As rule I shy away from “garden decor.” Who needs things whirling, whizzing and peeking out from your shrubbery? (Though I admit to having a soft spot for garden gnomes, it’s true.) This adorable family of ducks at Uncommon Goods is just charming enough to almost change my mind. They’re made from recycled plastic and filled with clay and newspaper and are quite durable. Momma duck is $35 and each of the little ones is $28 — but wouldn’t it be tragic to break up a family? See uncommongoods.com for more details.
What is it about circle rugs that are so appealing? I’ve been a fan of them since my early renter days. Currently we have a pretty genius Ikea hack in our upstairs landing, featuring one rug made up of lots of dots. Chilewich’s new indoor-outdoor dot rugs have just the kind of playful whimsy we’ve been looking for. They come in bright, popping colors of the season that is almost here (melt snow, melt!). I think they’d be groovy in place of a runner in a long hall, or in a kitchen where orange, citron and green are always welcome. About $100/each at Armara.
This summer during our annual pilgrimage up north to Mt. Desert Island in Maine, we were lucky enough to nab a rental property that came with a hot tub on the back deck. Every night, we’d take a soak outdoors, taking in the gorgeous views and letting our hike-weary muscles relax. Our six year old girl thought it was the coolest hot thing in the world (though instructing her not to try to swim in it was another matter). Back home, the thought of having a permanent hot tub is less appealing. We know we wouldn’t use all year round, and we imagine it just taking up space and getting yucky in our tiny backyard. Enter Vanish Spa! An inflatable, portable hot tub that might be just what we need. The project is trying to raise some starter funds on Kickstarter, so they’re offering a tub for $499 — what they say is $300 off the future retail price. These six person tubs inflate in ten minutes, and come with head rests, 88 jets and a heating system that will take the water to 104 degrees. Granted, the camouflage exterior may not suit everyone’s mod aesthetic, but the idea is you could put it out in the woods and “vanish” into the scenery. They remind me of nests filled with water. Of course, we need to finish remodeling our upstate cottage before we can think about adding extras like a hot tub. But it’s fun to dream a bit. Click to watch the Vanish Spa demo video.
What do you think? Portable hot tubs: Genius or cheesy?
There’s nothing I love more than gardening, but our narrow side yard was pretty challenging. Houses in our 1940s development are just a few feet apart, so while a six-foot fence gave us much needed privacy, I was stumped on how to put it to use without going broke buying trellises. Then I saw this video by Organic123 and knew that concrete reinforcing mesh (remesh) was the affordable answer! We picked up several 42”x84” panels at Home Depot for $7.20 apiece.
The next challenge was how to attach the remesh to the fence, since vines need a little space to grow up through the trellis. Fence posts work great as a natural spacer, but we were working with the flat side of the fence. But then my husband had a stroke of genius at one of our local architectural salvage places: use ceramic insulators that were once part of outdated knob-and-tube wiring. Not only did he find a whole bucket of them, the two-piece insulators were practically ready made, since they were originally designed to hold electrical wire. We used a sawzall to cut through the old bolts that held the two pieces together, used new screws to attach the insulators at even intervals to our fence, fit the remesh down between the two pieces, then tightened the screws into place.
The resulting trellis has a great, industrial chic look that the ceramic makes a little more finished. It immediately transformed the most neglected part of our yard into one of my favorite spots. And not only do we love it, but our scarlet runner beans, Virginia creeper and raspberry vines do, too.
Turns out remesh is great for all kinds of garden projects. Here are just a few: chicken coops and fences, a freestanding trellis using rebar, wire towers for tomato plants, and my favorite (maybe I’ll try this next), a charming trellis tunnel.
One of the nice things about being a parent with kitschy tastes: You can blame your kids for anything overtly silly you display in your home. At least, that is the line we would use after putting rampaging Kaiju garden gnome in our front yard. Cast of polyresin, this fierce creature is having a feast with the unfortunate garden gnomes left in his path. We love the giggles he inspires, but will he help with our squirrel problem at all? If only he really roared. $25 at thinkgeek.com.
More Shelterrific gnome goodies can be found here.