Transforming An Outdoor Space for Entertaining

This post is in partnership with Birch Lane.
The products featured are new from Birch Lane, so scroll to the end for direct source links!

Hey, hey! I’m so glad you’re here. I can’t wait to give you a little peek at the before and progress photos of this side porch area of my home (just outside my newly remodeled kitchen) as well as share some tips for refreshing your own outdoor space.

With spring just about here (it is, isn’t it?), now is the time to start planning a few outdoor projects so you can enjoy every bit of upcoming sunshine. That’s exactly what I intend to do.

Remember when we first moved in? Our porch looked like this:

The side porch just didn’t feel as welcoming as I wanted it to be (clearly even neighborhood cats weren’t welcome here, either, hahahah). I knew with a few cosmetic changes, the porch and our home would have a modern coastal cottage vibe that would suit it and our location well.

For those who are new here, our home is on the west coast in the city of Seattle, overlooking the salty waters of the Puget Sound (as well as the Olympic Mountains on a clear day!). With our brand new Dutch door installed, the now painted white brick, new charming light fixture and stained concrete, we’ve made quite a bit of progress already! We still have lots more to do, but even though it’s been slow, I feel like we are on the right track.

I’ll let you in on a little behind the scenes craziness from this day we were taking these photos. There were a few sun breaks (which have been almost non-existent since October!), but don’t let a glimpse of pretty blue sky fool you.

It was freezing. And super windy and rainy most of the day. We had to remind ourselves that spring would indeed arrive and by summer we will actually really enjoy being outside in this space.

Lily - Dutch Door - The Inspired Room

As we were trying to set things up (in between wind gusts and rain drops) our dogs started hopping up on the Dutch door trying to see what we were doing. Our day was made. That is exactly what we dreamed might happen some sunny day if we had a Dutch door. It’s the little things that give us inspiration and make the effort all worthwhile, right? Dreams can come true.

I have pictured for a very long time about how we would use this outdoor area. Besides wanting a convenient and clean path to carry and unload groceries into the kitchen, I really wanted a table out here that we would use on a regular basis. I envisioned a charming spot to have morning coffee as well as a convenient place to set up plates and food for outdoor entertaining.

This lovely teak table and quality chairs from Birch Lane are just perfect for outdoor gatherings or quiet mornings. I can’t wait to set it up for our first get-together in this space.

I’m pretty casual when it comes to how I set up outdoor parties (or indoor parties for that matter), but I do like to have pretty things on hand to serve with. It’s fun to make spring and summer parties feel more special without stressing out trying to make it all perfect.

Besides a table to gather around, having a conveniently placed table can make a helpful landing spot to bring things out from the kitchen, too.

Birch Lane’s melamine plates are ideal for outdoor entertaining with a little more class than paper plates. I love the copper edged trays, too. Since our backyard is down a few steps, being able to transport food to the BBQ is important so I’m excited to put these trays to good use.

The serving baskets are also really cute.

They make it easy to transport utensils and napkins, as well as keep everything together and handy for guests.

A set of melamine glasses let you serve your beverage with flair (and another benefit, they are heavy enough that they won’t be as likely to tip over as paper or plastic cups!). I love the design on this set.

I think with creating outdoor spaces for entertaining, it helps to think through everything you’ll need in advance so you can be prepared and less stressed.

But on the day of an outdoor event, you just have to go with the flow! Case in point, it was so windy when I was taking these photos that my paper napkins kept blowing away. Small potted flowers to the rescue.

I knew from day one that I would want copper accents to add warmth to the patio and porch. These gorgeous hammered copper planters were exactly the style and additional texture I dreamed about.

I can’t wait to shop for plants and flowers that can fill our porch and side yard with the lush look I picture for this space. Not only will I love sitting out here surrounded by green, but I will be so happy to finally see plants from inside the kitchen. Plants can really transform a patio!

But don’t worry, you really don’t have to have a green thumb to add some plants to your outdoor table. Look at these adorable little succulents. Have you ever seen such adorable little faux plants? You guys, THESE PLANTS WON’T DIE! These are perfect to have ready for decorating your outdoor tables. They’ll never shrivel up and will thrive season after season.

Our yard is filled with birds in the spring-time so I like to add a few accessories to create little outdoor destinations, a place where you or your guests can go to just relax and enjoy nature. I adore this little bird feeder! It would be so cute peeking out from spring flowers, too.

Even if you don’t have blooms in your yard, you can enjoy cut flowers from a farmer’s market or grocery store. We have a local farmer’s market near us every Sunday. We love picking up a seasonal bouquet!

Don’t stress about creating perfect arrangements, though. I love the casual rustic feel of these galvanized containers for effortless summer bouquets.

This cute little turtle is a good reminder of what summer outdoor spaces should be all about. It’s all about slowing down and having a place to really smell the flowers, right?

Birch Lane offers long-lasting, high quality items that are well-priced, so I’m always impressed by their products. I have several pieces in my home and they have held up beautifully!

Birch Lane makes it easy to shop online and they offer free shipping on orders over $49, so you can get all the accessories you need to be ready to up your outdoor space. You can shop from items you saw in today’s post via the links below.

Callaway Chair or Side Chair 

Table (similar)

White Melamine Dishes

Hammered Copper Planters

Riviera Plastic Water Glasses

Seagrass Cocktail Napkin Caddy

Seagrass Flatware Basket with Handles

Chickadee Bird Feeder

Coral and white pillow

Galvanized Planters (similar)

Faux Mini Plant Pots (set of 8)

Single Stalk Napkins

Be sure to check out more of Birch Lane’s wonderful outdoor options here!

Come As You Are Mat

Outdoor Light

Other sources from our porch and home can be found here.

Now that you had a peek at what I’ve been up to in this part of my home, you’re invited to visit two other bloggers who joined me this week in sharing their tips for outdoor spaces with Birch Lane!

These ladies are so talented at creating swoon-worthy outdoor spaces, so be sure to pay a visit to both Dear Lillie and French Country Cottage. You’ll be inspired!

I can’t wait to show you more of this space. I have a few more updates to show you in future posts (like the new concrete patio, brand new fence and the double gate to our backyard!). Of course we also have a list of projects we hope to get to this year (installing the porch railings and a front gate, potting plants and hanging string lights for a lovely courtyard ambience in the evenings!), so stay tuned this spring and summer for more developments!

What outdoor areas are you hoping to work on this season?

PS. I’m over on Birch Lane’s Instagram sharing tips today, I’d love if you came to say hi!

Shiplap Kitchen: Planked Walls Behind Sink & Stove

Hardiplank Shiplap Kitchen - The Inspired RoomHardiplank Shiplap Kitchen

Greetings! Since my galley kitchen was revealed, I’ve received lots of questions on various details in the room that I am excited to finally answer. I’m so pleased with the positive response to the design, I’m really glad you guys liked it, too! Down the road I’ll do a before & after post and a kitchen design post with my overall tips, but for now I think I’ll go through a few of the specific design elements I’ve had questions on.

I have had lots of questions on what we used for our “shiplap” walls and ceiling, so I thought this design element would be a good place to start. We actually didn’t set out to do a shiplap kitchen! We were originally thinking about tile and looked at samples of every imaginable option from white to colors to various shapes and patterns. We spent hours scouring design centers and tile warehouses. While many were absolutely beautiful, none of them felt right for us.

Part of the vibe I wanted for our the kitchen was that it would feel cozy from chunky texture in various materials. With a small kitchen, I had to get the biggest bang for the buck as I could from the few materials we would have in the space.

Incorporating more than two hard surfaces (tile walls or floors and quartz) would have felt too cold and one-dimensional for the feel I was going for. Too many contrasting patterns and colors on the surfaces would have been too dizzying and limited design-wise in a small space (for my taste).

Hardiplank Shiplap Kitchen WallsHardiplank Shiplap Kitchen Walls

Once we made the decision that tile was going to work best on our floors (the specifics of which I’ll talk more about in a flooring future post), and we already had decided on quartz for our countertops, we knew didn’t want to put tile on the walls, too.

After the flooring and counter decisions were made, I knew I wanted to mix in “warm” materials (in our case, we used painted planks, brass metal fixtures and wood accessories/rugs, etc) that would add enough texture and warmth to make the space interesting and welcoming, without overwhelming it with too much contrasting patterns and colors. We also wanted the freedom to have completely different looks in this space throughout the year, so neutrals felt the most flexible.

Hardiplank Shiplap Kitchen Walls and V-Groove T&G Ceiling - The Inspired Room

Since we were not closing up any of the openings or window locations and there were quite doorways and windows in this little room, I wanted to find a wall material that would make tie together the other elements and still offer the texture I was looking for. With such little wall space actually available, we also needed to consider what impact that material would have on the room as a whole.

Eventually we concluded that this kitchen was well-suited for “shiplap” walls. And by shiplap, I mean planked walls (mine are not true shiplap, but we’ll go with that term). Horizontal shiplap is perfect for unifying and visually joining together various openings. Your eye just naturally follows the lines of the shiplap around the room, rather than stopping and starting.

So the painted planks help hold the entire room together visually speaking, while adding just enough interest to the backdrop.

Shiplap Kitchen: Hardiplank Planked Walls Behind Sink & Stove

Now I know the obvious question is, what material did we use for our “shiplap” walls? And how will it hold up behind a sink and behind the stove?

Our contractor installed smooth (totally smooth, not faux textured) Hardiplank siding planks on our walls (nailed in and installed pretty close together horizontally). Our Hardiplanks were ordered from a lumber yard (that’s all I know about them!). The walls underneath weren’t perfectly straight (old house troubles), but somehow they made it work. Any imperfection just gives it more character, right? The raw edges of the planks were covered with trim pieces or caulking. The planks were sprayed with a quality paint (Benjamin Moore Advance in the color Simply White).

It’s water and fire resistant because it’s basically concrete! It’s as tough as tile, but definitely gives the room the warm vibe of painted wood. They are easy to just wipe off, so they are no more trouble to keep clean than tile. Because we found a material that made sense, we didn’t feel the need to change around the stove or sink.

Shiplap and Tongue and Groove Ceiling

Part of the charm of this small kitchen was that the design elements would be simple and classic, and interesting but not flashy. So to unify the whole room and up the classic charm even more, we paneled our ceiling in tongue and groove cedar (v-groove style).

In contrast to the more smooth wall planks, the ceiling planks have all sorts of natural knots and gauges so it gives the room lots of character without feeling overwhelming.

Shiplap Kitchen Hardiplanks The Inspired Room

With the ceiling and walls painted in the same shade of Benjamin Moore Simply White (it’s a nice warmer white), the planks could wrap the the character around the room without the distraction of too many obvious or contrasting design or paint color changes. The planks give the illusion of more height, too, when you are in the room.

I find the clean white backdrop to be really soothing and helps make the space feel more spacious than it is. Plus how much fun will it be to style this space differently in every season?

So, that’s the story of our planked walls and ceiling!

Find the full galley kitchen reveal post here and the kitchen source list post here.

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