Friday, August 12, 2011

Front Yard, Done Right

I've spent some time in this blog writing about front yards--the good, the bad, the ugly. Talking about how accessories, scale, color schemes, and planted things can make or break a look.

Over the next few days, I'd love to show you some homes that totally, completely Get It Right. These are places where every single thing--house facade, plantings, paint, accessories, landscaping--goes to support a certain look. And that look comes through, loud and beautifully clear.

Today's home belongs to A., my neighbor. I'd call it "Classic California Casual." A. uses a tight, well-thought-out color scheme of sage green, black, white, and dark blues. The color scheme announces itself right at the property line with an eye-catching blue arbor. (She says the gate that fits into the arbor is coming; I think it looks terrific, even without the gate.)

Everything you see is sage green, dark blue, black, and white. The variation in textures and size and shape keeps the color scheme fresh, not predictable. Furthermore, she varies the shades of blue subtly so there is movement within the tight color palette.

On her generous front porch, she features this little black bench:

Look at that green, green lawn! I'm envious....

Here's a closer look at the bench. I love that high-gloss black paint:

To the right, there is this larger bench, painted the same glossy black:

I think I remember her saying she got the big one on Craigslist. Smart! And look at the wonderful play of patterns on those pillows, done in indoor/outdoor fabric:

Using indoor/outdoor fabrics on a front porch is doubly smart, because 1)the fabric will not rot or get moldy and 2)fabrics reinforce a color scheme without too much cash outlay. A yard or two is all you need to make an impact when the patterns are bold like these.

I love the cut-out details on the arms and front, below the seat cushion.

Elsewhere, A makes judicious use of planters and pots. There are a couple of classic urns, painted a handsome, matte black:

And some glazed blue pots, whose mismatched shapes and slight variations in shade add life to the arrangement:

And A. adds this sweet little cobalt-blue glass vase to the side of the big bench. She's filled it with a simple handful of rosemary, and the effect is charming:

A. also has a zinc-topped potting bench on the porch. She uses it to showcase yet another glazed ceramic pot and a retro-styled metal watering can...

She's added a white Kalanchoe in a simple metal bucket that echoes the metal of the watering can, a birch-bark vase for a touch of natural texture, and a white ceramic oval with her house numbers painted on it in black:

Above the potting table, she's hung a white-framed mirror and trimmed it with shutters that match those elsewhere on the house. Here's the mirror...

...and here are the shutters:

A mirror may seem like an unusual accent on the front porch, but as long as it's not directly exposed to rain, it's a great way to add sparkle and bling, or to light up a dim corner of a porch.

This is A.'s front door, slightly hidden on the side of the porch:

I don't know which came first--the blue of the various glazed pots, or the blue of the door, but they inhabit the same color family, which reinforces the cohesive look of the whole front yard:

That's a barometer--again, hewing to her color scheme in black and white--to the left of her door. An outdoors barometer is another great accessory on the outside of a house. Just make sure it doesn't look like you got it for $1.99 in the bargain bin from the hardware store. This one has the right look--handsome, well designed, and important:

Everything about this front yard says "Welcome! Relax. We've thought of everything. We're ready for you."

Who wouldn't want to walk through this gate and spend a while on her porch?

You get an A in my book, A.!

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