DIY Dream Backyard


A few months back, I caught my husband rearranging the tools in the basement. This sent off the wife-o-meter. He was in trouble. In a bad way. You see, actors in Los Angeles spend a lot of time waiting around for auditions and jobs. In Tim’s case, he was between episodes of his current role portraying the Attorney General on the new hit Paramount Network series “Yellowstone", featuring Kevin Costner.

I was keenly aware upon marrying an actor that I was dealing with a different breed of man. During my own career in the tv & film business, I had one rule: Do not date actors! They are undoubtedly entertaining charming & handsome devils; but I had a bad experience with one, which involved a unicycle. Done. No more actors.

Then I married an actor. Tim is the nicest guy I’ve ever met. I adore him. However, after twenty four years of being betrothed to a thespian, I’ve learned all of the cues, shall we say, of the onset of the “actor’s blues”. With too much time on one’s hands, he begins to feel worthless. The sorting of the tools is a precursor to this malady. A regular job requires the daily attendance of the employee. Actors hover and wait in their homes for the next glimmer of hope in the shape of an acting gig. He’d worked his way to the top shelf of his thousands of tools. This worries me. I know that when he shifts over to sorting through the camping gear, we’re in full crisis mode. I stare blankly at the crate full of sleeping bags and flashlights, searching my brain for a distraction when my stroke of genius hits.

“Honey. I think it’s time to dismantle the half-pipe.” His piercing blue eyes stop and stare into mine. It is a loaded suggestion, but these are desperate measures. The dude needs a project. I stare strongly back at him, internally basking in my genius-ness.

“But what about the boys?” he asks.

Okay, a little backstory here. When my twin man-children finally settled upon a sport in 7th grade, Tim and I were all in. The twins had struggled with baseball and football, so when they discovered skateboarding...what? You don’t think skateboarding is a sport? Well in California, it is a rite of passage. This choice of sport, however, was challenging for a family living in the Santa Monica mountains. It is absolutely beautiful here, but there are no sidewalks. Flat concrete spaces are nowhere to be found. I found myself driving the five miles into town so they could practice something called an ‘Ollie’ in the local grocery store parking lot. (The nearest skatepark was many miles away).

I would drop them off and quickly speed away. You see, skaters have a cool factor. I didn’t want to embarrass them. The drop off was always intense, usually a few blocks away so their friends didn’t see their abhorrent Mother, who really wanted to squeal “Make good choices!!!” out the window. As I pulled away, I thought: “Oh, my God. They’re going to turn into those kids. You know the ones. Smoking in front of the laundromat. Stealing shopping carts. Drugs!!!!”

Within a week, there was a half-pipe the size of a whale in my backyard.

Take a look at this beast!

Back in the basement, I watched as Tim lowered a hacksaw next to the spud wrench. I could see the fog lifting. Note: This is an integral time to introduce a fresh new idea! The ‘Actor’s Blues’ are mercurial. He can slip right back into actor despair in a flash! I had to think on my feet.

“They’re 20 years old Tim. They can drive to a skate park. An arbor! Let’s put an arbor in the backyard!” First of all, I NEVER have EVER used the word arbor, so I don’t know where the heck that came from. I’m a Southern girl. We have gazebos.

“An arbor?” Tim, a Chicago boy who had an obvious appreciation of the word, headed to the backyard where we stood and stared now at the weathered gray half-pipe.

The following day, Tim began to dismantle the half-pipe, saving some of the good wood for the arbor. I searched Pinterest and found a simple cute structure from New York architecture firm Amber Freda.

I pulled a farm table out of storage and glossed it up. We bought koi and lily pads for the waterfall, which had not been in use for a while. Using reclaimed bricks from Malibu, Tim made a floor and added a tin roof.

I moved the table in and opted for a Moroccan vibe with a golden globe orb light fixture from World Market and copper hanging sculptures from Raffia Boutique. I went full on Martha Stewart and used black tapestry with gold inlays from an Estate sale as a table runner and added fabric inserts into the structure. As the whole family joined in, it became fun to search for little treasures and trinkets to hang in our new favorite space.

Since June, we have enjoyed many nice evenings in the arbor. My family from Oklahoma, my neighbors, and Tim sat in it and had a delicious meal on Father’s Day. He’s since gone back to work on Yellowstone. We have eliminated the actor’s blues. For now anyway. xoxo Lori


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