Dining outdoors is the best dining

Between the four seasons (sometimes in one day) and humidity, I like to joke that Missouri only has about 5 completely perfect days a year. While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, the SoCal weather, specifically in a nearly coastal town like Camarillo was a huge draw for us. We have our house open as much as possible and I never mind the extra dusting. It’s a fair trade off for enjoying the fresh air.

I tell you all of this because the exterior of a house, specifically an area for outdoor dining, was on our wish list during our home search. In fact, we were so enamored with the backyard on a home in Camarillo that we made an offer despite the fact that the house was only 1,400 square feet with a funky layout and much too small kitchen. That’s how hard we fell HAAARD for the backyard.  Thankfully, we didn’t get that house and instead inherited this:

 

Which wasn’t exactly a move-in ready dining area (we tore out the built-in, small, sun drenched exterior table pretty quickly after moving in, but it was potential, and you know how much we love potential! The view above is looking out from our living room. We removed this door and replaced it with French doors, anticipating that some day this space would be our prime outdoor entertainment area. This post will orient you to the outside door placement if you want a refresher.

You won’t see these raised beds in many previous posts because they got pretty gnarly after years of neglect.

So when we hired a crew to clean out our backyard planters, we had them rip these out as well, which gave us the blank slate we were looking for.

Over the months, the design for this space went through many iterations. We considered tiling the whole patio, but eventually settled on a raised deck with a pergola. The space was so long that it gave us a chance to add a built-in seating area, which would allow us to move our fire pit into this entertaining zone.

Construction kicked off with Aaron setting the footings and removing the brick light posts.

After that he framed the deck.

Here’s a look at the built-in benches getting roughed in. This will make a lot more sense a few pictures down.

Next he started adding the electrical and lights.

Before you ask, the deck in the back left of the photo is a kitchen. It is equally drool worthy and will get its own post. For now, let’s focus on lighting. We opted for lots of layers so we could provide the right glow for any occasion. Ambient uplighting comes from these really cool puck lights.

Next up was decking with our favorite outdoor wood: Ipe. We’ve been enamored with this wood since we used it on the garage and fence at the firehouse. It’s a great candidate for California because, among other attributes, it is termite resistant.

We opted for a clean look by covering the whole deck with full boards. You’ll see these lines carried through the rest of the deck when I get those photos up 🙂

Here’s a better shot of the benches. They’re a step down from the deck and sit flush with the yard. The hatch on the left allows for access to necessary electrical bits and will get covered by the cushions.

Then it was time to oil, which is the absolute best day when working with Ipe. Soooooo prettttty!

With the deck in place, Aaron turned his attention to the pergola, which was inspired by Costco. What? Inspiration is all around 😀

While browsing Costco one weekend (remember the days when you could leisurely shop?), we noticed they were selling a pergola kit. It was fairly reasonable and got Aaron thinking that it would be faster and potentially cheaper and easier to use a kit. The Costco option didn’t work due to the size and style, but Aaron turned to the interwebs and found Toja Grid, a modular, sleek pergola system. The hardware pieces allow you to connect 4×4 or 6×6 lumber in a variety of configurations. We opted for 6×6 to give the pergola enough visual weight for the space we planned to cover. The posts and beams got a coat of Sherwin Williams Woodscapes in Black Alder, which is becoming our go to exterior coating and color.

The pieces went together as expected, but we ran into a complete work stoppage when we realized that there was no way for us to safely raise the first set. The height, weight, angles, literally everything were working against us. Once again, the interwebs came to the rescue. Aaron was able to hire a few laborers to do the (literal) heavy lifting and get the pergola in place.

With the structure in place, we started adding in the decor:

  • Table – Design Within Reach 1966 Collection, bought from the local DWR outlet which can be a dangerous place to browse
  • Chairs – Wayfair
  • Pots (various, but lots from HomeGoods) and plants (my favorite is the New Zealand Christmas tree)
  • Lights – Costco
  • Sunshade

Much improved view from our bedroom below:

The fire pit seating got light gray cushions made from Sunbrella fabric.

The daytime photos are stunning, but the evening pictures may be better thanks to the lighting. It’s hard to choose which I like better… I imagine it’s like having children. You appreciate them for different reasons.

Now you can see the layers of lights. String lights keep the overhead lighting from being too heavy and a dimmer allows for brighter light during meals. The uplighting will run the whole perimeter of the deck (which will cover the entire patio – more photos soon!) Downlighting highlights that the dining room is raised and also washes the back of the fire pit seating.

Ok, I lied. I like the evening photos the best. Don’t tell the daytime photos I picked a favorite.

MUCH more to show you out here, including a magazine worthy outdoor kitchen that was Aaron’s first COVID project, which has allowed us to enjoy it all summer.

1 comment
  1. This is so awesome! I can’t wait to see the kitchen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *