Tyson and Billy Architects

Outdoor Living, Be Inspired.

Summer is my favorite time of the year and I hate it when retail rushes the next season. Yesterday to my horror I discovered a full blown Christmas Display while shopping (*ahem, Hobby Lobby).
In direct opposition to this I am determined to enjoy every last moment of summer even if mid-July in the Midwest does mean storms …

Anybody else without power right now?

(from Dahlia House Studio)

For those of you willing to dole out sympathy to my plight: the power company said we might have power restored on Thursday. Oh, joy. Not too soon please, I love fumbling around the house with a flashlight

I think I might buy this:

Hilarious that this HUGE flashlight has such a dinky arm strap. *Ouch
Apologies to the maker, but this beast should have a American Tourister size padded shoulder harness.

Okay, back on track …

So to escape the heat of our house, I found myself outside yesterday evening serenaded to the hum of a neighborhood full of running generators, wishing I had a luxurious - albeit soundproof - outdoor living area.

I have a couple of chairs I keep in my garage and haul out when the mood strikes, but oh how I wish for one of these:

Designer: Michael Penney

Layer your accent colors!

Multiple textures and patterns in the same accent colors on different levels keeps your eye moving and brings the accent color to the forefront.

A accent color is more impactful when at least three elements have these same color.
Notice how the blue is used on the vintage table [mid], the pillows [high], and a darker shade on the book [low].

Here's a few outdoor living areas I love with my Designer Hints for creating these "looks" in
your own way.

Designer: Greg Murphy

Colorphobic? Solution: Pattern

Layer different neutral tones and patterns to keep things interesting without committing to a seasonal color. Stay with a classic neutral, just mix up your patterns for monochromatic pizzazz.

Designer: Christopher Wood

Coloraholic?  Where's the fine line between too much and just right?

Create your mutli-hued space by sticking to 3 main colors and 1 pattern.
Photo: Green, Blue, and Yellow with a White & Black checkered pattern.

Still need more color? Introduce another hue with accessories you can change out and take away. The pink and orange serving tray zings your eye right to that unique color pop without distracting from the primary accent colors.

Designer: Lisa Rogers

Color Trend Solution: A Easy and Safe Commitment

I have found that a lot of people hold back on designing with color because they don't want to create a space around a "trendy" color that's moment will not make it to next season.

Easy Commitment: buy at least three items in the color of your choice. Trendy or not, it's a great color splash and if you need a new color next summer ... ultimately it's two pillows and a floor vase to replace.

Play it Safe: Invest in neutral staple items and add color accents with economical items.
The chair cushions (a staple) are in a neutral straw color and accented with teal pillows (economical) make for a great color pairing. Next summer red, purple, pink, or green would be just as stunning with those straw colored cushions.

Accessorize Your Outdoor Seating Area

What a interesting idea: hang a mirror or wall art or a planter at the eye level of your table when seated. Creates a cozy pocket for conversation and brings a little indoor flare outdoors.

This pair of chairs and table by themselves would not be nearly as impactful, but the addition of a wall mounted décor and a little color creates a splendid result!

*Designer's Pick Frontgate & Ballard Designs have great outdoor artwork and accessories.

Designer: Mark Hartley Landscape Architects

No match? No Worries!

Please put away the misconception that your outdoor living area HAS to match your house perfectly. It really doesn't.

Although, this isn't a comfortable idea for everyone… introducing a design statement that is unique from the house is a great way to define a lounge area.

In this picture the striking difference of the background and landscape of the home to the lounge seating area creates a beckoning invitation. It continues the modern theme of this home and adds a dash of whimsy.

Do something unexpected! I love the suspended globe above the seating area.

Temporary Party Decor

String a few strands of lights above a seating area for a little mood lighting and design flair.

Create the suspended globe look on a smaller scale: Pottery Barn has a great offering of outdoor light strands.

Designer: Barb Purdy

And lastly: Pattern Wow

The simple, bold pattern on the cushions and pillows makes for a easy design statement. The simplicity of this setting remains dynamic through its minimalism.
The absence of other colored décor keeps your attention on that fantastic pattern.

If you find a bold pattern you love, don't overcomplicate it. In outdoor areas flowers and nature are often enough of a addition that adding different color or patterned pillows and colored accessories can result in too much of a good thing and can be overwhelming.

Be simple be impactful.

If I had the time and resources to design a outdoor living area for myself right now, here's what my inspiration board would look like:

Designer's are often victim to the adage: "A gourmet chef that goes home and makes macaroni and cheese."

Our homes are often the last thing we get to. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about someone else's space and not my own.

*Sigh, someday. In the meantime, here's my dream world:

I have pretty basic gray and white house, so I would layer color and pattern with metal and wood tones to add some outdoor pizzazz to a otherwise non-noteworthy exterior. I love outdoor parties, and would set the scene with accessories and serveware that picks up on the colors and tones from the furniture and fabric.

Harking back to earlier tips, group your accent colors into three or more items and repeat them on different levels for maximum impact. (floor rugs, pillows, table accents, wall art, etc).

Get this look:

Restoration Hardware

Floor Cushions ~ Outdoor Pillows: Yellow & Linen ~ Outdoor Pillows: Orange & Red ~ Blue Pillow

Pottery Barn

Chairs ~ Drum Accent Table ~ Metal Lanterns ~ Drink Dispenser ~ Ceramic Lanterns ~ Shell Bowl

Ballard Design: Outdoor Fabrics

Outdoor Living Photos curtsey of Canadian Home and Garden - one of my favorites! Please select the designer's name below each photo (or click on the photo for some) to access photo credits and a link back to the source.

Be inspired!

~ Kelly



4th of July, Small Town Style

I spent the 4th of July weekend enjoying the big way my small hometown celebrates the 4th of July.

I live in a tiny agricultural community west of Rockford that takes our 4th of July parade VERY seriously.

Although we can't boast the splendor of a big city parade like Macy's with their floats and balloons … (Although one year someone tried to float a huge balloon of Uncle Sam down the street, but the trees got to him and it ended badly. Nothing like a rapidly deflating Uncle Sam to put the kids off their candy. Yikes!) … we do our small town best.

And give out candy. Lots and lots of candy.

Here's a few images I took from our parade. Enjoy!

The parade always opens with the motorcycles. They wiz by and leave the rest of the parade 10 minutes behind them.

Let's just say the marching band does NOT keep up with them.

The motorcycle portion of the parade does not typically shovel out candy as they zing by - so inevitably there is at least one irritated and disappointed child that slams their candy bucket down and goes: "That's it? I showed up for this?! Where's my freaking candy!?"

Okay, so maybe that was me as a child, and I'm projecting. But you can definitely see the dismay on their faces. Can’t you?
















Fine. Maybe he's okay with a empty bucket. (My nephew, Aidan.)

Which leads me to two illustrations.
Good candy thrower:

Look at the wind up! Candy flew for miles after this throw!

Actually it's all in the release and not the wind up. So many candy throws go wrong when they release on the downward slope then the candy gets bounced off the asphalt.

I think most of us know what this candy is like. It starts out like a bright and shiny hopeful dream, then you crunch down on loose pea gravel and your world is never quite the same.

And our second exhibit: the bad candy thrower ...

Don't eat it! Throw it!

This left all the little kids hopefully clutching their candy buckets watching her float pass by staring in horror as she steadily consumed their candy.

Okay, maybe I'm projecting again. She just wasn't doing her job well. *Geesh.

And - Oh! - the vintage cars. So wonderful!

Riding shotgun on her 93 Birthday!

Check out the license plate!

They even had their fans dress in green for a prime photo op.

Yes, it was a coincidence, but such a fantastic one.

Our local coffee place:

The man in the background either knows the driver or LOVES their coffee. I'm going with the latter because I waved vigorously too, only because they do have great coffee.

The "good" candy thrower was riding in the back of the Coffee truck FYI.

My favorite, the McClure Farm Truck.

And the license plate says it all:

"Ol Salt 6"

Army Jeeps are so cool.

I don't know what type of a car this is, but I love that they stuck a bow on it, and off they went.

If I was naming this truck I would call her "Glammy" for the Glamorous Truck she is.
Although the man with the tall socks probably wouldn't agree.

Anyhow, it's a great bow.

Everything gets decorated in our parade. Ev-ery-th-ing. No exception.

Pony, here's your bow for your tail, hold still while we paint you, and here's your Hawaiian 4th of July lei, and the sparklers for your mane. Now you're perfect.

It also cracked me up that this tini-tiny, little pony had two lead ropes held by different people … must be a feisty pony.


Egad! Another feisty pony requiring multiple lead ropes! These ponies were NOT getting away from this parade today.

I won't even comment on this decked out diva, except for, Wow.
Love the little hat and the little flag ribbons in her mane.

My horses would FREAK the heck out if I put something like that on their heads. You wouldn't need two lead ropes, you'd need a elephant dart gun. This is why I'm not in the parade with them amongst other reasons.

We were in no short supply of tractors.

This part of the parade opened with the self proclaimed John Deere Ambassador.

Shirts were not a requirement. Hmmm.

Vintage tractors were abundant and their drivers coordinated in theme and color.

I can't take how cute he is in his orange t-shirt.

By the way, harking back to my earlier comment on the disastrous Uncle Sam balloon … I do believe this was the only balloon in the parade. I hope it survived. Notice the low power lines in the background.

If your tractor did not work …. as we like to say here at the office "Ehhhhh, no problem!"

We'll pull your oversized trailer with our hoof bedazzled pony!

Kidding, kidding.

Glitter toes here was pulling these two:

What a good dog!

More fantastic cars:

I call this one "Redlicious" although I have no authority to name any of these cars.

Pure Classic.

This car should have been playing Perry Como and driving out of a old movie with a car full of kids with glasses like Ralphie in the Christmas Story.




(Thank you Google Images)

I don't know why, but the kids that SHOULD have been riding in that car need these glasses to complete this totally ridiculous image in my head. And the sparkly hat too. Amen.

Check out the front of this car and the perfect detail job.

And last, but not least … zoom, zoom.

On to more practical matters of business … tow trucks!

I got a huge kick out of this parody: The modern truck hauling their vintage tow truck.

Which by the way do you see the tent I kept having to shoot through!!?? We got here 45 minutes before the parade to stake out a spot, and these people erect their giant red tent right next to us 2 minutes before the whole thing kicks off.
Oh man, anger and rage in spades.

Who does that?! I had to frame my pictures between their tent posts. Grrrr.

Also humorous, these boys (pictured above left) were stationary the whole parade and then the BIG truck comes through and they shot to their feet and went running out to the truck.

I bet they thought this truck was throwing full size candy bars. No such luck boys.

Oh how times change.

We've gone from this: a one row corn picker …

… to THIS Monster. Wow progress.

I always find the veteran part of the parade very touching.

Here's my 2nd cousin who just returned home from Iran.

Edward's Apple Orchard supplied the float and a well earned platform to welcome this solider home.

Joining him in this procession was this gentlemen representing the Lost War also known as the Korean War:

And this lady makes me tear up every time. She is in every parade holding her POW-MIA flag. I wonder who she lost.

Each year this part of the parade for WWII veterans gets smaller and smaller.

Always breaks my heart we are losing the men and women from our greatest generation daily.

The Firemen did a incredible tribute to 9-11.

A moment of silence in remembrance of this date and those lost. The men on each side of the flags held firemen's axes.

This part of the parade gave me goosebumps. The parade announcer asked for silence and such a hush fell when this group walked by.

Amazing - all these little kids and not one peep. Such a powerful moment.

Firefighters in agricultural and rural communities serve such a vital role.   They will be the first on scene at a emergency of any type before paramedics from the surrounding cities can arrive. We rely on them to save our farms, those that work them, and all the lives of those who live in the surrounding rural communities.

We are so grateful to our firemen.

Cutest Kid Award:


She kept wondering out in to the street to get the crushed candy. Notice her very attentive father luring her off the road with a tootsie pop. (His hand pictured right.)

Smart Dad Award. Bribery and distraction, often the best method.

So as the parade starts to wind down and paraders with trash cans of candy get fewer and fewer.

The kids start to look like this:

The Bible School Float was a little weary after a few hours in the sun.

Snap out of it, and throw us some candy!

Poor little thing.

Some of the adults on the floats start showing their lack of enthusiasm for the heat as well …

I like to call this picture, "Guess whose no longer having fun?"
Hint: She's at the front of the float not smiling.

Even the dogs in the trucks hauling floats look weary.

Kudos on the wax job, you can see me snapping pictures in the reflection of the truck  =)

Kids stop running for candy and latch on to anything cold.

She gets Best Dressed Award.

And finally … The horses and the guy with the shovel always bring up the rear of the parade.

Who in the world bedazzled all these hooves?!

Such a sweet horse. I think she knows she has precious passengers to carry.

(I do believe she has the remnants of someone's flower bed in her mouth … oops.)

I love kid's saddles. On a big horse you can never find a girth long enough to hitch the saddle to. Luckily they made it to the last punch and these two little dolls are light enough not to off balance the saddle's weight.

Good thing or you end up with road rash and a saddle around the horse's belly. One of the many perils we face to parade in style.

I found it very apropos that the last picture of the day of the last parader was the very well appointed bow on this horse's tail.

I call this picture "The End".

~ Kelly