, manure, gypsum (clay conditioner), and compost. I wasn't sure if the soil would be rich enough, so I divided my plants between the garden and my old pots. I went a little crazy buying plants: zucchini, cucumber, several varieties of tomatoes & peppers, onions, arugula, and two blueberry bushes. Amazingly, all are doing well! In previous years, I could only coax a few tiny vegetables from each plant. This year, I'm hoping for a real harvest! Even my husband, who finds my farmer-ways totally foreign, is excited about how much the plants have grown.
Next, the daybed. I loved the idea of a spot for lounging outdoors, but the outdoor daybeds I found online were way too expensive, and I liked the idea of using salvaged materials. The "shipping pallet daybed" post on Apartment Therapy inspired me to create my own daybed out of pallets from Home Depot. The backrest is a curved cabinet door that I found by a dumpster — the shape is perfect! I bought grandma-print chaise lounge cushions to add color, leaving enough room on the end for a table surface. The blue birdcage is from Anthropologie, and the tray is from Target. For lighting, I put candles in empty condiment jars (pickles, hot peppers, etc.). When it rains, their lids keep them dry!
The green "chandelier," which was broken (thus $10!) in Urban Outfitters, was the finishing touch. I spraypainted it lime green and strung it with Christmas lights, which loop across the underside of the deck like a real cord and extend across the back of the horizontal beam. Even at night, there's enough light for me to do a few practice tests!
Recommended store, site, product or resource? Home Depot, Lowe's, Designsponge, Strange's Garden Center in Richmond, Virginia, and Apartment Therapy!