Episode #31: Outdoor Spaces

This week’s episode is all about outdoor spaces—one of the things that is bringing us so much joy during this time! We’ve both been working on some outdoor space projects this season, so in this episode we’ll share our progress, opinions about outdoor furniture purchases and also there’s a very embarrassing story at the end. AUGH.

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show notes: 
-Back story … we share how I loved having two porches on our first home, which you can see a bit of here.

-We planned to build a porch on our last home, but we never did. You can see the outdoor spaces of that home here. It did have an epic sunroom, though.

-You can see photos of Emma’s outdoor space here.

-Our new porch: before + after …

BEFORE (this is how it looked when we bought the home) AFTER
We did quite a bit to this porch, of which I’ll be sharing all the details in a tour this month (just waiting on our fire table to arrive and then I’ll snap some photos!).

-Here’s a progress photo of the holiday house deck. Emma is getting closer to finishing it!

-When I showed our porch on IG I heard you *LOUD AND CLEAR* that your biggest concern is “How will this age??” and “Do you have to bring the cushions inside?” Here are ALL our opinions about making the best choice for you!

Choose colors that are fade-friendly (I avoid bright/dark colors now). We think it’s important to accept that things will get dirty and worn over time. So try to imagine items after a few seasons of use and see if you feel OK with that.

My very strong belief with all furniture, not just outdoor, is that you shouldn’t buy it if you can’t handle it aging and becoming imperfect. There needs to be a lifespan for furniture that exceeds its day-one condition. One way I make myself feel better about this is buying items I believe I can clean myself (that’s why I no longer buy synthetic rugs—they’re not easy to clean). So when I picked our outdoor seating, I made sure the cushion covers zipped off so I can wash them myself.

Another attitude shift that has helped me is being ready for, and embracing marks and imperfections. This goes for everything in my home, and especially for outdoor items. This is how I’m able to buy an expensive rug or sofa … I have made a deal with myself that when my children inevitably give it some “personality” that it won’t ruin my day. I know this may sound silly to some, but it’s helped me create a home that is 100% child friendly without buying stuff I don’t like just because I feel I’m supposed to. I am not a fan of the attitude that you should buy items your kids can’t mess up, even if you don’t love them. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.

Anyway, prepare yourself that no outdoor furniture will stay 100% perfect, and that is OK.

Here are some pieces we purchased for our spaces (or thought about along the way …)

Exciting note! Article has provided us this link where first-time customers can get $50 off a purchase of $200 or more! 

A few Article pieces we love:

Lucra Sofa Set

Tavola Dining Table

Dark Gray Bar Cart

Aloe Green Dining Chair

Plants + decor: I look for plants that are easy to maintain and that I’m happy to bring in to our home all winter. We’re also embracing a less-is-more vibe for our porches in order to reduce waste and give our children more space to play.

-Fire table … we were on the fence, but we splurged for this fire table. I’m so excited to make s’mores!

-I can’t find the link to the exact kids pool we’ve used in past summers, but this is close.

I’ll leave the embarrassing story in the podcast. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE PODCAST STAYS IN THE PODCAST. 🙂

Check out our favorite outdoor spaces (with before and afters) and our roundup of outdoor furniture!

Shout out to the The Office Ladies podcast, which I’ve been listening to on my runs.

XX! Elsie + Emma

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 31 Transcript

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. Today, we’re celebrating spring with an episode that’s all about outdoor spaces. We’ll also chat about some ways to spend time outdoors with spring and summer on our mind. Oh, and today’s Embarrassing Story Day, because something really, really awkward just happened to me. (laughs)

Emma: Your fake laugh at yourself, is excellent.

Elsie: Wait till you hear it. Because you haven’t heard it yet.

Emma: No, I haven’t.

Elsie: And I can’t wait to tell you because it’s really bad. Well, OK.

Emma: All right. So outdoor spaces. So at your last house, I’m trying to remember your outdoor spaces.

Elsie: We didn’t have any!

Emma: Yeah. I mean, you had the playhouses, but you didn’t really have a deck or really much of a porch, so.

Elsie: Yes. OK. So backstory. So two houses ago, our first home Jeremy and I bought together in Missouri, we had a front porch and a back porch. It was an early nineteen hundreds historic home and we loved them. And Missouri is very mosquito-y. So we didn’t spend all our time out there once it hits a certain time in spring. It’s just like mosquito hell.

Emma: Yeah

Elsie: And neither of them were a covered porch, but we just we loved having them. And then, you know, for fall, we had Fourth of July parties. There’s just so many good memories out there. And then when we moved to Tennessee to our home that you guys know, we lived in for the last five years. It didn’t have a porch. And that was a dealbreaker for me. I was like, I will only about his house if we build a porch. And we agreed together to build the porch. And then every year due to either the budget or the time commitment or not making up our mind yet, whatever, we didn’t do it. And in the end, it was like, well, maybe this house just isn’t meant to have a porch. But I feel like we really learned from both those houses that outdoor space is extremely important to us. We did have a sunroom, which was nice.

Emma: Yeah. You had a sunroom.

But it’s not the same thing at all as spending time outside. So anyway, so when we were house shopping this time, it was one of the big things on our list was that we wanted to have, you know, a front and a back porch was my number one or just a great porch either way. But it was a priority.What about you?

Emma: Yeah. I am still in Missouri. And so wait. So do you have mosquitoes in Nashville? You do. Right?

Elsie: Yes. But it’s not as bad here. There’s little differences like our climates are very similar. We live about seven and a half hours apart…four seasons, the temperature’s not that different, but Missouri, it snows a lot more. I think it’s a much more beautiful autumn. And the mosquitoes are 1000 times worse.

Emma: Yeah, the mosquitoes are pretty epic here. And my house is like up behind our backyard as a forest. So I feel like it’s even worse just because it’s not really like tended to.

Elsie: Emma has true wildlife in her backyard.

Emma: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Even more the mosquitoes we have. I mean, I see deer and all sorts of things but…which the deer are pretty. But some of the other things like giant snakes are not as fun. But yeah, the mosquitoes are pretty crazy. So I think that’s a big thing for us. It feels like. So we have our back porch, we have a screened in area and then we have a covered area. But it’s not screened in and the screened in area. We have our hot tub in there. And obviously in the winter, there’s no mosquitoes.

Elsie: It’s right off her master bedroom, which is really cool.

Emma: Yeah. There’s like three doors that lead to our backyard with throughout our house, one’s in our master bedroom, one’s in our TV living room. And then one’s in the main living/dining area.

Elsie: I think it’s very romantic to have a hot tub right off your master bedroom. Someday I would like to have a screened in a situation like that.

Emma: I love it. When we have friends over…That’s the only thing is when we have friends over. If they’re going to come in the hot tub too with us, then I have to make sure our bedroom’s picked up. Just didn’t leave any underwear out or something. (laughs)

Elsie: I understand that. Remember in our old house, we had sort of a living room that was sort of in our bedroom.

Emma: Yes. Yes.

Elsie: It’s like a whole thing.

Emma: Yeah. It’s like you feel like you have to really pick up if someone’s gonna come over and watch a movie or something. Anyway, I feel like we use our outdoor area so much more in the winter because of the hot tub and the lack of mosquitoes.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: But part of me is like maybe I need to make a little seating area in the screened in area because I think that would help, or I just need to figure out a better solution for the mosquitoes.

Elsie: That’s a good idea, just to like sit somewhere, have somewhere to sit and have a drink or chat or have coffee in the morning, I think is really nice.

Emma: Yeah, we do have a little like area right now. We just don’t use it a ton. And I don’t — I can’t really explain why. I think we just never got in the habit? And we’ve lived in the house now like five years and we just just didn’t get in the habit.

Elsie: That is a real thing that happens. Since we just moved, I’ve been thinking about that. I think it’s really important to start using your spaces how you want to use them as soon as possible so that you don’t get in a routine where you stop seeing spaces like people get into routines where they don’t use certain rooms of their house or almost ever. We had one of those in our old house and it was so sad because it was such a beautiful room and we spent a lot of money renovating it and we just did not use it as a family almost ever.

Emma: Yeah. It’s funny how those little habits come about, because I remember when we bought this house, we definitely thought we would spend a lot of time in our backyard and we really haven’t. It’s – it has a few challenges, like it’s very muddy and some things like that. But I also feel like we we could figure it out. We just haven’t. For whatever reason.

Elsie: You could fix that.

Emma: Yeah. So anyway, so we definitely have an area. But I would say it’s under utilized. So.

Elsie: Ok. So this week’s episode is all about outdoor spaces. So you guys have probably seen a little tiny bit on Instagram that I’ve been working on my porch. So we have a double porch and the first one we did is the top one, which kind of walks out from our kitchen and living room area. And then the bottom one is, it’s another living room where like our TV and stuff is and that one is a covered porch. So I’m going to do that one second. I just kind of wanted to like focus on one and completely finish it and then move on to the next one. And then Emma has been renovating our porch at our Springfield BMB.

Emma: Mm hmm. Yep. And make it…it already had a cute little back deck that was really very spacious for the neighborhood. It has a pretty big backyard, but it just wasn’t…it needed some things that…it didn’t have any furniture, it wasn’t power washed. You know.

Elsie: It’s such a cute house. And I think last Halloween when we had our little haunted house party, we realized that like this back porch needs to have a fire pit on it. Next Halloween, you know, it needs it needs some lights.

Emma: Some chairs (laughs) needs some stuff. Yeah. So we’ve been working on that.

Elsie: Yes. I have a few different categories of things I want to chat about today. So the first thing is budget friendly. Refresh ideas. So I have a post that is forthcoming. I don’t think it’ll be out before this episode goes up, but it’ll be out within the next couple weeks. And it explains how we completely redid our upper deck. And this is just talking about like the renovation part of it, not the furniture. But it was once we added all up, it was only about a thousand dollars, which I was like. That’s pretty good. I mean, I know that money is totally relative, but I feel like taking a deck where you’re not thrilled with it and making it into something that you absolutely love for a thousand dollars felt pretty good to me.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: So. Okay. A few of the things. These are just some tips, things that we did and things that you could try. The first one is power washing. So if you’ve never rented a power washer, it is the most magical thing. You’ll be shocked. How different a deck or even the exterior of your house will look from power washing. It’s unbelievable. It’s one of my favorite things to watch.

Emma: You can also buy them. They are affordable. But it’s also…I’ve only used one like twice since we’ve lived at our house. So I rent it because I don’t want to store it. We don’t have like an extra shed for like lawn care stuff or anything. So it’s more a storing thing for me. But you can totally buy one if you feel like you’ll use it like at least once a month. I would probably just go ahead and buy it.

Elsie: We do own one that we use pretty frequently, especially like before a photo shoot or something, but we rented one to do this first really big because it’s like the really, really powerful one. It looked pretty bad when we bought the house, so we wanted to get everything off and kind of see what we had to work with. The next step is to paint painters stain. We did a combination of painting and staining on our deck and I’m not going to lie. It took a lot of time, but I mean, it was quarantine month and we did have time to spend and a lot of it was therapeutic because having a project like the very first week we spent almost like, oh my gosh, we need a project. Like my husband and I didn’t even care that we had to switch off basically like babysitting. And then the other person works and then you switch and you switch and switch. It’s fine. It’s worth it to just have something to do. That’s kind of like giving your day a purpose. Yeah. And then the next thing is refreshing plants. So if there’s anything dead or, you know, a bush from last year, I don’t know what your deck situation is, but dead plants have to go. And then bring in some living plants or fake plants. But we’re gonna do a whole mini episode about fake plants.

Emma: Yes.

Elsie: The mini episodes today is about fake plants, which I think will be fun. Okay, the next thing is to minimize. Donate anything isn’t useful to you or bringing you joy. So lawn furniture sucks, right? Like it is so exciting and beautiful and amazing, but it’s not going to last forever. And some of…I guess some of it can and I do have some tips for finding the longest possible lasting and taking good care of it that I’ll share in this episode. But lawn furniture is going to get bad and sometimes and once in a while it might break your heart. So just going ahead and letting things go. Donating things, we do a lot of the Craigslist free situation right now since it’s quarantine time. That’s like basically our only way to get rid of something. And yeah. So if it’s not useful. Not beautiful. Not bringing you joy. Let it go. And the other tip I have is to design around what you have. So find ways to upgrade what you already have. So I’m assuming that you’re not in a new build or you’re designing it from absolute scratch like I was. I bought this house. It had a great deck, but it wasn’t perfect. And it had these like decorative rails that were actually really far apart. And our baby immediately tried to stick her head through them, which, by the way, she could, because they were not safe. They were much too far apart. And they were just, in my opinion, ugly. And I’ve had a lot of readers say that they thought they were beautiful. But yeah, it wasn’t my favorite style. So we decided to design around what we had by just ripping off just the rails and replacing just the rails. And it ended up being something that didn’t take a ton of time and a ton of money, but made a very big difference in the design of our deck. So I will post the before and after picture in the show notes so you can kind of see how crazy like it’s a pretty dramatic before and after for the time and money we spent on it because it felt like it went by pretty quickly.

Emma: Yeah. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about furniture. So maybe this is a transition piece, but budget friendly stuff, I will say one thing is lighting because a lot of time you’re going to spend time in your outdoor area probably as it’s cooling off. So like as the sun is setting things like that and lights, outdoor lights can be expensive. You can go the extra mile and get things on a timer and get things solar and, you know, all sorts of things. But you can also do some very budget friendly, you know, little Christmas lights, twinkle lights that are outdoor friendly and have pretty maximum impact. And I think that’s one way to like enjoy your space for what it is without spending almost hardly any money, really.

Elsie: Yeah, that’s true. On our bottom deck, we’re doing twinkle lights and on our top deck we replaced the lighting that was there. It was kind of like old fashioned lantern looking and our house is mid-century, so we wanted to just do something that matched the house a little more. And the new lights were only like $30 and they’re modern and they’re white and they’re brand new. And it just felt a lot more fitting to the house. I wanted to share about one of my little heartbreaks in the past. And we’re gonna jump into furniture shopping tips now because I posted last weekend a picture of our new deck and it’s like halfway done. It’s not even finished yet, but I just was so excited that I don’t know, I couldn’t help it. And I posted a picture and so many of the comments were about if it’s weather proof. If you have to bring the pillows in every time it rains. If it’s going to last, things like that, like if you have to use covers. So I want to talk all about that, because I do think that finding something that you can live with, how it wears is the most important thing. So like upfront number one, there’s no outdoor furniture that’s going to stay absolutely perfect forever. I just don’t believe that exists unless you want to do like an all metal set and you like respray paint it every year or something like that. Maybe, but I don’t want all metal outdoor furniture only like I like the plush pillows and I like the, you know, the comfort of it. So in my opinion, here’s what I did. I chose the best thing I could. I stuck with neutral colors because things can fade. Fading to me is worse than something getting dirty because of something. It’s dirty. You can figure it out. Like I have so much determination, last year we hand washed one of those 11 x 14 rugs, those Moroccan rugs like we hand washed it outside in my yard with a hose. And it worked. It totally works. Like I feel like you can wash something if it gets dirty, but if it fades like that’s that. So, in my first home, we bought these sort of expensive Acapulco chairs, which I’m obsessed with. Actually, I just bought more, but they’re white this time. So I bought them in orange and they faded in one season and it was like my soul was ripped out of my body. I was so sad because I had saved up for these chairs and thought about them and sort of like they were like a fantasy chair to me. It was like probably a bigger deal than it needed to be. But, you know, you don’t want something that’s going to immediately break your heart. And then there was no really way to fix them. Like I was trying to find a way to like sort of repair them or restring them and it just didn’t seem…it seemed like they were just gone.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Unless I could just overlook the extreme fading, which I wasn’t able to. So this time I stuck more with neutrals and light colors like we did get some colored chairs, but they were light pink. And I was like, well, if these fade along the tops, which they may, I am fine with that. Like it’s not going to be like an extreme, you know. So I stayed away from brightly colored things and I made sure to get a sofa set that had pillow covers that you could zip off so you can wash them. And that also means that, you know, with either the time of sewing them or the money of hiring someone else so them you could get new ones in a year or two if you needed to. So that is, that’s a couple of things. I feel like I don’t know, just accepting that it’s not supposed to be absolutely, absolutely perfect forever, though, is probably one of the best things.

Elsie: Right. I think too, like you…this is one area where I think you should try to be really honest with yourself and decide, am I the type of person who is going to bring my cushions in all the time or cover this fancy table? Someone might. Someone might be like, I am so into my outdoor space. It’s my number one thing. This is what I want to do. And it’s like, that’s cool. Or also here’s another random example. You know, Elsie and I have BnB houses in Florida. Obviously, we don’t live there. I cannot bring that furniture in often. And our management company is great. But they have a lot of different properties. They’re not going to bring in the furniture all the time. Things like that. So we actually have this very functional. not my favorite look furniture, but it’s definitely going to hold up in that climate. And like even if a guest threw it, threw one of the chairs in a pool, it will still be okay. (laughs) Yeah. And it’s just like, I had to kind of be OK with. “OK. This is not the style I would pick if I could pick anything. But this is going to be super functional for what the space is.” It’s comfortable. It’s gonna work. And I picked a color that I thought was cute. But ultimately, you know, when Trey saw them, he was like, “ew”, like he was not excited to spend money on these. But it was, we’re not there. And we need it to be ultra…can withstand anything. And so that’s what we got. And I think you kind of have to know your level on that. Like, am I willing because I have some outdoor furniture that’s metal frames and I bring in the cushions, but we only use it like a few times a month. So it’s kind of easy for me. So I knew like I have a place where I store it and it’s out of the way. And so that’s like my level of I’m OK with this. But I don’t know. It just really depends. Like your lifestyle, how often you’re going to use it if you’re like bringing in the cushions every single night. I mean, that seems like a lot to me.

Elsie: Yeah, I like that plan. Another tip I have is to stick with metal and wood whenever you can and stay away from plastic just because the biggest reason is because you can paint it if it’s metal or wood. And I don’t know about you, but I actually love the feeling of if it’s springtime and I want to refresh our table or whatever. I love the feeling of painting it each year, and that doesn’t bother me. I would way rather do that than have to get a new one over and over.

Emma: Yeah, I agree.

Elsie: I don’t know. I think that setting a budget and then choosing like how to spend it in a way that’s not going to break your heart is the most important thing. Like I’m a really big believer that people shouldn’t live in fear or have anxiety about the stuff in their homes. Like that’s very important to me. I just bought a pink sofa and it’s it’s like a dream of my life. I’m so excited, But I’m already like making a promise in my heart that it’s okay with me when my kids spill something on it. My dogs might even pee on it. Like it sucks, but it’s gonna happen and I’m gonna clean it the best I can and then keep enjoying it. And I think that being able to do that with the things you own is so important.

Emma: Yes, I agree. I always feel so sad whenever a friend comes over. If they spill something or if they come over with their kids or something and, you know, just something gets a little mark on it, and I can just tell that their anxiety. They’re like, “oh my gosh, I ruined your beautiful thing, your your chair, your your dining table,” whatever. And I just always like, oh, no. Like, that’s living, like living is staining things.

Elsie: That makes me proud.

Emma: Living is your dog peeing on stuff, like that’s just what it means to live. And so I think you should only buy stuff that you’re OK with living with it, which is spilling and peeing all sorts.

Elsie: I totally agree. It’s your choice if a rug is somehow ruined for you because it gets something spilled on it.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Yeah. So let’s talk about plants and decor for a little bit. So in our climate, in both of our climates, we have to bring in most of our plants for the winter. There’s like a couple varieties of cactus we can leave outside and a couple varieties of palm plants that we can leave outside. But for the most part, I know that I’m going to have to bring in every single plant that I buy for my porch somewhere in our house, or it’s going to die in the wintertime. So that’s a big factor for me. And so this year, I did buy some plants for the porch, but I kept it a lot more minimal because I didn’t want to overdo like. In the past, we’ve had a couple times when I filled up our sunroom so much with plants and then it was like difficult to find a place for them in your house for winter. So anyway, planning for that I think is good. And then finding plants that are easy to maintain. So I always ask if they can sit in the sun, how much sun, how often to water them if they’re on my porch. Like I say, how…the way my porch is, it’s like basically in the full sun all day long. So I always kind of just ask and make sure that plants can survive in that because not all of them can. And then we decide to keep our decor pretty minimal because our kids need the space for them to run around. And occasionally we let them ride their tricycles out there and things like that, like having that space for us was more valuable than having more stuff. So we did it. We decided not to do an outdoor rug because we have two dogs and I’m just not worth it. We just, I don’t know, we’re keeping it a little more sparse than my designer brain tells me I should. But in real life, it feels really perfect. So do you have any thoughts on that?

Emma: The thing that I’m thinking about is I’m still working on your holiday house, back porch and the furniture is all picked out. And there’s one rug. It’s very neutral. It’s fine if it gets faded. So that back porch doesn’t have any covering. It’s in full sun. And also it’s a it’s a BnB house. And I do live I live about 20 minutes away so I can go there sometimes, but I’m not going to go there every week and like, check it, you know, like bring stuff inside the house and drag it in and out all the time. I just don’t really have that kind of access and time. So anyway, so I do think it’s going to also be kind of sparse in a way. I’m not even sure what to do about plants back there like potted plants, because I well, I really won’t be there to water them. So, I mean, I have a housekeeper, but plants. Yeah, I might put like one fake one in for like when we do the photos for our Web site just to have something. But I actually think I probably won’t put any back there because I just think they’re going to die or if even if they’re fake they’re gonna get faded in the sun really quick. So it’s probably just not meant to be. Which is kind of sad, but.

Elsie: So there was one thing for our porch that we couldn’t decide whether or not to splurge on. And I went back and forth, back and forth. But I ended up doing a poll on Instagram and saying, if you have a fire table, is it worth it? The feedback that we got back was it was such an aggressive yes. So I got so many messages. Everyone who has one loves it and thinks that it really makes the space more usable, especially when it’s still kind of cold in spring. Getting colder and fall stretches out. The season’s kids can do the s’mores and just. Oh. So we finally pulled the trigger and ordered the fire table this week. I end up getting the exact same one that Mandy has. So I will link to it in our show notes. And then once it’s all put together in the next month or so, we’ll be shooting a tour also to share on the blog. But I’m so excited and I’m glad. I don’t know. I feel like every once while you just have to ask all your friends if something’s worth it or not. I was afraid we would never use it. But everyone says it’s so wonderful and such a fun thing to do together as a family.

Emma: Yeah, I have one. And that is kind of the only thing we do when we actually go on our back porch. But I also did an Instagram poll. It was a couple of years ago now because I didn’t know if I should. So we have a…it’s covered and it’s like a vinyl covering. And so I was like, oh, is this like unsafe? I have no idea. So I like, put that on there and actually got some people who one gal she like works at a place that sells different kinds of like fire pits and fire tables. And she was like, no, it’s totally safe. Obviously, you never want to leave it unattended, but you don’t wanna leave it unintended anyway. So I was like, oh, okay, cool. So then I felt a lot more confidence putting it out there. And, you know, it’s never been a problem. I think I was just a little nervous about it for no reason.

Elsie: Oh, because there’s kind of like a canopy.

Emma: Yes, there’s like a vinyl ceiling, cloth ceiling. And I thought, oh, as the heat goes up, will it ever melt that or just I don’t know, could hurt it in any way. But no, it never has. I’m sure if we turn. So mine’s like a propane. You know, you turn it on. And I actually think it looks pretty similar to Mandy’s. It’s like a cheaper version. But anyway, you could turn the fire like up and maybe it would be a little bit hazardous. But I don’t know. We never turn it up that high anyway. And I don’t know why you would and also you would know right away and you would never leave it unattended because you wouldn’t do that anyway. So, yeah.

Elsie: Okay. Well, let’s talk about ways to spend time outdoors. Some of the things I’m really excited about for spending time together outside…so we got the fire table. I’m excited to try making s’mores. We have a dining room table out there at the moment. It’s the only dining room table in our home, which is funny because our other two dining room tables are severely delayed because of COVID. So, which is totally fine. But the only place where we can sit as a family and eat is definitely on the back porch. Our kids really, really like to sit out there. And we’ve been having like a weekend little charcuterie party.

Emma: Cute.

Elsie: Which is kind of fun. And they also like to have breakfast out there. And then I. Okay. So in the summertime, we love to get the $30 blow up swimming pool from Amazon. We do it every year and it brings so much joy. But we are going to put ours in the bottom deck just because it’s not as accessible for our kids to get out there. And we do have a toddler. So our upper deck is protected by a baby gate and they will occasionally go out there without us seeing or noticing. So, yeah, the baby pool is gonna be on the bottom deck where it’s totally away from them, but it’ll be something really fun to do once the weather gets just a little bit hotter. And then yesterday as designing the bottom deck and I decided that we are going to build a day bed swing. Do you know I’m talking about by that?

Emma: Yeah, but describe it in case someone doesn’t, plus there’s different kinds.

Elsie: So a daybed swing is a large porch swing that can fit a twin sized mattress on it and then they make kind of these plastic covered twin sized mattresses that are a little more weatherproof that you can put it on there and then it can have, you know, pillows and it can be pretty. Someone could actually take a nap on it. I’m really excited because we have a perfect spot for it in our bottom deck where it’s just meant to have a swing there kind of in the center. And we’ll have some twinkly lights and really we’re going to keep it pretty minimal. I didn’t want to put too much furniture down there. I’m just going to do like a couple of chairs. Be sure a table or side table and this big giant swing. And I think we might even be able to keep it out there through the winter and everything because of the mattress. But I’ll research that a little bit more. But yeah, I think it’ll just be a really magical thing to do with our kids, to have a place to read and kind of hang out and they can even like color. And I really am excited to have a porch that’s very minimally furnished because we can do things like bring out our art easel or make a picnic or, you know, kind of spread out more and they can ride their tricycles and stuff.

Emma: Yeah, I think the only thing I’m really planning for this spring is I’ve been considering, and I don’t know if I can do it yet, but I’ve been considering buying a hammock like a freestanding — you don’t have to attach it to a tree. It stands all on its own frame.

Elsie: Do it sister, yeah.

Emma: I have one at my Florida house and I have sat out in it a few times when I’m there reading and I’m like, Oh, this is actually really fun. I don’t know why I’ve never like, it’s not that expensive. So I don’t know why I’ve never bought one. I think I’m a little unsure where to put it because I don’t necessarily want to be like having to drag it around all the time, like moving it. So but I could put it in the screened in area and I think that would be kind of nice.

Elsie: That’s a good idea.

Emma: I don’t know.

Elsie: That might be a good thing to do instead of seating if you don’t feel like you really need the seating. Yeah, I want a hammock too, but I feel like having the perfect spot for it is the first step.

Emma: Yeah, and I’m very…like to stay out of the sun like I’m never like, oh, I need a spot where I can get a tan. I’m like, no, I’m scared of the sun, basically (laughs) So I’m like, I like to you know, go on walks and things and I wear sunscreen and all that. But I just don’t really want a hammock to be out in the sun.

Elsie: Right. Yeah.

Emma: I just know I wouldn’t use it as much if it was.

Elsie: Yeah. Same here. I have a fake tanning lifestyle.

Emma: Yeah. Me too.

Elsie: Oh. The last thing I wanted to say about the daybed, I’m just like ping pong ping pong. Okay. So the daybeds are super expensive and I kind of have expensive taste anyway. But once I found one that I really loved, it was $3000 for this like hanging porch swing basically. So I think we can make it for under $500. I’m super excited. I think it’ll be a fun DIY on the blog, but hopefully if you’re listening, please, someone make the DIY because sometimes when we make the big projects like the building projects, people like Pin them a lot on Pinterest and stuff, but they don’t actually like make it as much because it’s, you know, a larger barrier of entry. So I really hope that people will make this one because it can save kind of a lot of money.

Emma: Yeah, I think people do. I think it’s just like smaller than the number of people who, like, make a cookie recipe. But I still think, you know, people do it.

Elsie: So I guess I should just do the embarrassing story.

Emma: Yeah. I don’t have anything else I want to share about outer spaces. So, yeah. Tell us your embarrassing story. I haven’t heard this one and I. Is this one outdoor related? Like where you outside?

Elsie: I mean, yes, I was outside when it happened…

Emma: But it’s other than that not really. Okay. Yeah. I don’t know the story, so.

Elsie: Ok. So yeah. On our show notes outline it says Elsie’s embarrassing roller skating story, that’s all Emma knows. OK, this is a fun story. So I’ve never actually been embarrassed before I was excited to tell the embarrassing stories. But this time, I think cuz it only happened like last week? I’m kind of like ahhh.

Emma: I was gonna say recent things are so much harder because you’re like, oh, and I did this yesterday instead of like five years ago.

Elsie: Yeah. OK. So about a couple weeks into quarantine, I started to feel like most people or many people — a little bit depressed. So I decided to try some just try things. I made a list on my phone and I was just gonna try like anything to lift the spirits. So I started running and it was really fun. I’ve been listening to the Office Ladies podcast. It’s a really fun podcast. Perfect for a run because the episodes are about an hour long. So I was like, I’m going to start running as one of my goals. If you remember from the New Year’s goal episode was to train for a half marathon this year. And now I’m like, okay, I want to do the training, but I don’t actually want to do the marathon. And I don’t even know if I’ll be able to. But anyway, I still want to do that. But after a couple days, I started like fantasizing and I saw someone rollerblading in the park and I was like, I’m going to bring my roller skates here. I think that this is a terrain…Like the way that the sidewalks were. There’s hardly any people around. It just was a good roller skating spot and I had a good feeling about it. But it was a little bit of a barrier to get past just to do it in front of other people. Yeah. You know. I really, really wanted to be left alone. But I got a helmet and pads here to be extra safe. You know, since it’s not a good time to go to like the hospital or break your arm.

Emma: No I’ll break your arm.

Elsie: Yeah. So anyway, I had been roller skating. This was my third time and I like had a favorite spot. And then a second favorite spot. And then I had a sport that I tried where it was like on too much of a hill. And I started going really fast and it scared me. And I can’t go there anymore. It was in the parking lot of a library, by the way. It’s a scary place. So anyway, I had this big parking lot that I love. And then this trail like more of a path thing that I love. So this day I was going back to my parking lot. I got there. There were zero cars. I was like, yes. Like, thank you. You know, like universe. I’m so thankful because I don’t want anyone to see me or talk to me. And this is — I’m an extreme introvert. This is my form of alone time. It’s like one hour a day. It’s actually even less than an hour a day. And I’m just going out finding a spot roller skating for forty five minutes and going back home with my little kids and having zero alone time otherwise, you know, so on this day, I went out there and I was sitting in my trunk of my SUV putting on my pads and my roller skates and a police car pulled into the parking lot where I was, and I was like, man, I didn’t feel like I was gonna get in trouble because I didn’t. I knew that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. So that wasn’t a factor. But I was just like, I kind of wish that this police car wasn’t sitting there, but I was like, well, whatever. Maybe this man or woman just needs a place to, like, sit and talk on their phone or take a break or, you know, eat Taco Bell or whatever thing that they’re doing. That’s none of my business. And they have no, they’re not looking at me. They’re not worried about me. They’re just looking for their own space, just like I am. So that’s what I told myself for 40 minutes while I roller skated. And they continued sitting there the whole entire time. And I had to go past like right past the car for a lot of it. And…

Emma: Did you feel like if…because I don’t think I would have done it, I would’ve been like. Never mind. I’m just going to go home. Do you feel like if you did that, you would look suspicious, like you would look like you saw them? And then you’re like, oh, I better not do what I was doing because it’s something. It’s more than roller skating. I don’t know what you would be doing, but…

Elsie: I guess I just hoped that they would only be there for like five minutes and that they would see what I was doing and be like, okay, time for me to leave. Like, you know what I mean?

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: I just was like, oh, well, they’re not going to stay the whole time. And they did. And so that wasn’t so great. And I was like, man, it kinda like ruined my vibe a little bit.

Emma: Yeah…

Elsie: Because I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much. So then I was like, oh, OK, that’s fine. At the end of it, I. So I went back to my trunk, was sitting there taking off all my pads and stuff. And the car pulled right up by my car and he rolled down his windows, it was a man, and started talking to me. And I like was just like, oh, man. And then at first I was like, am I actually going to get in trouble for what? And then he just wanted to talk to me about how bad I was at roller skating. So this is exactly what he said. “Is it your first time roller skating?” And I was like, oh, I mean, I’m just doing this for fun. Like, I don’t want to say like, no, it’s not my first time. I do this all the time. But like, you know, I know I’m bad at it. And it’s also like in a parking lot, it’s all like jaggedy. And, you know, I’m just like, this was my third time to do it. I wasn’t trying to, like, you know, be an Olympian or anything. Sure. But then, yeah, he asked me three times if it was my first time to roller skate and if I was new to it. And finally, I did the thing that I will occasionally do if I see someone from high school at like the mall or the supermarket or something where I just like prematurely said, “OK, have a good day!” (laughs)

Emma: It’s like that’s the Midwest “Get the hell away from me”

Elsie: Right. It is. So anyway. Then I went home and told the story to Jeremy and he couldn’t believe it because it is kind of the thing that like women get treated completely differently, like he’s never seen me get treated like that before. When I’m with him. But then when you’re alone, it’s it’s like two different worlds. And every woman knows that.

Emma: Was the police officer like older? Was he kind of like, you know, like grandpa? Like “hey how ya doin”?

Elsie: He was middle aged. I just felt like what he did was rude. I wasn’t, like, threatened in any way or anything. I just felt that he ruined my workout. And it wasn’t nice. It wasn’t polite. And also I was like, you just wanted to talk to me about how I suck? (laughs)

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Anyway, it was really, really, really embarrassing. And now every time I go, I’m like, way more self-conscious. And so maybe this is a sad story. I wanted it to be funny.

Emma: No, I think it’s pretty funny, but it’s just kind of weird, too. So I’m like, well, I guess maybe he was just really bored. Like they’re stopped. He wants to do right early.

Elsie: Yeah. I guess so. During quarantine times, there are some extroverts who are becoming maybe like very annoying because they haven’t had enough people to talk to. Maybe he’s one of those.

Emma: Yeah. And all the introverts are like people are at my house. Please, please give me a minute. Yeah. Because I’m like that when I’m on a walk, that’s like my alone time. And if there’s a lot of people out, which there are right now, everybody’s discovering the magic of walking because they’re all quarantined. But if there’s tons of people out walking, I’m kind of like this. This a little bit ruins it for me because I like to just be…I like to feel like I’m alone.

Elsie: Well, I will say I feel like most of the other times I’ve been out, there’s a very strict code of ethics or code of conduct manners, you know, where people don’t really look at each other or talk to each others like maybe a little tiny wave.

Emma: Sure.

Elsie: You know, nobody’s like, yeah.

Emma: “So you’re not very good at this, huh?” And you’re like, okay. Well, anyway…

Elsie: We should probably cut it off. I’m so embarrassed.

Emma: (laughs) Okay.

Elsie: But yeah, anytime I post one of those cute videos, roller skating, you can remember that it’s actually so embarrassing.

Emma: So thanks so much for listening. We’d love to hear from you and hear about what you’re doing in your outdoor spaces this coming season. You can e-mail us at podcast@abeautifulmess.com And you can find all the show notes for this episode at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. And we’d love for you to share this or leave us a review. It means a lot as we’re still trying to grow. Bye!

Elsie: Thank you!

Read More
  • Not related to outdoor spaces, but I know you mentioned your B&Bs that you own. I would love for you to do a podcast on how you got into rental properties, the process and tips for people considering purchasing property to rent out through Air BNB or VRBO, etc.

  • Don’t let that guy take your fun away! Remember when you were in kindergarten and you were the best singer, dancer, drawer, artist? Be that kid! Enjoy!

  • How are you liking that sofa from article? I’ve been browsing outdoor loveseats for weeks but it’s so hard without being able to try it in person. My experience with some outdoor furniture is that since they have no give, they can be kind of unforgiving on your thighs and rear when sitting in them for a long time, even with cushions.

    • I LOVE them. It rains a ton here and I am really impressed with how they are weathering (or not weathering) so far. We use a leaf blower a few times a week and that’s about all we do! :))

  • Elsie, I loved your embarrassing story and I could so relate! People always seem to zero in on me serving the volleyball wrong or whatever. And I recently went roller skating for the first time as an adult and I was so bad at it but it has so fun! I really want to try again but the rink is closed so I was thinking about buying my own pair and doing what you did! Now I am totally inspired to do it despite the risk of a super embarrassing moment 😉

  • I would love a tutorial for a hanging daybed! After looking into purchasing one for this summer and seeing the crazy cost, we’ve decided it would be a great DIY.

    • Rollerblading in nashville is tough because of the hills! I’ve wiped out a few places but I find that Shelby bottoms (specifically the airstrip) is a great place to go! Thanks for sharing your story, even though you have nothing to be embarrassed about ?

  • I find that learning to skate in your very little free time is phatastic!!! You rock!

  • Hi! I have been looking at that fire table ever since I saw it on Mandy’s IG. Can you confirm whether or not it needs to be connected to an external propane source via a hose? It doesn’t look like it in Mandy’s photos but the Q&A on the Wayfair website seems to suggest otherwise. I feel like the hose would be such an eyesore (and a tripping hazard?), but maybe I’m being dramatic. 🙂

  • I 100% agree that when you have kids and pets, you just have to accept that things will get worn and that is ok! I would recommend getting a power washer. It’s a game changer for keeping decks, outdoor furniture and even outdoor cushions clean season after season. Your deck is so beautiful, I love how it’s turned out so far!

  • Re your skating moment: We midwest girls are taught from a very young age to be polite and nice to everyone, including men who make stupid comments, while midwest boys are taught to be polite but ALSO taught how to give off the “shut the hell up and GO AWAY” vibe that’s super effective. Boys are given this tool, girls are not. I had to teach myself
    I now have no qualms about projecting a rude, bordering on mean, “shut the hell up I have no plans to be nice vibe” .I use this rarely, but I definitely project a commanding, leave me alone steely persona when I’m alone. It works and males usually want nothing to do with me. Real life, I’m kind and will hold the door for anyone and give anyone a chance to talk. But not when I’m alone and not when you are INTERRUPTING my introvert time!!! I’ve never been sexually assaulted or any of that either because I sadly had to start acting this way when I was 11 and got boobs. It’s sad but true that we have to protect ourselves. I hope you teach your daughters this. That it’s ok to NOT be polite and to want to be left alone. That guy’s comments were out of line. No reason to be embarrassed. I run alone a lot, I’m bad at it, i know it and dont need a anyone commenting on it.

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