Monday, July 16, 2012


After a week in Michigan dealing with temperatures flirting with 100, I returned to the Hudson Valley this weekend where walking in our front door felt like slipping into a steamy, sticky sauna.  But, instead of complaining about the things I don't like about summer...heat, humidity, mosquitoes, deer flies, snakes slithering into our house, "charming" old homes with no air-conditioning...oh, did I mention the humidity and wretched heat???  ANYWAY, I do enjoy entertaining outside, summer barbecues, a cup of coffee in the morning on the front porch (if we had one), watching the approach of an afternoon thunderstorm and gazing at the twinkling stars in the dark night sky.  I love creating comfortable outdoor spaces just as much as I do interiors, and this fun spot to plop and enjoy the sounds of summer is no different.  Catching up with friends a few days ago, someone asked about outdoor solutions that wouldn't cost a fortune.  The main concern for these outdoorsy folks was finding shade in their tree-free backyard without spending a lot of dough.  I've talked about sail cloth before (purchased on sites like and amazon for around $100) but what if you want to spend less than $20?  Believe it or not, you don't have to get hot and bothered in order to stay cool this summer!
A little secret I love to share for many DIY projects comes in an inexpensive little package at Home Depot and Lowes...drop cloths.  Made of sturdy fabric in a clean, monochromatic camel-tone (can also be dyed fairly easily in a large bucket with water and fabric dye from Michael's arts and crafts for under $5), they come in sizes from 6'x8' to 12'x12' for under $15.  I've used them for everything from curtains and pillow cases for outdoor sofas to slipcovers and, in this case, the perfect spot to catch a little shade.  With a few pieces of bamboo and rope from the garden center, make holes in each corner, add grommets and place the bamboo through the hole.  With a little sweat and no tears, you can chill out in a shady spot and enjoy the summer!