Best plants to enhance a shaded area

Jul 21, 2017

Deck area surrounded by greenery

I love plants and truly enjoyed working alongside, as a blogger, with Costa Farms for this sponsored post. The opinions stated here are my own. For more updates on their products and gardening ideas, you can always follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram.


When it comes to plants and flowers, I want them all! I'm so appreciative of the good energy they carry and how they unintentionally can bring a fresh look everywhere they are placed. When I designed our new deck area I've envisioned it to be surrounded by plants. But I have a confession, my plant selection for this shaded area was very peculiar because I wanted the plants to be green and white. If you ask me why, the only reason I could think of was because of its simplicity. I'm always attracted to simple and minimalist spaces, so for my outdoor shaded area is no wonder that I wanted just that: simplicity.

Costa Farms Plant Library

I'm not an expert in this area, but I know I can always count on Costa Farms when it comes to choosing the right plants. On their website you can find, among other things, a "Plant Library" with an amazing explanation for each of them. I also had the opportunity to talk with Justin who works with Costa Farms and he gave me some great ideas on what plants would do best under our mango tree.

Swingasan and small deck

Ideal plants for under the tree
After going through Justin's suggestions, I opted for these beautiful plants I'm about to share. Keep in mind that the plants that I'm using are for shaded area or part sun.

White Diamond Caladium"Grown exclusively for its foliage, caladiums offer green arrow-shaped leaves variegated in cream, red, or pink. They go dormant in winter, but pop back up in spring". And because like I mentioned before, I love simplicity, the Variegated White Diamond was the one that I chose on the right side of the deck.

White Diamond Caladium
Caladium plant for shaded area

Alocasia: "...big, bold and dramatic, a few of these as a focal point will create a wall of color and texture behind your patio". The perfect backdrop for the deck! The big leaves of this plant and its form, bring an added touch of elegance to this shaded area.

Alocasia plant for shaded area
Alocasia plant for shaded area

Vinca (Annal): As an accent to the Alocasias  I added the Vinca to bring in a bit of the white I love so much under these big plants. There are two characteristics that I really love about the Vinca: 1. these "nonstop flowers show from early summer till fall" and 2. it "is drought tolerant and requires almost no maintenance".

Vinca plant for shaded area

Carcuma Ginger: "This tropical shows off tulip-like flowers on and off all summer long with attractive foliage. In winter, it goes dormant (loses all its leaves), but comes back again the next spring". I really love how elegant this flower looks and if you look very closely, you'll notice it has little purple flowers inside some of its petals. This makes it perfect to pair it down with the Persian Shield.

Carcuma Ginger plant for shaded area
Carcuma Ginger plant for shaded area

Persian Shield: The color of the leaves of this plant its unbelievable! It's a deep almost iridescent purple which makes it perfect as an accent. I mixed the Persian Shield with the Carcuma Ginger  and added these to the exterior borders of the deck.

Persian Shield and Carcuma Ginger plants

The perfect mix of plants
Having a variety of plants under our mango tree is such a treat for the eyes. These plants really have enhanced this shaded area by adding a rich variety of textures and forms. Our little corner now feel energized and welcoming thanks to all these beautiful plants from Costa Farms!

Deck surrounded by plants

Have you created a little outdoor corner with plants recently? If so, which plants did you choose?

Succulents, Carcuma Ginger and Persian Shield


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Refresh your dining room with some basic pieces

Jul 17, 2017

Refreshed dining room ideas

I'm so honored to be part of the BHG Live Better Network where, as a blogger, I've received compensation by Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart. The opinions stated here are my own. For more updates on their products and decor ideas, you can always follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

For awhile now I've been dreaming about a dining room refresh. And after changing some basic furniture and accessories, I was able to achieve that upgraded look I was looking for. This month the styling/decor challenge assigned to the bloggers at the Better Homes & Gardens network was just that, to refresh a family gathering area. With so may amazing options available online and at Walmart stores, the only difficult part of this task was deciding which piece to choose.

Metal Farmhouse inspired chairs
Metal Farmhouse inspired chairs

As you might have guessed, I ended up choosing accessories that could easily flow with the rest of my neutral palette. I started by selecting the dining chairs. The Collin Silver Dining Chairs from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart come in a set of two and they are a contemporary version of those Farmhouse style chairs. 

Distressed gray rug brings interest
Distressed gray rug brings interest

An area rug comes in handy when trying to define a space. This Gray Distressed Ogee from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart comes in different sizes; from 22" x 34" to 9' x 12'. I used a 5' x 7' which I think goes very well in this space but would have love to try the 7' 6" x 9' 5".

Black matte silverware for contrast
Black matte silverware for contrast
These black matte silverware is also from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart. I bought each piece separately in stores. Check your local store for this and other styles.
I set the table with some beautiful plates also from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart. The Bramley Gray Crackle Glaze style is hand-crafted with a rustic finish and black matte back; a strong trend nowadays. I combined the diner plate with the Ashmoor Salad Plate (also from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart) and some fun wood bowls I already had at home.

Simple galvanized centerpiece with succulents

I managed to keep the centerpiece simple with the Better Homes & Gardens Serve Caddy (a set of galvanized buckets and a tray). A couple of succulents from my garden did the trick while keeping things fresh and modern.

Plants and natural elements dining table decor
Glass lanterns and planters are also from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart. Check your local store for these and other styles
As you can see all it took for this dining room refresh was some basic and affordable key pieces that at the end paired perfectly with my style and the rest of the decor. There is a great selection of furniture pieces and accessories for the home that Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart offer for every style. Find yours here.

Plants and natural elements dining table decor


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Square basket pattern floating deck project

Jul 7, 2017

Placing final boards on floating deck

The process of creating our small floating deck under the mango tree has been a long one. Not because how difficult it was to built, but this area that I've envisioned and designed was built during a very rainy week. This, and besides the fact that my husband was my builder (and he works full-time), didn't stopped us from finishing this area.

Patio lights and playhouse

Why a deck?
Well, in this area we used to have the girl's playhouse. This house was made or wood but not the one that can resist probably our climate. We had this house for around 2 years but then it started to fall down in areas that could become dangerous to the girls.
So, with much sadness, I decided to get rid of it and to create this deck which I knew the girls would love to use to play.
Another reason that we decided on building this deck area was because grass never grows under this mango tree. No matter the time and effort placed on watering and taking care of it, it just never happened. So the less we see of the dead grass patches, and the more we can get out of our patio; the better!

Before deck under tree

I've previously shared here my initial plans for this area. Take a look at my vision!

The actual building process:
My husband has been for a while an avid Pinterest fan for all things "built with wood". He was the one to suggested to make this floating deck with a square basket pattern instead of the regular placing of the boards. He found this great tutorial online which helped him in building the deck.
My husband started the project by placing 5 concrete deck blocks (from the HomeDepot) which easily allowed him to create the base frame. He used the fifth one in the center for support. After leveling these, he started to build the outer frame by joining the corner of the 2x4 with screws. He then also level this frame.

Concrete deck blocks for floating deck
These metal pieces called joist hangers served as support for the two central long beams that created the four quadrants. The rest of the beams in each quadrant were also joined to the central one by more joist hangers.
Concrete deck blocks for floating deck

My husband then placed the inner support beams according to the square basket pattern. There is a 16" space in between these beams and the inner area of the base frame was divided into 4 quadrants to allow the square basket pattern. As seeing in the photo below.

Framework for deck quadrants

After all these sections were correctly leveled, the next step was to create a border before installing the top boards. For this he used 1x8 Weathershield Preasure-Treated board and left an overhang all around.

Deck border with overhang
Deck border with overhang

To finish this project the top boards (1x4) were placed according to the square basket pattern.
Two coats of Behr's Premium Semi-Transparent Weather Proofing All-In-one Wood stain & Sealer in "Coffee" color made the trick.

Final top boards for deck pattern
Staining wood deck

Now that this is all set, lets go out and search for plants! Stay tuned for this event!

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Front door brought back to life

Jul 6, 2017

Front door brought back to life

My front door has always been one of my favorite architectural elements in our home. Some of the houses around the neighborhood still have this original wood door with it's circular (or in other cases, diamond like) vision lite. When we moved in, this front door was painted with a dull dark brown color that didn't enhance its beauty.

Neutral gray painted front door

Being a neutral palette lover, I decided back then to paint this door gray and for this I used Home Depot's Behr Dolphin Fin color (#790C-3).

Harvest inspired front door

After a while, I got tired of this color and wanted to use a brighter hue, which was not a thing I usually do. I then painted the front of the door in a bright yellow color, again from Home Depot's Behr brand. To tell you the truth this color only made me happy through last year's Fall season because it created a great contrast base against my DIY wreath for my Fall Porch.


Front door brought back to life

Bringing this door to its roots:
Now I wanted to bring our front door back to life, back to its roots. And for this I started by stripping all the old layers of paint with a miracle product called Citristrip! I cannot tell you enough good things about it, but to name a few:
- this smelled so fresh and incredible
- I have sensitive skin and was able to manage this product without consequences
- it worked so quickly and removed all that old paint
Now I wanted to remove every bit of paint in all the doors in my house! (P.S. this is not a sponsored or paid post. I just really love how it worked.)

Process on how to remove paint from a front door

After I removed the heavy layers of paint, what remained was sort of a dark film over the original wood which I was able to easily remove by sanding. I first used Diablo's premium 5 in. 80-Grit universal discs with Hook and Lock backing and ended up wit a 120-Grit for a soft finished.



Final touch
To finish with this door and because its natural beauty was too much to hide behind a color, I simply applied two coats of Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane protective clear finish. In between coats I again used my 120-Grit sanding paper to eliminate any rough patches.

Front door brought back to life

I really love how this product brought back to life the grain of this old door without adding a glossy finish.

Front door brought back to life

What do you think of this procedure? Would you dare to bring back to life an old door or piece of furniture with this process? Share your thoughts with me!

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