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My Patio Plans this Spring (Include Snakes)

By 04/13/2014February 2nd, 201755 Comments

We have lived in our new house in the country for exactly two years now. We took possession in the middle of April in 2012. First, we renovated the interior and replaced the kitchen. Then last Spring at the end of April 2013, we totally ripped out the front and back yard. 

White Tulips

So it’s taken two years but I’m finally having the experience of Spring like so many of you, I’ve never been as fascinated with watching shrubs and plants turn green in my entire life (since most of my life I’ve rented). My tulips are up and you can tell where the warmest section of the yard is because that’s where they’re already blooming.

Also we’ve had many beautiful weekends that have been rain free this winter. If you read my blog, you’ve known me to get real tired of the rainforest we live in. So it’s really fun to be able to actually enjoy an outdoor deck for once!


Do you see the plastic snakes among the tulips? We’ve thrown them around our yard in hopes of preventing the neighbourhood cats front using our garden beds as a litter box.

Unfortunately, the cats just kicked dirt right on top of them and they manage to scare us and our guests more than anyone else ; ) ; )

Hey, I almost forgot, our decorative, concrete urn has arrived (above). With delivery and taxes it came to almost $400 including the pedestal. I thought that was a great price given all my searching on the web. I ended up finding it locally here.

MaryAnne, my Landscape Architect nailed it again. It would certainly never have occurred to me to install a decorative urn in front of my living room window. I’m going to fill it with succulents per her suggestion. I planted succulents in pots beside my front door last year and loved them!

Anyway, our deck was a really bad do-it-yourself job by the previous homeowners and although I would dearly love to rip it out immediately because I’m impatient, the problem with doing that is that it would be hard to replace the siding once a new deck was installed.

So, I’m living with it for now and I’ve become obsessed with patio furniture and getting it decorated for entertaining and enjoying now that we have a beautiful yard to look at.

And there’s so much you can do with decor to distract the eye from ugly surroundings, so that is my plan.

The best part about our deck is that in the summer, it’s sunny all day long! The sun hits our deck on the East side first thing and then is there until it sets.

I already bought the Provence sectional from Restoration Hardware in Verte. I’m sitting on it right now writing this post listening to the birds chirping and kids playing in the neighborhood.

Green pillows


I’m keeping the colour scheme green, white & natural outside because all my flowers are white. I spotted these outdoor pillows at Target and also picked up these two (below) from Pottery Barn on Saturday. The natural one and I LOVED the one with the geometric drawings with PLANT written on it.

Pottery Barn Pillows

Then I bought this dining set from the Pottery Barn, it arrives in two weeks – Hooray!

Pottery Barn Dining


Along with green and white striped chair cushions:

Pottery Barn Chair Cushion

Then I purchased two outdoor area rugs, one for underneath the sectional and the other for the dining room area.


Then for lighting, I’m getting these 100 ft European style string lights that I’m going to install underneath the roof of my patio. It will look a little like this:

Patio Lighting


I’m hoping again to distract the eye from our bad deck!

Are you decorating outside yet?

Related posts:

Ignorance is Truly Bliss: Before & After

My Design Studio: Before, During and After

Danger: Your Designer has Left the Building

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in the door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want and to make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 


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  • Sarah says:

    Everything sounds lovely!

    We had a terrible time with neighborhood cats using the flower bed next to our front door. It was awful!! We tried all kinds if suggestions: chicken wire, cayenne pepper, repellent spray – nothing worked and I was scooping the neighborhood litter box regularly. The only thing that worked was a Scarecrow motion detector sprinkler. We positioned it so it didn’t spray our front walkway, but the sound of it startled newcomers. Ultimately we created a front patio area in the space 🙁

  • Louise says:

    I LOVE all your choices! We are thinking outdoor sprucing up right now because our oldest daughter asked us to host her engagement party this summer. It’s interesting that my husband and I don’t think our yard is very nice but our daughter loves it here so much that she wants such a special party here. Perspectives!
    Could you post more about the lighting? A link please?

  • Ursula says:

    Everything’s looking so lovely and fresh.

    My dad had lovely beds surrounding the house I grew up in, even on the north side, didn’t use mulch, so the neighborhood cats loved the soft, cultivated dirt. What worked for him was mothballs!

    • Kathryn says:

      Mothballs do work. They will keep rabbits out of vegetable beds, as well. Just remember that they are poison and will kill any animal that eats them. Cats, rabbits, birds, babies. So, if you use mothballs, be careful. Encase them in something that allows the odor to get out but nothing more.

  • Parisgirl says:

    Ahh! The tulips, aren’t they lovely and so worth the work involved….tulip envy. The snakes made me smile as we have real snakes… smile there. A few years back we would find the odd python skin but since the massive floods of Feb 2011 we have had several far more dangerous than pythons. They scare the living day lights out of me. One of the challenges of living in a warm part of Australia. That and not being able to grow tulips.

  • laurie says:

    Tulips blooming? I thought Canada was cold? I live in Michigan and the flowers are not even thinking of popping up.

    • Joanne says:

      We’re in BC on the coast. The temps are moderate here. My hellebores have being flowering for over a month. And of course, the tulips and daffodils are nodding their heads in the sun.

  • Maggi K says:

    Hi Maria, try egg shells for the cats and other furries. They don’t like walking on the broken shells. Hope it works. We had rats – far worse!

  • Mora Richmond says:

    Are you putting a rug on a wooden deck?
    Love your cushions.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes but I couldn’t find the link online so I’ll post the after photo with them.

      • Mora Richmond says:

        Are you not concerned that a wet rug sitting on a wooden deck will cause the wood to rot ?

        • Maria Killam says:

          That is a good question, our deck is completely covered I think outdoor rugs are like outdoor fabrics and cushions, the water is designed to go right through them and dry quickly so I’m guessing it’s not a problem although I haven’t had any experience with rain, a wood deck and a rug.

  • Loribeth says:

    Hi Maria! Love your choices! I thought about going with green cushions for our patio furniture. I’m just not sure, because green is the theme inside the house.

    We started cleaning up the yard this weekend, but a huge storm rolled through that put that activity to an end. Other than that, everything is in the planning stages.

    My irises have started popping up from the ground, but nothing is blooming yet. Heck, we still have some snow on the ground!! Hopefully, that will be gone by the end of the week.

    I wintered my Boston ferns in my friend’s basement, and I’ll be bringing those home next Sunday. I’ve never done that before, so I’m curious how they will do.

    Can’t wait to see how your patio looks when you’re done!

  • I love that “plant” pillow and am going to try and hack it myself. Couldn’t be too hard to find a graphic like that.

    A question: where did you get the European style lights? I need some for my daughter’s wedding.

  • gdcall says:

    Beautiful! On the lighting, I found that Ballard Designs has great outdoor string lights (and similar to above). We have the European style string lights (without the cover). Work great and last a long time.

  • Debbie says:

    Try plastic forks buried upside down so the prongs are just poking out of the ground. Cats hate it. Inexpensive too.

  • Ging says:

    $400 for the urn & stand??? Should have gotten one in the middle of the night – they’re everywhere!!!

  • Cynthia says:

    I am interested what color wicker you chose, chalk, terre, brown or grey??? Wondering what you think is most timeless???

  • Kari says:

    Do you have gutters in front of your living room window? If the urn is in your roof’s drip line, it will (over time) chip away at the concrete. That happened to our concrete bench because we didn’t have gutters diverting the rainwater.

  • franki says:

    Hey…are you having FUN yet…why, YES you are!! EnJOY!! franki

  • nora says:

    We had cats in our garden area and put down bark. It keeps them from using the garden area. They can’t scratch the dirt and they don’t like the feel on their feet. It looks pretty on the ground too. Love all your ideas, I’m re-doing a kitchen family room area and I’m looking back on all your great ideas. Thanks

  • Hi Maria,

    We are SO getting the itch to get our patio ready. It’s been a very long winter here in Calgary!

    We recently bought a new patio set and a fire table (the nights can get very cool here – mountain air).

    We went with a Wicker L-shape sectional and a black fire table. We can’t wait for it to arrive and start using the great outdoors! I’m just hoping we don’t get any more snow!

    Curious – where did you purchase your outdoor area rugs?

    • Janice Waterman says:

      Hello! I’ve purchased several indoor/outdoor rugs from the last few years for both outdoors and inside kitchen and hallway. The Courtyard Collection by Safevieh are great. They don’t break into a million plastic bits like the recycled pop bottle ones do. Avoid them!

  • Elaine Hamann says:

    Love your plans, and perfect timing as I’m looking to do my patio too! :-). What’s the best, simplest way to keep patio cushions looking clean and fresh so people want to still sit on them throughout the summer? I know they’re supposed to be washable but does simple hosing really do it?

  • celeste says:

    Please, please, please. Tulips and daffodils should never be planted in straight rows. They look horrible. They look much better in groups. Next year, dig holes about 18 inches across and plant them in groups or clusters. They look infinitely better. Think about a mantle; you don’t want your decorative bits all lined up equally spaced in a row. Groups are ever so much more interesting. Look at gardening magazines for ideas.

  • Tricia says:

    Very nice Maria! Good job on the tulips. Your garden will start to fill in quickly and it will be so rewarding. We have a very exposed deck that is unbearably bright and hot, so I painted the blinding white siding deep yellow gold, which helped a bit. Then I painted the stucco garage the same. The warm yellow on the garage made a ‘room’ effect in my garden, and since it backs the shadiest spot, inplunked in a simple staggered concrete block patio there last summer, and I’m so excited to furnish and light it very soon! I made some black with cream polka dot pillows for it already 🙂

  • Carol Landt says:

    Beautiful, Maria — I love it all!

  • sandyc says:

    Tulips are my favorite and yours are lovely. And, of course, I love all the green accessories. I’m so glad that Spring has shown up for you so that you can begin to enjoy your beautiful outdoors. Sadly, here in SCW, Arizona, we’ve had Spring all winter long and temps in April have already climbed up to the higher end of the mid-90s. With the snowbirds leaving for the summer, we’re moving toward feeling like living on Mars (we’re blessed in that we still have a grassy greenbelt where’s some of our neighborhoods have killed off all the grass and trees and their “greenbelts” really do look like the rocky surface of Mars with an occasional little cactus strewn about.

    By the way, Maria, delighted to see a pic of your beautiful kitchen featured first on Centsational Girl BOTB 4.11.14. I recognized it immediately and thought I’d opened the wrong email for a minute but there was your “modern beauty” as she pictured some “stunning kitchen makeovers”. Congrats on more exposure.

  • Stacy says:

    I was so worried you were on a snake decorating craze! I have never erased the creepy images of snakes (and python skins and skulls, oh my) displayed in a mega-celebrity’s LA apartment that was featured in a magazine a few years ago.
    Best wishes for a cheerful outdoors!

  • Lucy HAINES says:

    Maria, You did it again!! I can’t wait to see the finished product on a future blog. The green that you chose is so happy and I just love it.
    One of the remarks above is interesting and I have never thought of it before. It is about grouping your flowers. Makes sense.

  • Susan says:


    You are extremely lucky that tulips are blooming. I live in Wisconsin and this morning I awoke to 3 inches of snow and slushy ice! I’m beginning to think we will never have a Spring. Your choices are beautiful and your patio is going to look amazing once all the furniture arrives. I especially love the PLANT pillow from Pottery Barn!

  • bfish says:

    All of your choices for furnishing your patio look great, Maria! I’m very partial to green and white too. If I may make one suggestion, it’s to install full-length outdoor drapes flanking your columns. This would really dress things up but not too fancy. You might even want to pull them shut at night sometimes, making you feel like you’re in a billow-y tent. With your lighting strings, this could look quite charming.

    There are plenty of neighborhood cats marauding about in our yard day and night. Our biggest concern is that they kill songbirds. Fortunately, our yard is so big that I have yet to encounter one of their “gifts” when digging in our many planting beds, but am sure the day will come and I won’t be happy . . . too bad they don’t hunt snakes instead of birds and chipmunks; we do have an abundance of reptiles.

  • Amy says:

    Would you please talk about the material selections and decision process for the driveway, walkway and patio. Are they slate and concrete? We live in Florida and plan to replace our concrete as well. We are considering pavers. I keep asking myself, “Would Maria think these are bossy?”

    Can’t wait to hear your advise as we need to decide about this soon. Thank you!

  • Victoria says:

    Sounds beautiful, Maria! So happy that you two are happy in your beautiful country home. Your special touch has created a colorful sanctuary. Love seeing the photos of everything you have accomplished there. Can’t wait to see photos of the patio and not so pretty deck! Ha! We just purchased a new patio dining set. Gave our old one away to one of our children for their patio. I wanted a new round table with more modern seating. We set it up this weekend and enjoyed it and today it is 38 degrees in Texas! Can’t take the grandsons who are visiting out to enjoy it today. Crazy winter weather everywhere this year!

  • Anne says:

    I am looking forward to seeing a picture of that concrete urn when it arrives.

  • Anne says:

    And voila there the urn is!! Sorry just got home from the dentist.

  • Suzan says:

    Wondering where you are ordering the European Patio Lights from ?

  • Kathy says:

    Such pretty choices! Can’t wait to see the “after” photos…

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria,
    Your deck is going to look so nice after all of your deliveries are made & you have everything set up.
    It reached 80 degrees here over the weekend so I did some clean-up outside. But now it’s snowing!!!
    Who knew Mother Nature was such a tease?

  • Laura says:

    hi Maria,
    I’m in Bellingham just south of you and I found that the only place the neighborhood cats would try to use in my yard as their litter box was the dry patch of soil next to a side porch under the eaves. Now I keep it moist by watering it with the hose from time to time and they have gone elsewhere!

  • Laura says:

    oh, and several neighbors discovered that the kitties were really attracted to the dry soil under their above ground decks. They ended up putting lattice around the bottom of the decks so that they didn’t have odors wafting up in the summertime…..

  • JoyceB in Atlanta says:

    It is nice to hear you so euphoric. Your yard already looks beautiful, and your plans for it will make it even lovelier. Will tulips return every year in your area or do you have to replant? I love the rows of tulips in front of the house. Sometimes it is nice to have the formality of rows, and I think your entry really calls for that look. Clusters under the trees in your back beds would be effective, and maybe you already have them. Tulips are usually short lived, so over the years, you can play around with your arrangements. The urn is such a nice size – deep enough for just about anything you decide to try in it. Your hard work is paying off!!

  • mairi says:

    My deck is partly open so I use a large wicker deck box to store the chair and lounge cushions/pillows at night and on rainy days. I found leaving them out in rain took way too long to dry and mildew spots resulted. Lesson learned.
    Your space looks so welcoming Maria, keep those pictures coming!

  • Wow, your outdoor spaces are going to look wonderful! You may have a lot of rain in your neck of the woods, but at least it doesn’t get so hot you can’t stay outside! I live in Kansas, and my deck faces east. The sun is so hot and strong, forget sitting outside until late evening.

  • Susan Telfer says:

    I love the seat cushions. Did you get them from the Pottery Barn store? Online they do not ship to Canada.

  • megeranski says:

    Fun post, as always!

    Had To Share:
    Discovered concrete spray paint last year!

    This means if your exterior is a warm palette, you are not stuck with a ‘cool’ concrete color, or vice versa.

    We got some unattractive landscape bricks last year, that were a cool blue-gray. They clashed badly with the exterior. Got a can of ‘tan’ concrete spray paint, now all is lovely.

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