Home & Garden

Debbie Travis: Splashes of color add to backyard appeal

DEAR DEBBIE: Our urban backyard is “fenced off” by a concrete wall. It looks rather bleak. We love color and wonder if painting the concrete would be a mistake. It would cheer up the garden. Thanks.

– Monica

DEAR MONICA: There are so many ways to bring color to your backyard. Of course, nature is inspiring with all the brilliant blooms of spring and summer. But for a year-round solution, why not paint that wall? It’s easy to paint over exterior brick, stucco or concrete. Clean the surface with water and let dry for a day or two. Look for a high-quality, exterior water-based paint that is designed for this purpose, such as a porch and patio paint. Some come with primer mixed in, so you simply roll on one coat, two coats if there are deep crevices.

These paints can be mixed to the shade of your choice, so here’s where you can satisfy your craving for color. A blazing terra cotta orange will brighten up the dullest winter day, and resonates under the brilliant summer sun.

The side yard shown here has a Venetian sensibility set up with the timeless, classic styling of wrought aluminum deep seating by Hauser. With hundreds of fabrics from which to choose, you can layer more shades in your garden with colorful upholstery, or go with the fresh purity of white, which makes a sophisticated contrast amidst all the color.

Wooden fences, decks, shade roofs and pergolas are also surfaces to color. Match up paint with an exterior wood stain to unify the garden boundaries.

You also can accessorize your exterior living space with dashes of color. Hauser’s lime and orange torches are a great way to illuminate your backyard. Simply fill the canisters with citronella oil. Planters constructed of wood or metal can be painted in summer fresh designs, such as bold stripes. Or look for colorful fabric planters at Hauser (www.hauserstores.com) or your neighborhood garden store.

DEAR DEBBIE: I have a Cape Cod-style home that needs lots of work. I’ve completed most of the exterior and am looking for guidance on how to decorate the interior in keeping with this style. What do you suggest?

– Steven

DEAR STEVEN: These homes, typically one to 11/2 stories, were originally designed to best protect the settlers in New England from the brutal winter weather. Low ceilings and large central chimneys helped to keep out the chill. The steeply pitched roofs prevented snow from accumulating, and shutters held back the wind. Inside, wainscoting was applied in most of the rooms, a feature that is still popular today. Interior doors, cabinets, mantels and crown moldings are typically painted white, fresh and clean beside walls decorated in seaside shades of blue, sand and some red. This is a cottage style that features the look of wood and handmade furnishings, colorful quilts and sunny fabrics.