The other night Trevor and I were talking about how interesting it was that we hosted friends at the cabin last summer before we had things on our walls or lawn furniture…or grass. Although our friends are pretty great, and completely cool with dirt under foot and giant rafts used as patio seating, this summer we wanted to do some things to make the place feel a little more welcoming. Creating a good side entrance was the first thing on our list. We wanted to soften the hard steel siding exterior and add a little color. Okay, maybe I wanted to do these things more than Trevor, but he was a good sport and did the heavy lifting with the project. We certainly had the common goal of camouflaging the septic tank access, which is located right where people walk toward the side entry. Below are some pictures of the simple and inexpensive steps we took to up our game a little bit from last summer.
First goal for the side yard? Hide the septic tank (well, the access to it). I used three large planters of various heights and shapes – two galvanized planters from Ikea, and the red one is from our garage at home, which I freshened up with a quick coat of spray paint left over from other projects. In these and other planters I combined daylilles for height, mint for foliage that is resistant to squirrels and other critters (and pretty great to have handy for summer cocktails!), and bright annuals for pops of color. The pavers that we used for the walkway and the small patio area outside the door are from Menards.
Why is it that benches always look so inviting? This one from Ikea is only around $100 and was super easy to put together. I purchased it thinking I would paint it red, but it was really nice that day and I wanted to finish the project more efficiently and get back enjoying the lake! Turns out, I’m really glad I left it as is – I think the crisp white helps to brighten up the space. For the large planter I purchased a garbage can at Home Depot. Pillow is from Pottery Barn, and certainly the only splurge purchase in the space (check out these cute outdoor pillow options on sale here, here and here).
One of my first posts was the painted oars from last summer (link here) and the project continues to be one of my favorites. I repeated the idea here, as a fun way to add color and build height to the corner of the space, which helps to frame the area. To see steps for the painted oars, check out the link above. My best advice with that project is to plan ahead. I draw out the oars and mark off the colors on a piece of paper first, so I can figure out the most efficient way to paint in stages (see below).
I painted a long, narrow bench that has sat unused in our garage for years a cherry red to sit over the water spigot and to add some interest to the blank space between the windows.
I love the variation of color in these Zinnias, and how they bloom continuously.
Reality Check. This was an exercise in “less is more.” Well, more an exercise of “get this done relatively quickly and get back out on the lake.” I mention above the skipped step with painting the bench. I also nixed distressing the oars and an idea I had for rope around the large garbage can. I was happy that day to have things completed ahead of schedule, and even happier to learn that after living with it for a while, I like the result much better than had I gone the extra effort with some of the items.