ALL DECKED OUT WITH RAYMOUR & FLANIGAN

After the excessively brutal winter we experienced here in New Hampshire, there was no prospect more exciting than preparing for outdoor living as the days began to lengthen and the temperatures slowly but surely rose. Well, the planning actually began in the form of desperate fantasizing about lounging in the sun and nighttime cocktails on the deck as we were pummeled with blizzard after blizzard…haha! We live in a wooded area by a lake and because nature plays such an integral role in our day-to-day backdrop, we’ve made it a point during the renovation of our property to maximize the potential for enjoying our surroundings during those very short months when the weather actually permits it. And here in New England, that essentially translates to deck living.  After the framework to our addition was completed last spring, we built decks in the front and back of our modified A-frame and constructed an attached pergola on the back deck. Although we have a sizeable yard in the back (which is now seeded, thankfully, and no longer a lunar-like wasteland of of weeds, rocky soil and construction debris), our intention was to create one long, expansive space where all of the entertaining/lounging areas would be concentrated. We managed to have all of the structures built and stained/painted before last winter, but we didn’t have the opportunity to actually “deck” it out and properly enjoy it. Until now. I’ve styled it up in partnership with the amazing people at Raymour & Flanigan and it is ready for the season!

So for the sake of visualizing the evolution of this project, I’ll share some before shots:

DECK MAKEOVER BUILD

This was taken last summer as the back deck was being built. Yes, we’ve been living in a perpetual construction site. Check out that luscious lawn!

DECK MAKEOVER PERGOLA

At this point, the attached pergola had just been built and we were about to embark on the always fun stage of endless painting and staining. Irony intended.

Fast forward to over a month ago, when the outdoor furniture from Raymour & Flanigan was delivered! I chose the Tilley Outdoor Sofa and the Tilley Outdoor Chair (I got a pair) to create an outdoor living room beneath the pergola. I was so incredibly excited to see these gorgeous pieces in place, with their incredibly clean, modern lines and deep seating, that I couldn’t help but temporarily set it up, even though there was still quite a bit of prep work needing to be addressed before the install.

BEFORE DECK MAKEOVER

As soon as the weather was warm enough to actually start working outside, we started with retouching all of the white paint on the pergola and restaining the entire back deck because unfortunately, even treated wood takes quite a beating from the harsh elements here in New England.

DECK MAKEOVER BEFORE 1

We also installed waterproof, bamboo blinds on the three (exposed) sides of the pergola so that we’d have the option of sun filtering on those super bright days. And for ambient lighting in the evenings, we hung string lights and a cluster of solar pendant lights which were an easy DIY hack we fashioned using five rattan-style baskets (they’re actually resin-coated, because as you can imagine, everything stays out and needs to be weatherproof around here!).

DECK MAKEOVER BEFORE 2

Now the decorating fun begins. Notice the mammoth pillow pile in the back…those are the Sunbrella cushions for the sofa and chair set.  I have never seen or sat on cushier things in my life! I am strangely obsessed with them.

DECK MAKEOVER BEFORE 3

And so with the outdoor rug down and the seating intact, I brought in greenery and items from my personal hoard (decorative pillows, textiles and tables, etc.) to pull this outdoor space together. Ultimately, I wanted it to be comfortable and inviting; after all, this is where we are going to do some serious lounging, whether chilling out as a family or entertaining. It is where we will have lazy coffees in the morning and unwind after a grilled meal in the evening with drinks. And of course, I wanted it to feel like a bit of an escape. A sensorial retreat from reality…like a vacation, but conveniently, at home. Everything is weatherproof and can be left out in the rain, except for my kilim pillows which I just toss into one of our sheds when the weather promises to be inclement. And voila…

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Can’t get over the stunning, modern design and roominess of these pieces! I also fell in love with their black Coil Solar Outdoor Lantern and got a few for scattering around on the floor and on tabletops.

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And there you have it! It took a while, but this deck is finally transformed and more than ready for what is guaranteed to be much use until the cold weather kicks in again! Cheers to spring and summer on the horizon!

  • I have partnered with Raymour & Flanigan and received product in exchange for this post. All expressed opinions are 100% my own.

*Images and text by Astrid Insieme

FIRE AND ICE WITH RAYMOUR & FLANIGAN

We’re just a couple of days shy of the winter solstice…and what better way to celebrate the arrival of Old Man Winter (who, admittedly, decided to show up MUCH earlier than desired this year…haha!) than with a good, old-fashioned fire in the snowy woods? If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve been busy tying up all of our outdoor projects before the onset of the long, cold months ahead. The last of which was the creation of a permanent fire pit area in our backyard which we cast amidst a path of concrete pavers. Well, it took a little longer than anticipated, but it’s finally finished and already been put to good use, in partnership with my friends at Raymour & Flanigan!

Before we jump in, I thought I’d just share a quick, visual chronology of the basic steps of the fire pit project:

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The process was relatively straightforward and devoid of issues, until, a freak snowstorm hit – with no forecast in sight – about twelve hours after we had poured the final round of concrete in the form. Thankfully, my extremely patient and amazingly capacious Husband, who makes absolutely EVERYTHING possible around here, decided to quickly cover the fire pit with one of those collapsible shed structures, and rigged some heat lamps in the interior to keep the temperature above freezing so that the concrete would cure properly.

rf-firepit-build-6         rf-firepit-build-7

And so thanks to his timely solution and efforts, our fire pit was saved! And ready to be used, even with arctic temperatures and snowdrifts dominating the landscaping…haha! Because we’re crazy like that. So long as the flames are persistent and the wine is flowing, there’s plenty of sustainable warmth to enjoy the picturesque surroundings!

In collaboration with Raymour & Flanigan, I’ve styled our outdoor fire pit area with very simple Adirondack-style chairs in white (Mopani Outdoor Chair), and a loveseat bench in the same style (Hantom Outdoor Bench). The simple lines of the Adirondack-inspired design of the chosen seating are just perfect for our rustic setting, and conjure up that quintessentially New England vibe regardless of the season. Because we’re in the throes of some seriously cold days here in New Hampshire, the only other elements that are necessary are some cozy layers in the form of plaid throws, pelts, kilim pillows and some lanterns for effect. Oh, and fire, of course! Accompanied by warming beverage(s) of choice. And there you have it…the makings of a simple, unfussy scene to enjoy the stark beauty of winter!

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Happy wintering, everybody…stay warm, safe and jolly, and may the season be merry and bright, well into the New Year!

  • I have partnered with Raymour & Flanigan and received product in exchange for this post. All expressed opinions are 100% my own.

* Images and text by Astrid Insieme

THE MAKING OF A SHE SHED (OR SHEd)

This summer has been replete with seemingly endless outdoor projects in our quest to finalize the exterior of the addition, address some seriously daunting landscaping issues, and ultimately, to create usable spaces around our property for lounging and entertaining. Because let me tell you…it’s been obscenely muddy and chaotic around here for what seems like an eternity! We’ve just finished building front and back decks, and are in the throes of reconstructing the neighborhood’s old pump house (which was kindly given to us) in our backyard, which we will be using for storage of seasonal and recreational items. This new acquisition has left one of our existing sheds entirely freed up for…well, the possibilities were infinite. Admittedly, I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of creating a special space – a sort of fantastical retreat – in a tiny structure, and so here was my opportunity. The decision was an easy one, and I am ecstatic to have partnered with my friends at Raymour & Flanigan in the transformation of our 10 x 10 foot utilitarian shed into an outdoor oasis for summertime chilling!

Because the shed clearly has spatial limitations, I wanted to ensure that it efficiently served two functions: providing leisurely spots for seating, and offering surfaces for entertaining (and by that, I mean places to rest drinks and such…haha!). As far as its aesthetic direction, my vision was to create a space that was equal parts global and chic, with a subdued, tropical vibe. This little, outdoor room had to feel like a bit of a sanctuary, an inviting refuge. And here’s how I did it:

Giving the dingy, interior walls and floor a fresh coat of white paint was the first step.

SHE SHED BEFORE  1    SHE SHED BEFORE  2

(Let us please ignore the newly hydro-seeded grass that has started to come in and that we have managed to kill. Despite obsessive watering.)

Once painted, then the true fun began!

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I had chosen some beautifully striking and functional pieces from Raymour & Flanigan and planned on mixing them with items from my own stash to decorate and style the space. Once all the wares had been delivered, it was time for installation! I laid down a sisal rug banded with a brown border that I had in storage to create a natural, neutral grounding for the colorful and bold furnishings and decorative accents that I would be layering in the SHEd. The gorgeous ikat settee (Emelio Loveseat) and luxuriously tufted chaise lounge in navy (Lansing Chaise Lounge) add the ideal dose of sophisticated, bohemian flavor and in addition to being supremely comfortable, feel perfectly scaled in this intimate setting. The turquoise coffee table is from India and is one of my most cherished pieces from my hoard…I mean collection. Gilded wall plates and a federal-style, convex mirror (also from my hoard) were added for a touch of gilded glam, and some greenery was brought in to inject a touch of tropicalia. Can you tell I have a penchant for blue? Probably not.

SHE SHED INSTALL 2     SHE SHED INSTALL 3

Soft furnishings (pillows and suzani textiles from my hoard/collection) were added liberally. I am such a shameless fan of pattern mixing and believe it should be done with conviction…more is definitely more in this case! Saturated colors and ethnic prints always make an incredible visual impact, especially when juxtaposed against the crispness of white walls. Once all the final touches were made and everything was styled accordingly, the SHEd was ready for her debut…and here is how she looked!

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I also chose the Irina Outdoor Armchair and the Lodi Outdoor Serving Cart which collectively provide a wonderful, woodsy warmth to the space. Both are crafted from acacia wood and are such solid and functional pieces. No oasis would be complete without a station to replenish one’s drinks, right?

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Essentially, I couldn’t neglect the outside of the SHEd, now that she was all done up on the inside. The Karoo Outdoor Bench is truly the most perfect of outdoor benches that I could have placed alongside one of the exterior walls. It is beautifully crafted, super long, super sturdy and has absolutely gorgeous lines. Dressed with heaps of vintage kilim pillows from Turkey, it has become my favorite perch for indulging in extra-long morning coffees.

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And there you have it…as the old adage goes, good things (can) come in little packages! A huge thanks to Raymour & Flanigan for helping make this transformation happen. They have such an incredibly vast and varied array of inventory to suit any decor style, and have been such a dream to partner with!

  • I have partnered with Raymour & Flanigan and received product in exchange for this post. All expressed opinions are 100% my own.

 

 

* Images and text by Astrid Insieme

A TALE OF TRANSFORMATION

Just thought I’d begin by sharing a brief chronicle of the progress we have made transforming a once derelict (but teeming with potential) A-frame in the woods of New Hampshire into our year-round home! This particular story commences about five years ago, when my Husband, Brian, and I began tackling the initial phase of this remodel primarily on our own, except for the electrical and plumbing work which we (naturally) hired out. I should mention, if only to humor myself in remembrance of our joint insanity, that we were actually living onsite while carrying out this extremely laborious, messy and protracted renovation. This could have proven to be a very poor decision, as sleeping on a mattress on the floor, amidst power machinery and mammoth piles of construction debris, isn’t usually the prescribed formula for ensuring a newly married couple’s happiness and stability…haha! But thankfully, we have survived and are still at it!

So here is the evolution of phase one of the undertaking, which essentially involved a full exterior and interior facelift. (For more photos and details, you can check out our “Before & After” feature on Design*Sponge here from a couple of years ago.)

The exterior (before, during and after):

cottage before reno    cottage reno phase 2    summer aframe

The interior (before and after):

looking into the kitchen before 1

interior after

(I have kindly spared you the sight of the bathroom in its unadulterated, “before” state. But if you are curious, I hope you will be satiated with the knowledge that there were relentless colonies of mushrooms growing from the soggy floorboards. And stenciled, green ducks on tongue and groove walls stained every hideous shade of orange imaginable.)

Once the A-frame was fully rehabilitated, we took about a year off to recuperate our energies before embarking on phase two of our grand plans for this property. For familial reasons, we knew that adding onto the tiny cottage was imperative, and fortunately, we had the land and the space to expand. So we drafted the design ourselves and once all the bureaucratic steps were taken to secure the go-ahead to build the addition, we enlisted a contractor to execute our vision. And here’s how that chapter of the story went:

aframe reno snow

remodel spring

This is where we stepped back into the picture. Ambitious (read: crazy) people that we are, Brian and I have resumed putting our collective stamp on our home by beginning to paint the exterior (at the moment, we have only finished the facade), and initializing some minor hardscaping projects, such as laying a rustic entry path of bluestone pavers to the front deck. Which as you can see, clearly needs to be repainted at this point given the abuse it’s been taking as of late!

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remodel painting

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The to-do list for this summer is frighteningly massive and involves: painting the rest of the house, installing shutters and flower boxes, extending and painting the front deck, building a back deck with an attached pergola, depositing loam around the remainder of the property in preparation for hydro seed, building a backyard fire pit, and giving three of our sheds facelifts. Reasonable or delusional? We shall see in a few months…haha!

remodel back final

And that’s where we’re currently at! If all goes according to plan, this utilitarian shed in the foreground will be receiving a bit of an unexpected makeover very soon…stay tuned!

 

*Images and text by Astrid Insieme