Warning: This post is all over the damn place, but I promise you’ll get design! DIY! Drinks!
Earlier this summer (okay, I guess it was spring), my favorite furniture company, Article, asked if I wanted to partner on some summer patio content. Immediately, I responded with something along the lines of, “YASSS! My deck totally sucks!” And then I was all, “Oh, shit! My deck totally sucks.”
Really, you guys, it totally sucked.
In addition to the very clear view of the neighbors’ ugly garage, the deck was long, narrow, and awkward. It also opened into a leaf-filled mud pit between our house and garage. The only reason we even had it built was to satisfy our homeowners’ insurance because of a weird door that opened to nowhere (old house, long story). For the most part, it served as an expensive dog sunning spot/fancy fence. I mean, I guess as far as decks go, it was a nice enough pile of planks, but there was nothing spectacular, and very little that was functional, about it.
But I wasn’t going to let a funky space and fugly view keep me from featuring more of my favorite furniture. So, I measured and planned, consulted Kyle (and even took most of his opinions into consideration), and eventually decided on a fun mix of pieces from Article’s outdoor collection that would fit our less-than-fabulous, not-super-spacious deck.
On the left is the Aeri chair with slate gray cushions. If you think you might want to sink into it and never get up, you’re right! The loveseat (which is the perfect size for our weird-ass deck) is the Palo in Paloma Gray. It’s super light-weight and sturdy, and it’s on sale right now. The gorgeous white rattan-looking chair is called the Medan (also on sale!) and it’s actually mostly metal, which means it will probably last FOR-EV-AR. It’s basically my outdoor throne when I put on enough bug spray and sunscreen to actually go outside in the summer (more on that later). The coffee table is the Nimbus in white and while it’s intended for the outdoors, I’m not too fancy to put it inside, either.
Still, I couldn’t get over the fact that our deck was pretty much an eyesore and that I had to do something about it before taking pictures. It’s no secret that I tend to obsess over things, so I spent hours, and hours, and hours looking at pre-fab fence panels and slatted-wood privacy screens, but couldn’t find anything I liked — at least not that I could afford. So, I did what I always do next, and consulted Shawn (the renovation equivalent of my work husband) who told me, “Oh, those things are so easy to build. You can totally do it!”
BOOM! Problem solved. In theory, anyway.
Meanwhile, because apparently, miracles (or wonderful spouses) actually do happen, Kyle decided to take our toddler out of town for Memorial Day weekend so I could have some time to myself. THREE WHOLE DAYS TO MYSELF. AT HOME. ALONE. BY MYSELF. HOME ALONE. If you have kids, you know how big of a deal this is. So, instead of finishing my disaster of a second-floor paint job or tackling anything else on my giant to-do list, I focused all my energy on making our back deck picture-perfect, or at least “picture good enough.”
Okay, okay; I didn’t do it all by myself. I did convince Shawn to come over and help me frame out the panels, and he gave me a little tutorial (and pep talk) on finishing it. But he was right — it was super easy! I just used six-foot pressure-treated lath strips, galvanized nails, and some good, old-fashioned elbow grease. I mean, I hammered my thumb more than once, got a bazillion mosquito bites, and made more than one run to Sutherlands for some fence posts to cover the seams of the not-so-perfectly-cut Lowe’s lath. But in one long, sweaty weekend I built the three privacy panels for the corner of our deck. I also transported and laid 750 pounds of decorative rocks all by myself (which sounds like it would cover a lot of ground, but really, it doesn’t) and gave our chicken coop The World’s Worst Paint Job.
The following week, my furniture was delivered (and assembled by the delivery people!) and all of a sudden, my dud of a deck was a little outdoor oasis.
It’s gorgeous, right?
To be honest, though, I haven’t spent too much time out there yet because I hate — LOATHE, DESPISE, WANT TO PUNCH — summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know this. But now that the end of summer is in sight (on the calendar at least) I’m gearing up to spend all the time outside. And the boozy, bubbly lemonade I created to serve on my gorgeous new patio was inspired by the massive amounts of basil and mint that pop up in my little back-deck container garden in the late summer months.
So, without further, ado, my Late-Summer Lemonade…
A super-simple basil-mint syrup is the star of this recipe. And because the proportions are very basic, you can mix up one to cool off after a long, hot day, or prepare it as a punch for a patio party. Whiskey is my spirit of choice for this drink but vodka or tequila would work, too. You can also just skip the booze altogether.
NOTE: Most of the time, I recommend squeezing your own fresh lemon juice for cocktails, but if you’re making this in a big batch, that’s a lot of labor. Luckily, I’ve found a bottled lemon juice, Santa Cruz, that’s fabulous in cocktails. Just be sure to give it a good shake before you use it.
1 part basil-mint syrup*
1 part lemon juice
1 part whiskey
2 parts club soda
Basil or mint sprig for garnish
Add the syrup, lemon juice, and whiskey to a glass, mix well, add a handful of ice, give it another quick stir, then garnish with a sprig of fresh mint or basil.
Yield: 2 cups
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup loosely-packed basil leaves (some stems okay)
1 cup loosely-packed mint leaves (some stems okay)
To make the basil-mint simple syrup, combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir well and bring it to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and add the herbs, stirring once to incorporate. Let the mixture steep for at least a half-hour (even better, let it sit until it cools completely). Strain using a fine-mesh sieve and discard the herbs, and transfer into a sealed jar or bottle. This will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks, but (honestly, it’s fine a lot longer — just covering my ass here).
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This post is made possible by a partnership with Article, who provided me with the pictured patio furniture in exchange for a blog post, recipe, photos, and social media posts.