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Party Central

April 26, 2010

Those party lights

Last night was the big party for our friend Terry and it was a great success. Not everything I had planned panned out, however. The party had a Mexican theme and included a taco bar (terrific!) and lots of great friends who made the trip into the Inland Empire (thanks, everyone!). But there was also supposed to be a mariachi trio (no-shows) and a paleta cart (also MIA); no matter, everyone had a great time. Preparing for the party, I knew I wanted to create seating areas for guests to hang out in, and there were several spread out on the property. My fave was the one above: the deck off the kitchen. It’s a nice enclosed space that looks out onto the grounds of the UCR conservation facility across the street on one side, Evergreen Cemetary at the rear and Mt. Rubidoux in the other direction. It has one drawback: our trash enclosure backs up to it. Wanting to hide that, I considered a few options, and, as usually happens, the solution came out of necessity. Since I had to move quite a few planted containers from a corridor area between the house and my office to make room for the taco makers, why not use them to create the trash blind? We had to get to work …

What trash?

Enlisting Paul’s help we moved the heaviest containers into the highest positions atop concrete planters already at the deck’s end. Then, layering the others by size, foliage type and color, arranged them. Looked pretty good, but I felt there needed to be a focal point, a unifying element. Looking around, I thought my collection of 60s cinderblocks would work. I stacked them, and using other concrete pavers, came up with a central, stepped arrangement. I placed river pebbles and a green metal lampshade in front and I my focal point was complete. Now I needed some kind of table between the deck’s vinyl sofas. I scanned the property and found some estate sale metal stands that once held up garage sinks: perfect. Next, I needed something to top them with. A steel vintage sign flipped over was just right: not too wide, and almost as long as the sofas. Flipped, it was attractively rusty, if a little bent and flimsy. So, I decided to have a piece of glass cut to fit inside the reversed sign that would serve the dual function of adding much-needed heft and protect the groovy rust. Table complete!

Visual directionality

I topped the now glass-topped table with a cool blackened steel candle holder from the 60s. The hinged holder creates a nice zig-zagging visual that leads the eye back to the focal point, reinforcing it. Flat river pebbles stand in for candles, and refer back again to the stepped centerpiece.

Banquette in back

The back end of the deck features a bench we created from the chrome base of a modernist sidebar we mounted an upholstered vinyl seat onto. Assorted pillows (Ikea, under $10 each) add comfort and a colorful, graphic pop. The tangelo-colored planters I acquired last weekend (swap meet, $15) make an appearance as a table when stacked and topped with a marble round (estate sale, $10). A metal folding chair pulls up alongside, adding still more geometry and citrus-hued punch. Rust shows up again, this time on metal serving trays resting on side tables. A pot holding a yellow sedum on an old metal dolly, and a grassy-lookalike in a vintage metal shopping cart, round out the scene. Earlier in the week Paul and I had had three 8-foot lengths of rebar cut, and using metal eye-hooks, we attached them to the deck’s uprights … upholstery hooks taped to the ends of the rebar were then used to support strings of clear glass outdoor lights overhead. Did the decked-out party deck work? Oh, yeah! … during the fiesta a revolving cast of guests enjoyed the hang-out, making all the effort satisfyingly worthwhile. And, with the elements now in place, the deck can be used through the summer for everything from hanging out with a glass of wine to full-on birthday bashes … anyone up for the 4th of July?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Bonnie Reynolds permalink
    April 26, 2010 6:09 pm

    as usual, you two are sooo clever; loved the table with the orange pots and really liked the rebar idea; am going to have to remember that. I took photos of all the fab white pots you left for me with my plantings in them but can’t find my card reader to transfer them to my computer. As soon as I get them in I will email them to you; they look wonderful! thank you so much for all the great pots; so glad white isn’t your color. I’m still trying to figure out the exact right plants for the planter the looks like a log; knowing me I will change it a few times before I get it just right.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 27, 2010 3:53 pm

      Thanks, Bonnie, I can’t wait to see what you did with the white pots… btw: isn’t your water-wise plant sale this weekend?

      • Bonnie Reynolds permalink
        April 27, 2010 6:30 pm

        yes, we are having our water-wise plant sale on saturday May 1 from approx 7:30am to noon; maybe later if the crowds demand it! We will have agaves, aloes, a large variety of cactus and other succulents, haworthia, sempervivum, sticks on fire, hesperaloe; many from our yard that folks have asked about when they walk past our yard. So tell all your friends – 3887 Redwood Dr at 9th St [on the 9th st side].
        I saw your post about the yard sale close to Magnolia on saturday and was really tempted to go but decided to go ahead with our sale anyway…we have lots of plants and many more of my “fun, vintage planters” also for sale. Our prices will be really good.

  2. April 27, 2010 3:46 am

    Gorgeous….everything…what a space!!! I’m blown away!!!!! Glad your party was a smashing success…

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 27, 2010 3:52 pm

      Thanks, Julie… you’re invited to the next one!

  3. Terry permalink
    April 27, 2010 4:27 pm

    The party was absolutely fabulous — the setting was amazing and the hosts were simply terrific! Everyone was excited to get an inside look at The Rancho and to take the grand tour. I can’t wait to head back to River City.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 27, 2010 4:45 pm

      Awww.. thanks, Terry… we enjoyed having it for you!

  4. Rebecca permalink
    April 27, 2010 4:29 pm

    It was lovely. And the party was great! Thanks so much for letting us come and explore your treasures.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 27, 2010 4:45 pm

      You’re welcome, and thanks so much for coming!

  5. Elizabeth Han permalink
    April 28, 2010 1:20 am

    You remind me of Todd Oldham and his days on MTV’s “House of Style.” He was resourceful, crafty, and fun to watch. I like how your creations, like the two tables, look as if if they were meant to be that way all along. I would not have guessed that they were “homemade.” I like the geometry of the metal folding chair.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 28, 2010 2:55 am

      Elizabeth, this is the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me — Todd’s been an design hero and inspiration of mine forever… and I loved that show… thanks for reminding me of it.


  1. Rancho Dressing | Rancho Reubidoux

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