Over the summer, my husband and I did some home improvement by refurbishing our deck. We finished it rather quickly and then focused our attention on the backyard. It became our summer project. We created 2 zones – one for grown-ups and one for kids. I thought I would share our ideas here as inspiration for those who want to prepare their space to entertain for Labor Day and the upcoming holidays during the Covid-19 era.
We knew the backyard needed to allow for social distancing for the summer and into the fall when family and guests come to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This meant transforming our outdoor space into a safe space that allowed for us to relax comfortably but to also be large enough for our two grand-kids (7 and 9 years old) to enjoy. It was a modest plan. But then it kept growing until we had created our own private Shangri–La. I’m so proud of our new space and how it makes us feel. It brought a breath of fresh air and peace that we didn’t realize we needed during these months of quarantine. It gave us back a missing piece that we did not realize we needed: quality time spent with people we love.
Zone 1: The Grown-Up Zone
We bought eight iron back chairs and installed a fire-pit and centered it on top of a mound of sand so it feels like we’re at the beach (we had the chairs and sand delivered from Lowes and found the best deals for everything else on Amazon). We also bought a new grill that we parked in this zone along with giant tubs that we used to ice down drinks like sodas and beer. I added the final touch of koch shells (I love to collect all kinds of sea shells from our trips to the Caribbean) that really makes it special. We now have a Labor Day party planned with family and friends. By November, it will be chilly so we bought multiple patio heaters (on wheels) so that we can move them throughout the yard and deck as needed and portable LED lanterns for character and illumination.
Zone 2: The Kid Zone
My grand-kids love to swim. Our backyard has a slope so an in-ground pool is not feasible. Then I remembered that I took them to a water slide park last summer and they had a blast. So, we bought a giant inflatable water slide. The slide paid for itself in one afternoon! Since we were stuck at home, we didn’t have to pay airfare, hotels and all for a family trip to Florida. We created our own quarantined water park with the sand that we also used from the fire pit area. My grand-kids, daughter and husband even played on the slide! We made sand castles, roasted smores and hotdogs and enjoyed the best summer that we have ever had together. We are leaving it up until after our upcoming Labor Day party ; we will then deflate it and store it in the garage until next summer.
My husband and I like to snow ski in Aspen every winter. Since that won’t be the case this winter, we took inspiration from the quaint French Alpine Bistro’s that we love where guests sit on chairs draped with fleecy faux sheep pelts. Historically, the outdoor dining experience goes back to the 1918 Spanish Flu where Parisian’s sat outside for the same health reasons that we are doing so now. I will buy some plug -in heat mats and position them under rugs when the chill demands it (and insert in the cushions of my dogs’ bed). A friend told me that she and her husband use heated stadium cushions to keep warm during football games so I plan to make them available for guests also. After we refurbished the wood panels and flooring and weather sealed everything, we then installed an inflatable movie theater. The kids played video games and watched movies on it over the summer. We already had the jacuzzi. We are now planning an election viewing party in November. Wish us luck!