My Little Experiment

comments: 53


Last summer, when we redid the backyard, Andy built this pergola thing around our little dinner area, which is just off the studio. The yard is smaller than it looks, really — the studio was an addition built by the previous owner, who was a painter, and it takes up a fair amount of fairly little space to begin with. But it's enough for me. I hate taking care of too much.

Anyway, the pergola thing is lovely, and he built it from scratch without a pattern or whatever, just out of his own brilliant mind, and I love it. It's easier to see how it works if you click that first link; it's in the background, and then the top of it is here. The problem is that the table is excruciatingly sunny in the morning, which makes sitting there reading the paper or eating your toast a very uncomfortable experience. Sitting in your lovely white nightgown that your mother-in-law just sent you from Chicago while sweating your ass off (pardon me!) is not exactly what I had in mind. Too much reality in that lovely Out of Africa moment for me.

I thought about adding fabric panels around the east and south edges of the thing, but I could envision people getting all wrapped up, swatting at the stuff or it all just looking too much like a circus tent (and no air coming through). Also, there was the back of the fabric to consider; "inside" the tent, the right side would be facing. From outside, the back, unprinted side of any printed panels would look . . . like the back, unfinished side (exactly what it would be). Nah.


So, while I've never been a huge fan of bamboo blinds like this (though I like them better than matchsticks), I must say that I think this is going to work! Thrill-relief-thrill-relief. I'm sitting out here right now, typing this, and while there are strips of sunlight on the table, it is not a solar-bake-oven. I could not fy an egg on this table. And the bamboo slats do have a sort of oddly transparent quality, since they are not completely solid. They filter but don't entirely block. Perhaps this is why millions of people have been using them for millions of years. Honestly, you'd think I invented them, I'm so pleased.

And I must extend an enormous public thank you both to Cost Plus, who actually had what I wanted (the 3-foot ones), as many as I wanted (five), at the price that I wanted ($19.99), and to Andy Paulson, who hung these for me at the end of a long crazy-busy day, and didn't complain. That much. Maybe a little. But not much.


Perfect. What a great idea! Remember when you were thinking maybe a little more earthy, 70s thing, with the sage and the pottery and whatnot? There you go.

That's a great solution! Bamboo isn't my favourite material on earth, but it is very useful and has a nice cool vibe.

It's amazing what a little indoor decorating outside can do. Last summer at our previous house I hung some gauzy curtains across the front of the carport, to block the view of the alley, and serve as a stage backdrop for my outdoor recitals. Every time I would see the breeze moving the drapes around, I would smile. I loved seeing the soft movement, like a slow dance :)

It looks lovely cozy!!

Alicia...."sweating your a## off..."....I hear ya! You never fail to make me giggle, girl!
The pergola looks absolutely HEAVENLY!

Your pergola looks wonderful - you still have the parasols on top?
When I was a kid, we had a porch at our beach house that had the most wonderful ratty old furniture, and when it rained, heavy canvas blinds that came down and made you cozy and comfortable. Your pergola reminds me of that somehow.

Gorgeous, Alicia. The perfect solution.

I remember my grandparents having them in their house, and thinking they were SOOOO 70's and not liking them.

Well, they're on our back porch, and in the last year I've come to adore them...even considered putting them IN the house :o egads!

That looks fantastic! And what a nice handyman you have ;)

Add me to the gang- it looks perfect. The black stain, the lantern, the bamboo. I am a HUGE fan of outdoor rooms and secret hideaways, yours is lovely.

I love bamboo and matchstick blinds.

I live in the desert and have them on my inside windows in the summer to filter the light. They look nice with my tab tops hanging on each side.

Elaine SoCal

I can see plenty of lovely Out of Africa moments happening around that pergola - planes landing on the road, wild animals coming to the end of the garden to eat the roses, servants running to and fro with coffee (grown in the next door garden, of course). Fabulous. Well done Andy and well-done bamboo blinds.

Our patio has the same morning sun problem - What a great idea!

I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and just realized we share the same last name (by marriage) - your husband's family isn't from Minnesota, are they? :)

This is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing. We're attempting to put something similar in our back yard, now that the old shed has been removed. But I keep wanting it to feel enclosed some. I wonder if this would stand up to the winds we get?

That looks like a beautiful area. It would be a wonderful place for morning tea and soft boiled eggs and toast.

Elizabeth says: June 03, 2007 at 11:26 AM

It looks fantastic! You know, something else you could do (that would take a lot of time) would be to grow wisteria up and over the pergola. It would provide shade AND pretty purple flowers! My aunt has her patio shaded with a trellis with clematis growing all over it. I can't wait to own my own house so I can do something like that!

Wow. This gives me so much hope for our sad yard, which is definitely in the "before" stages right now. Andy made that pergola?! It's gorgeous, and the shades add just the right touch. I am a little hung up on the image of my guests getting wrapped up in the tent of fabric - sounds entertaining!

Just perfect! You are so creative.

It's a stunning area. You are lucky to have such an oasis!

Looks so nice out there! You have a genuine little backyard oasis. Andy is the sweetest. I really don't think there are any like him left floating around. Nope, they're all gone. Claimed, rather.

PS - I am sitting here eating steel cut oats a la Alicia, as I like to call them. :) I just adjust the hunt-and-peck treasures to what I have around. Yum.

That looks so nice!! I love how when you have a problem you always find a pretty way to fix it. Enjoy your coffee, dahling.

Sigh. As usual, I'm inspired like all get-out by your vision. Especially as I look out at uncushioned chairs, an un-chaired dining table and some saw horses on my back (pea-gravel) patio. Oh, don't forget the beagle-chewed vollyball net. And the patch of no grass. This is my lesson in patience, I suppose.

Love it! The bamboo blinds are great outside because they are so earthy. We had those at our last place on the back porch, really helped when we wanted privacy or shade.

Love the other pic with the parasols, so lovely!

Aren't Hubby's great at that stuff??!!

I love your pergola!

So pretty. Great job. Do they way to and fro ad bonk folks in the head if it's windy? Are they attached on the bottom somehow? I love them with the black!!
We are forever putting up our big fat umbrella on the deck and then taking it down. Then up. Then down. Frustrating....specially when it breaks.

Oops my earlier post should have read: sway to and fro and bonk folks in the head...

That pergola is divine!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at