My New Obsession for Outdoor Decor...

kswl2June 6, 2012

We have an outdoor patio area that is sort of dark, as it is recessed about 20 feet. We had "deckbrella" put on the underside of the screened porch above it to lighten up the space and make it feel more like an outdoor room. But the 10 foot brick walls were dauntingly resistant to my attempts to make them look better with metal plaques, iron candle sconces and the like. I finally found a museum banner for the screened porch after years of looking, and then got lucky just a few months later with a John Constable exhibition banner! I bought two and hung them side by side, the front of one and back of the other form a diptych. They're 8 feet tall and I think they really brighten up this area. The banners depict part of a very large painting called The Hay Wain, and that pastoral scene is reflected out in the yard opposite from them.

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Those are great, kswl, and what a clever idea to use exhibition banners!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Gorgeous -- and I adore Constable's artworks!

Very elegant!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:14PM
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That is such a great idea, and it really does brighten it up.
Lovely back area.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:23PM
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That is such a great idea, and it really does brighten it up.
Lovely back area.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:25PM
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What a wonderful idea! It adds the much needed lightness you were looking for and actually gives the trompe l'oeil affect of a large window looking out on a lovely pastoral scene. Bravo!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:38PM
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That looks wonderful! I am having similar difficulty decorating the bare brick walls of our covered porch...what a clever idea!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:50PM
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What a great idea! It looks great.

How/where did you find the banners?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 1:21PM
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That looks really nice!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Nice job!

I have a patio area similar to yours that I need to "lighten" up. My patio is half under roof, half open - at one time the roofed part was a carport. It has two bricked sides - the back of the house and the end that goes into a laundry/mud room, thus creating a dark hole with very little air flow. I am installing an outdoor fan to help with the airflow and trying to lighten it up with some things on the wall.

I followed your thread when you were doing the aggregate concrete and am really interested in doing that. It appears in your patio picture that you have the aggregate there also - am I correct? I currently have brick pavers (mortared - not embedded in sand) and the mortar is cracking and deteriorating to the point that several of the bricks are totally loose.


Did you have a dye put in the concrete as well as the colored stones? I went back and looked at your pictures you posted of your walks and they look gray - is that the natural color or dye? I recently had a concrete "apron" poured in front of my separate garage and it is so WHITE.

Is it very slippery when wet?

Is it easy to clean (water hose/pressure washer)?? We live in the country, have outside pets, DH "plays in the mud".

TIA for any input you might have.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 4:04PM
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I love it! It's so unique.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 4:29PM
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Thanks for these nice comments! Happyintexas, I bought them from a company called BetterWall. They have arrangements with many museums to clean and refurbish the banners, and return some of the money back to the institutions upon each sale.

Tuesday, to answer your questions: Yes, we did do the exposed aggregate in variable sized river stones. Overall, I'm happy with it, but not using stones all the same size means it is anything but uniform and I've made my peace with that. We had it sealed at first and I HATED the way it looked, so I paid a third party to strip the sealant off... don't ask. We thought about coloring the concrete, but to keep that looking nice we would have had to re-seal, and I just did not like that fake "wet" look. Occasionally stones pop out and I am okay with that, too. Supposedly the sealant keeps the stones in the concrete but I'm not sure I believe that since the sealant doesn't penetrate the substrate.

Personally, I think our patios will look better as the concrete ages and becomes whiter. The key is to have white stones included in your aggregate mix. Once they're all in it won't appear so blinding. But our concrete was your basic gray to start with.

We haven't found the surface to be slippery at all, and are kind of puzzled why so many say that about exposed aggregate. Most people are talking about the little tiny pea gravel sized stones when they think aggregate though, and maybe that IS slippery?

We live in the country too! Dogs, snakes, dirt, bird poop, you-name-it-we-got-it. We have only had to clean it once (besides blowing it off with a blower) with water, and did that just with a hose sprayer. [We have a pressure washer but I find pressure to be pretty destructive in almost every situation (bricks, wood, even concrete).]

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 5:55PM
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It looks so good!! I love the brick and the beautiful posters.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:18PM
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I think it just looks wonderful!!! I chuckle as I have a Jasper Johns flag banner on my screened porch in Maine. I needed light too. I'll trade lol, I love the Constable better. What a lovely place you've made with your unique ideas.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:53PM
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wonderful! Just the thing I've been looking for ... thanks!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 11:07PM
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They're about the only thing that isn't going to degrade in bad weather, so they're perfect for outside. DH and I both love museums and I especially love those huge Constable landscapes--- the original of this is six feet high!

Now I am looking for smaller ones for the kids' apartments and dorm rooms that reflect their interests. I've already got my eye on an Asian exhibit banner for one of the boys.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:19AM
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It looks amazing!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:38AM
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I absolutely adore what you've done. It looks awesome. I've checked out the site and have my eye on one. Are they in reasonably good condition and do they hang fairly flat on the wall? I'd like mine for indoor use. I think they make such a statement. Thanks so much for posting.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 8:34AM
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Old house, the 3 we have arrived in very good condition, considering they've hung outside for up to a year. They were all very clean, and come with dowels to insert in the rod pockets where they were secured top and bottom on an outdoor standard.

The dowels have eye bolts in the ends and there are fasteners to the wall that then hook into those eye bolts, which secures the banner and keeps it about an inch off the plane of the wall. It's a very easy hanging solution and really doesn't show. Our Handy Guy put them up in a matter of minutes.... Practically instant gratification :-)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:15AM
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kswl, I've been wondering what to do with the spot below for a few years. It is a small and shady raised bed at the end of our urban backyard patio, the door to the right leads to the garage.

The wall you see is our neighbour's house. I've just planted some ferns and will add more over the next week or two, it is a work in progress. By next year I should have some 3 or 4' tall ferns in there, it will be quite lush. I had been thinking of a mural (with our neighbour's permission of course), but now I'm thinking that one of the banner's on the wall above the ferns might be a great idea, and probably simpler and cheaper. What do you think?

Some late blooming peonies I'm enjoying at the moment:

Virtually my entire modest back yard is a wonderful city garden. A couple of pictures below. I just built a raised bed and planted vegetables for the first time this year. A little late in planting, but my kids (4 & 7) had fun and we'll no doubt have a decent harvest by August and into September.

The lettuce doesn't usually sit on the fountain ...

Here are some of the banners that DH and I like - almost all very different from the other:

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Sochi, I adore that Georgia O'Keefe banner and I also really like the one directly after that, which I don't immediately recognize. Both are flower/ garden themes that would really lend themselves to your outdoor setting! The others are nice also---honestly, I haven't seen one that I didn't like--- but don't seem to fit your setting as much. But people may have an affinity for a particular museum, a school of painting, a particular artist or country, or even a style of furniture... imo these are all about what speaks to the individual interests of the owners :-)

The lost kingdom is one I have my eye on for our younger son; he is an actor and the very first play he was in was at age four, as the youngest prince in The King and I. He also loves all things Asian.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 12:56PM
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The flower ones (particularly the O'Keefe) would be the best fit, I agree. The Chagall (I didn't paste it above) would work well inside my home, on a high wall at the top of a stair case. You've created a monster kswl, thank you! A great outdoor obsession.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:25PM
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The floral banners I meant, not the "flower ones". Argh. Stems from too much conversation with four year olds I think.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:31PM
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I love your Contables KSWL. I remember when you posted these last time, I considered some for my pool area. But I would probably need three for it to look right and I didnt see three I liked together.

Sochi, the Okeefe is perfect. Love your peonies; is there a lovelier flower?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:00PM
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Sochi, it's perfectly legal and non-fattening, at least :-)

Mtn, it look me YEARs to find the three I have. I checked the website fairly often for new ones, and now I am on the email alert list. God forbid I should not know about something new, lol. I do still miss living in Manhattan, even after all these years, and the banners at the Met and the Natural History museums are THE iconic city images to all of us. I've got no place for more of these myself now--- enough is as good as a feast, they say---but I fantasize about them in an art deco condo we are looking at in Miami Beach.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:43PM
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