Courtney Warren is a Texas-based interior designer whose work has been featured in Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, and Today.com. She is a frequent consultant on Fox 4 TV’s Good Day program in Dallas, was ranked in the top 3 percent of interior designers in the US by Houzz.com, and starred in the Dallas episode of TLC’sFour Houses. She delights in helping overwhelmed clients create beautiful spaces—and will never turn down a warm chocolate chip cookie or Diet Dr Pepper.
Oh, Texas summer. You are such a great idea in theory. Then the temp hits 100 degrees and I am drenched in sweat just walking from my car into the grocery store.
What’s a Texan to do?
The only surefire way to beat the heat is to embrace it. My two boys walked out of school and into the swimming pool pretty much without changing clothes, so spending time outside is not a choice for me. And in order to make it bearable, I had to get control of the yard. See what I mean?
When we bought the house, it had been on the market a while, and the backyard had started to get a wee bit overgrown (well, maybe more than a wee bit). Since it was winter, I didn’t think about it much, then suddenly spring hit and we looked like the spooky house that neighborhood kids avoid. If anyone is going to avoid me, I want it to be for the right reasons, so something (actually several somethings) had to change.
So. We changed.
Texas sun can beat down hard, so umbrellas were my first purchase. Peppering them around the yard turned the too-sunny spots shady–oh, and cute besides! The bold black and white stripe brought an instant chic that I paired with turquoise and green cushions and throw pillows for that fun pop of color.
Part of entertaining the neighborhood kids is having drinks and popsicles on hand, so I make sure to have both. I found some goggles on clearance last year, and since we go through them like missing socks, I keep an ample supply stocked and ready. We also try to keep graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate on hand (easier said than done—some people also like to snack on these items) because you never know when a swim party will turn into a s’mores party.
(Side note: do these kids ever stop eating?!?)
One of my favorite new additions to the backyard is a treat I have done for my design clients, but never for myself. I commissioned an amazing local muralist to paint an enormous custom sign for our back porch. My sons love seeing their name in big letters, and the twinkle lights hanging from the ceiling make it feel magical at night.
A lonely birdbath in the corner was more of a broken down bird motel–the only birds that visited were infrequent or running from the law. So I turned it into a planter with potting soil and some cheery plants and added some outdoor candles. Behind it, we placed a cedar trellis and rooted vines to grow in the shape of a X for visual interest. We also lined the yard with trellises and spaced tall trees between them to make a privacy hedge from the street. Because who knows what we will be wearing while swimming this year!? Kidding!
(Everyone knows the men in the family wear Speedos. Kidding again!)
Fruit makes a perfect centerpiece for a backyard party–it is cute and practical. It’s a centerpiece you can eat! These pineapples are festive and summery.
Backyard makeover action plan:
• Get cute umbrellas for shade
• Set up food and drink stations. If you can, double fruit for a centerpiece!
• Coordinate colors throughout the space
• Use planters from unexpected places
• Add a custom touch or a unique, fun piece
If you have to be hot this summer (and let’s face it, if you live in Texas, you can’t avoid it) a festive, fun outdoor space will definitely help make the summer heat more enjoyable.
Follow these easy tips and you too, can be the most popular house in the neighborhood. Just make sure you stock up on popsicles.
Want more fresh summer decor ideas? Let’s talk!