Creating an Outdoor "Room"

We recently endeavored on a little outdoor project that revolved around the idea of creating an outdoor "room" in our backyard.  A couple of years ago, we put in a fire pit area - we cleared the ground, put in a border material, and filled it with pea gravel before stacking the stone for the fire pit.  It's a great seating area we enjoy most of the year.  

Poufs + B&W pillows:  Target     Natural weave pillows:  Pier 1

Poufs + B&W pillows: Target    Natural weave pillows: Pier 1


We love that our property backs up to forest, but it's a constant battle to keep it from encroaching on our hard-earned outdoor oasis!  So, in an effort to create a buffer, we decided to build a garden screen to be a physical barrier from the wilder elements (ahem, poison ivy).  

My husband and I were the landscape design duo behind the screen, and it came together on the fly.  It was very important to me that the screen contribute to the overall vibe of the yard, that it not be something we just put up, but that gave the sense of an outdoor room.  

Backyard - Alison Giese Interiors
Garden Screen - Alison Giese Interiors

Eventually, covered in jasmine vine, it will create not just a sense of space, but a highly-sensory experience.  Combined with the neutral and textural elements we selected for furnishings and accents, it extends the design aesthetic we have inside our home to the outdoors, effectively expanding our living area.

I can't wait for the screen to be covered in the little fragrant blooms.  So far, so good!

Spring in Northern Virginia

I was thinking the other day about family traditions, as they relate to the Seasons.  Being a native of South Texas, where the seasonal distinction amounts to Summer, and less-Summer-ish, the whole notion of having four, distinct climate intervals was novel when we first moved to Northern Virginia.  The seasons truly are celebrated here, with people partaking of rituals, if you will, to acknowledge the quarterly gifts of Nature.

Many people associate Spring as a time of renewal, often tackling areas around the house that could use some "sprucing" up, or maybe as an opportunity to make good on that vow to de-clutter.  We were recently featured in an article on Houzz about the To-Do's for your "May Home."  Let's just say I have several items to check off the list!

Getting back to our home, it dawned on me, that we really don't have "that thing" we always do to welcome Spring. I don't roll up rugs, or substitute lighter bed linens for heavier ones, or even switch out throw pillows on the sofa.  Maybe that's more of a commentary on where we are in the craziness of Life, but the shift seems more subtle, more attitudinal.  After a drawn-out Winter, it feels like Spring is the palate cleanser.

Our home projects move towards the landscape, as we crave more time outdoors. This year, we got a head start on our little box garden, and have been enjoying all the fresh greens.  I hope I'm able to pass along my excitement for growing things to our girls, and that it becomes something we look forward to doing together at this time of the year. 


Our mood lightens, as do our menus. We switch from heavier, heartier meals to items we can cook and enjoy al fresco, which is just a fancier way of saying we eat outside, while kids take drive-by bites in between cartwheels and dance-offs!  

The saying goes, Hope springs eternal, and my wish each Spring is to slow down, take more in, be more present in the moment, and maybe switch to white wine!