Designer Brian Patrick Flynn outfits his rustic cabin deck with modern outdoor furnishings and a dash of glamorous decor to create a distinctive dining area at his Blue Ridge mountain home.
Here’s how I think my summer BBQs will turn out: blue skies, very few clouds, warm sun, cool breeze, friends and dogs getting along, sliders on the grill, and pitchers of sweet tea. Here’s how they really go: 100% chance of rain, gray skies, humidity, friends with muddy shoes inside my living room, dogs fighting, pizza delivery, frizzy hair, mosquito bites, and power outages. When I bought my dream house in the north Georgia mountains, I was determined to create a magical, fail-safe place where summer shindigs could go off without a hitch, rain or shine. And that I did.
This April, as spring kicked winter to the curb, my contractor and I put the wheels in motion to transform the barren first-floor entry deck into a welcoming spot to grill out. First, we added a three-step tall set of 11-foot wide entry steps to broaden the space visually. Next, to provide shade, we built and installed a wooden pergola, then painted it black to match the exterior of the house.
In addition to supplying cover from the harsh summer sun, the pergola also provided vertical and horizontal surfaces to accommodate lighting. We outfitted the top of the pergola with industrial string lights fastened in place with cable tacks, and then my contractor added sconces by wiring them directly into the pergola’s vertical posts.
Now, I’m not a man who enjoys cooking at all, but grilling I can do. It’s all about how many steps are needed. If I have to prepare stuff before guest arrive, it’s not gonna happen, like, ever. But with grilling, it’s all about slapping patties down and waiting for them to go from pink to brown, and that I can do. So, to make the grilling out process easy and breezy, I broke the area up into zones: one for sitting down and seriously eating, and another for grilling and casually chit-chatting. The stainless steel Napolean grill is placed along the back railing with an unobstructed view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. So, not only can one focus on grilling their burgers, hot dogs, or kabobs, they can also give their eyes a nature-watching party.
Just a few steps from the grill sits a mobile wooden potting bench outfitted as a drink station complete with wine, beer, and garnishes on top and outdoor drinkware and dinnerware on the bottom. This self-serve situation allows guests to keep themselves hydrated (OR intoxicated) rather than waiting for their host (me) to bring drinks to them. There’s also a pair of Adirondack rocking chairs just a few feet from the drink station, allowing a couple of guests to keep the chosen grill master company while tending to the flames.
As far as softening the hard spaces of the deck were concerned, I used two different indoor-outdoor area rugs and some cushy outdoor pillows. The rockers are grounded by a faux zebra hide and a pair of striped floor cushions.
To delineate the dining area from the grilling space, I went with a woven jute rug which is neutral and nubby, introducing rustic texture to the space. To break up the wood-on-wood look, I filled rail planters with hot pink impatiens, then filled several free-standing planters with leafy green plants, hardy ferns and tiny arbor vitae.
Lastly, brown grommeted drapery panels soften the hard lines of the pergola posts and help break up the black. And although I don’t really need any privacy from the mountains, it’s nice to have that extra layer along the front of the deck which faces a road packed with hikers and bikers.
As for the dining situation goes, I’m not really big on entertaining a large number of guests — mostly because lots of people means lots of cleanup. No thanks! For me, six is the magic number. Throw in a few host gifts (for me) or guests who wanna stick around and help clean up or iron shirts and pants, I’ll push it to eight. To accommodate both, I chose a faux wood and metal Parsons-style table with a drop leaf. Once extended, it reveals a hidden umbrella hole. And let me tell you something: Should I ever decide to take the party out into the gravel area which is 100% exposed to the hot summer sun, that umbrella is a must-have. I chose black Sunbrella canvas to coordinate seamlessly with the all-black exterior of the house. This allows all of the plants and flowers to stand out.
The last few details of the grilling deck design were all about the dining area seating and dressing the table. Since the Parsons-style table is classic in style, but modern in function and construction (the faux wood top is engineered to require zero maintenance), I went with modern metal chairs. They’re black, sturdy, and streamlined, so they coordinate perfectly with the exterior, but they’re also stackable and won’t blow away in a crazy mountain wind storm. For a little touch of sophisticated glamour, I went with mercury glass floral vessels.
With the space complete, it’s now time to christen the deck. And while I’d like to say my very first visitors were some of my best human friends from the city, the truth of the matter is raccoons, foxes, and squirrels beat them to the punch.