Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where Y'At Vamp? The Yard Reveal!

If you have been reading Visual Vamp for a couple of years or so, you know I live in New Orleans, and that our home survived Katrina, and that the yard took a beating. The yard is big by city standards, and it had been neglected by the previous owner, and I had made a start at fixing it up. You can see many previous photos if you go to the right hand margin and scroll way down to "labels". Click on the label "Yards", and on the label "Outside-Gardens", and you will see my yard, front porch, etc., and several inspiration photos and ideas I have collected over the years.

Today, the reveal!

Visual Vamp patio now

Of course the elements I always use are: Working with what one has, color, art, flowers, comfort, and a sense of fun, and so it goes with this project.

Visual Vamp patio then, after Katrina

It took over five years to get to this reveal. The fence between our neighbor's home had blown down in the hurricane, and the process to rebuild took a long time. About 7 months ago, the beautiful fence was completed, and that was what I was waiting for to realize a project I had been planning and dreaming about.

A similar view to the post Katrina photo as it looks now

I had started to add rock to the beat down drive way, one bag at a time from Home Depot. I also tried to get a rock path going along the side of the house, upping it to six bags at a time. My friend Sabina and Alberto would buy me those six bags as a gift once in awhile! Needless to say it was like filling a swimming pool with an eye dropper.

A few months ago I saw a young man, Derek Brown (504 813 9428), doing some hard scape for a neighbor, and we struck up a conversation, and he came over and listened to my "I Love Lucy" schemes for dealing with crappy cracked concrete, a wood handicap ramp, a huge weed patch, some chain link gates, and my insatiable desire for a ton of rocks. As luck wold have it, Derek had a rock pile with my name on it, a surplus left from another job, and a price I could afford. He arrived with rock and a Bobcat, and the demo of the ramp and gates happened, and the rock in the driveway was put down. I was in heaven!

The back portion of my yard, had three concrete patois. It was divided into two separate spaces divided by a chain link fence and gate, creating two yards for the once double shotgun house this had been. I had the fence and gate removed to open up the space.

Painted patio floor

I have finally become a true New Orleanian! I paint cement!!!! I have always hated when people painted concrete. But here in New Orleans everyone paints their porches and patios. It took eleven years for me to get with the program!

One of the patios is raised, so I painted it the same deep hunter green that the neighbors (Julie and Larry) painted the fence. I like using green outside, the color of nature.

Four piece patio set by Martha Stewart at Home Depot

I made this patio the main sitting area. I opted for a coffee table and four comfy chairs, rather than a dining table. The coffee table has a top that comes off and becomes a fire pit. I bought this set at Home Depot on sale long before the renovation started. I know you know what I mean when I tell you I was stockpiling it for the future. It's by Martha Stewart. It came with the cushions, and it is very nice quality.

River rock covers a cracked concrete patio

Other elements on the patio are art, lighting, plants, a bar. I covered the lower cracked concrete patio with river rock. I love the pea gravel used in European gardens, but I opted for the larger river rock.

Rope lighting and lanterns are nice at night

Yes Patricia, there is a modest fountain now!

Every garden needs a tranquil Buddha, or a Virgin Mary statue, so I thought I would add oversize art to the patio, and paint a huge Buddha. I call it "Pink Buddha". I thought to use pink as an accent color in honor of the 2011 color of the year. I started with some little pink plastic folding tables ($10. each), pink flowers and foliage, and pink fabric in the pillows.

I painted this pink Buddha!

The third patio is in front of the back door we use, the garage, and a shed, so I did not put rock here. I painted it another shade of green, and also painted the two back doors a third green. The rock is held in place by a gray bricks that were laid out in a serpentine pattern. There's also another Buddha here, a glow-in-the-dark one that my friend Jack gave me for my 60th birthday. We think it came from a Chinese restaurant. Jack found it in a store on Magazine Street that sells vintage and antique things, and I just love it and have used it in several rooms in the house, but I think he looks swell on the new patio.

Serpentine placement of gray brick contain the rock bed
I spy the Buddha Jack gave me!

Patio in front of garage and shed is painted Martini Olive green

The bar and the lighted "@" sign
As in Where it's at!

The bright green back door

Trina Turk pillow from Etsy

Planters with bamboo sticks in front of AC unit

I had some funky planters that I put bamboo sticks into to screen the air conditioner. I'm not fooling anyone that the huge AC unit is there, but it is a little cuter! I had a collection of bird houses that I was ready to get rid of, but I used them as a "screen" on another side of the AC unit.

Funky bird houses

All of this has been happening at a crazy pace, because our home is on a house tour on Saturday!

We even did a quick fix on the attic window that Katrina blew out. We painted the plywood, put back the old window trim we saved, and hung a fragment of an old iron gate I had picked up years ago because I thought it was cute, and had it stashed in my shed for use one day!

The attic window quick fix

The front porch got spiffed up too. The porch floor (it's concrete) got the dreaded paint job, in this case an opaque concrete stain, and all the fence and railings were painted too.

Porch and steps and gates were painted
The spots are the Spring falling of pollen

I replaced all the outdoor rugs with some new ones from perch. (504 899-2122), and edited the furniture.

A fun vintage yellow Eames chair was added

New indoor/outdoor rugs from perch. - 504 899 2122

Entree des artistes!

The river rock driveway
Gray bricks contain the rock

The driveway ends at the lawn

After all the rock was down, I had to decide what to do with a huge ghetto weed patch. I considered fake grass, until all you bloggers screamed NO, beware of dog pee! I could have extended the rock to the garage, which would make sense if cars went into the garage. But cars have never been in this garage. It was used as a card party room by the original owners, and a workshop by subsequent owners. Alberto uses it as workshop.

And there was another family member to consider! It's Cholo! Cholo needed grass to play on! And it is so nice to have a patch of grass in a city setting.

Cholo says he needs some grass to play on

St. Augustine sod was laid down just before Mardi Gras, and it was a little brown and patchy. But the feed store said it would fill in, to water it, and I have done that and babied it, and Cholo's lawn is getting more lush with every day. I was told it would look pretty good by April, and by the miracle of nature, it is!

Pink flowers down the 100 year brick sidewalk

Another candidate for river rock was an area on the other side of the house, what I call the breezeway. The 100 year old brick was a mess, and it would have been easy to cover it up. But in the end I opted to restore it the best it could be, wanting to see and walk on those old bricks for another 100 years.

I added the visual design element of repetition by hanging multiple baskets of pink petunias. Oh that it could be the giant Kartell Misses Flower Power vases! But I think this looks charming, and a surprise awaits at the end of the path. Remember I said I took another chain link gate down at the beginning of this walkway. I wanted the passer by to peer down the old brick walkway, and see a fountain at the far end, my Valentine to the secret courtyards in The French Quarter.

My dreams for the house involve ripping off the plastic siding and restoring the old cypress boards, and rebuilding the old window and door frames, and putting shutters back on the house.
All I need is fifty thousand dollars ha ha. Alberto and I have done all the DIY projects that we are capable of, so maybe the siding will never get done. So I keep the house clean and in as good of repair as possible.

100 year old Sweet Olive tree near an entrance of the house
Sweet Olive is traditionally placed at an entrance,
it's beautiful fragrance to welcome all who enter

So this is what has taken me away from blogging! Alberto and I are so happy with the yard. As the trees and plants grow back after the Winter frost, it will look even prettier. We look forward to hanging out, and invite you all to come and sit a spell, and toss the ball to Cholo!

Driveway gates and iron fence got a paint job

Special thanks to neighbors Julie and and Larry on one side, and Deb and Michael on the other side, and Jack for helping me paint, and Derek and his helper Scott for never laughing at my ideas, and always making them a reality, and mostly to Alberto who is always cheerful when I ask him to build, fix, or install, and for telling me he loves the home I have made for us, and that he appreciates my dynamic decor style.

Monday, March 21, 2011


"Primavera" by Louis St. Lewis

The wonderful little painting in the vignette above on my entry table at the front door is entitled "Primavera", and was done by the artist Louis St. Lewis. It is a combination of oil on canvas and collage.

It is for sale by me at a very modest price. Please email me if you would like it.

It's been Spring for a good long six weeks here in New Orleans, and with luck, the fine weather will hold until the last week in April when it suddenly becomes Summer until November.

Been enjoying the huge gorgeous moon the last two nights, as I am sure you have been in your part of the world.

So happy first day of Spring!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Your Thoughts Please ~ Weekend Round Up

This is a slacker post. I am up to my ears in the hoopla with a couple of photo shoots, working on Art In Bloom, getting ready for the PRC House Tour, so it's just a show and tell kind of post today.

Like all of you, I collect images that catch my attention, sometimes me likeee, sometimes not.

So let's play together: Your thoughts please...

1. Antler sconces. I love these, even though the antler thing keeps getting played. I confess, I have antlers in my home.

2. Wall of taxidermy! I have grown accustomed to the taxidermy trend in decor, but man this is alot of head. It is a hunter's home I suspect, but no me likee so many. Actually it's a historical home HERE

3. Dem bones. I collect and use "curiosities" in my decor. I have life size skeleton charts, sea shells, specimen bugs, coral, tortoise shells, etc. This is amazing. It's from the same house as the wall o' animal heads.

4. Orange. I predict some shade of orange will be the 2012 color of the year.

5. Stripe stair runner. LOVE! Mainly because it's black and white and wiggles.

6. Big clocks. Have one. Still love it, even though they sell them in Wal Mart, Steinmart, and at the corner store. Love the low hang too.

7. Circle headboard. Looks like chair cushions stuck to the wall. LOVE. And these monograms are refreshing. Every Southern gal in these parts loves to monogram everything. I didn't get it for a long time, but I must confess I have some monograms in my house now too. I guess after eleven years of living here, something rubbed off on this damn Yankee.

So there you have the Your Thoughts Please Weekend Round Up. So? Your thoughts?

PS The April mags coming through the mail slot - so far, Elle Decor is good this month. Veranda is still finding it's pace, but still worthwhile. House Beautiful is good. Online, Lonny was pretty good too. Town and Country is really sad. Stephen lost interest for his last issue. Southern Living is consistent, best for the food features.

And Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Belles of Ireland

photo by Steven Meisel

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Green beer! The wearin' of the green: Green socks, green bras, green beads and boas (here in NOLA).

And look at the lovely belles of Ireland. Their big beautiful skirts look just like the flowers called Bells of Ireland.

The flower called Bells of Ireland

via Ali Eli Flowers HERE

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspired News

The fabric house Kravet and Lee Jofa publish a nifty glossy publication called "".
I get it at the shop I work in, because it's a trade publication. It is so beautiful, that I investigated how you might get it too.

The full color photos are spectacular, and the articles in this issue feature designer projects that inspire Kravet. They use established designers, and up and coming talent too. This particular issue is all about color, and they got some interesting folks to share a project that reflects their philosophy about color, and that demonstrates his or her personality about color.

In the editorial Scott Kravet tells us that he has laid eyes on millions if not billions of color. He says that he can confidently say there is no such thing as the perfect color. Do you agree?

Colorist designers Miles Redd, Diamond and Barrata, Kelly Wearstler, Todd Romano, Jonathan Adler, Allegra Hicks, Michael Weiss, Barclay Butera, and more, all have oversize large glossy photos to drool over.

Barclay Butera

There's a Proustian style questionnaire with Vicente Wolf, and even a recipe, and a cool DIY feature about re-sizing art.

I've captured some images to share with you, but they just are not doing justice to the magazine I hold in my hands.

Diamond & Baratta

Have I made you want to get this sensational publication yet?

Contact Jennifer Powell at Kravet and tell her Valorie Hart The Visual Vamp from perch. in New Orleans sends you. Her email is: