Friday, June 8, 2012

My ugly patio

Have an ugly patio story to share?  So do I.  Read my latest column from The Holmes County Bargain Hunter for the whole story.  

The History of my well-loved ugly patio

As much as I don’t enjoy gardening, I seem to have been bitten by a small bug this summer. I’ve been forming ideas in my head, and on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/, which is my favorite online idea place. It’s like a virtual bulletin board that allows you to “pin” pictures, links, etc. to different themed boards. I’m like a kid in a candy shop. Lately I’ve been getting ideas for my back patio. Bear with me as my frugal-minded brain tells you the history of my patio.

It was the summer of 2001. We had owned our house for five years at this point, and the backyard was nothing but grass. I longed for a patio to call my own. A place to put some comfortable chairs and sit to my heart’s content. We decided that we would pour a cement slab and go from there. Now remember, nothing is done easily in the Herrera household and George decided we would build the frame ourselves, order the concrete, and smooth it out – just us. Not knowing enough about concrete, I decided that it was a fine idea. It’s cheaper, right? No paid labor involved. George enlisted the help of a friend and one Saturday morning the concrete trucks arrived. His friend took one look at the size of the frame and the concrete truck and wanted to run. George is nothing if not a person who gets things done, so, undaunted, the concrete started pouring away. 

Flash forward about three hours and voila – we had a new patio. To me, it was a thing of beauty. To a professional concrete person it would have looked like a hot mess. It was a wavy-lined, unsmooth, sea of concrete – and I loved it. We smacked down an octagonal picnic table I nabbed at a local furniture store on clearance for $50, also found two wooden deck chair kits for $12 each at a Dover area store going out of business, and splurged on a green umbrella from Lowe’s. My lovely patio was complete, but not until the requisite basketball hoop was placed in the corner for one my kid’s birthdays. We spent hours out there eating suppers, talking, and paging through magazines. Over the years it’s been the place where the kids have their parties, set up DJ stations, and dance the night away on its rough surface. There have been numerous slam dunk contests on its small square footage and to this day the kids don’t want me to take away the basketball hoop. It’s been a good patio, but its shabbiness has finally gotten to me. 

I am ready for some change. The hoop STILL sits in the corner, used mostly in the summer for random bursts of basketball activity. I told the kids it’s time to take it down and they immediately started whining to save their lives. “Mom, I occasionally ball it up out there!” Hunter lamented. Ignoring him, I continue to make my plans for a splendid “adult” patio. I tell him, “You can kick the soccer ball in the new soccer goal dad’s going to build for you. Tell the hoop adios.” I’m reclaiming my beautiful uneven, pitted surface and am going to beautify to my specifications after 11 long years. 

My plan is as follows:

1) I want to get a thin layer of concrete put over the top to smooth it out. We either want to stamp it or lay exterior tile. I have found piles and piles of great-looking tile at The Habitat Restore in Canton,http://restorestark.org/ – not sure which way we’ll go yet on this. It depends on what the concrete would cost. If the concrete is too much we can always lay the tile ourselves. George has become a pro at this type of work. 

2) I want benches built into the sides. Either concrete or wood, these will be permanent additions to the surface. While we’re at it, huge concrete planters could be built as well. My initial vision for the patio was to have so many containers full of greenery it felt like a jungle. That never happened, so if I can’t get the planters built, I am going on a hunt for the biggest, cheapest planters I can find. I’m lamenting the ones I left behind at Gabriel Brothers about two months ago. They were huge, thick plastic, but looked like cement. It was the look I wanted, but I left them there with their price tag of $9.99 still haunting me. 

3) I want a patio set. I love the mismatched furniture I have now, but I really would like a set of dark wood and red cushions to lounge upon, have brunch, or drink a cocktail on. This will remain to be seen and may have to wait until outside furniture goes on sale. I might be lucky enough to nab a set at a garage sale if I keep my eyes open. Bargain Hunters Unitehttps://www.facebook.com/groups/BHUHolmes/ is a place I will also watch for one. You never know what will show up there. 

4) Lastly, I want a wooden trellis type structure built over half of it. Maybe have some grapevines growing up over it so it feels nice and cozy. George is already on top of this as he’s had ideas for so long. Having the same idea in mind and being able to mesh them together makes for an easy re-do. Here’s to a frugal and hopefully successful revamping of a great space that just needs loved back to life.