Eye on the Prize

When we put an addition on to our former house in 2003—exactly 15 years ago—I’ll never forget hunkering down during Hurricane Isabel, praying that nothing would happen to the framing that had gone up out back. In a word (or two), it survived. Fast forward to Hurricane Florence, and wouldn’t you know it, we’re in the middle of another major renovation! Odd bookends, for sure.

We’re grateful that the storm’s rain isn’t forecast to be that bad, but when your property is exposed down to the dirt with a hill in back that slopes toward the house, well, I’ve had visions of muddy rivers flowing inside. But thanks to our contractor, we’ve got all kinds of silt fences up now, and sand bags by our back door just in case. They came the other day to clear out all the site debris and trash, and here’s the silver lining: We saw our entire deck for the first time, sans crap all over it!

The grill station components also arrived yesterday, where they’ll wait in our garage until Florence is gone from our lives, hopefully this time next week. Here’s the niche where it will go, along with a second set of steps. We once were thinking we wouldn’t do steps on this side, but I’m glad we did.

The grill and cabinetry will go into the niche behind the wall where the cedar railings attach.

Scott Brinitzer’s initial layout is dancing in my head right now, as I’m actually permitting myself to envision furniture going back up on this deck!


We already had a dining table and six chairs from Brown Jordan’s Roma collection, so we’ll place them where you see it on the plan. Here are a couple of the chairs, photographed at the other house:

We also have a Roma loveseat, which will go down by the fire table in place of two of the chairs on the plan above:

Photograph from Brown Jordan


We needed additional furnishings to complement what we already had, so I turned to my friend Liz Allner at AmericanEye at the Washington Design Center, which sells the Brown Jordan lines. Because our house veers contemporary, I immediately glommed on to their Fusion collection for the seating near the fire pit and on the deck near the grill station:

Photograph from Brown Jordan


We’ll place three of these chairs around a “chat table.” I’m irrationally excited about having a chat table — it’s higher than a coffee table but lower than a dining table, what a concept! Perfect for cocktails, and even for informal dining. I didn’t want to go all matchy-matchy with the chairs, so I chose BJ’s Pasadena table:

Photograph from Brown Jordan


Back at AmericanEye, Liz helped us pick out finishes and fabric. The Fusion chairs will arrive as you see them in the tear sheet, with that deep brown finish. Here are the samples for the cushions—our Roma loveseat will also get cushions in this fabric—plus the finish for the chat table.


I think these dark colors will look good against the pale synthetic decking (which I ADORE — no upkeep!) and the pea gravel that will surround the fire table:

Photograph from All Backyard Fun

A quick note on the fire table: We weren’t originally planning on this elaborate setup outside our lower-level door, UNTIL we took Jim down to Hilton Head last year for his 50th birthday. I surprised him with a reservation in the presidential suite at the Westin, which has a HUGE terrace looking out toward the ocean … and a fire table with seating around it.

The four of us spent each evening out there and it’s one of the fondest memories I have from that trip—or any other, for that matter. That’s when we decided to go all in at home!

Here’s a (very rough) before shot of the fire pit area and the gas line waiting to be hooked up. We’ll paint the screen wall in the same solid stain as the house:


So, while we wait ever so patiently for Florence to pass through, the fire table is living with the grill station down in the garage, and my great friends Brian and Preston Key at N Route Delivery Services have been extraordinarily kind to hold on to the furnishings at their warehouse, even though they arrived months ago!

In addition to the furniture that lies in wait, the plantings should be going in this time next week, fingers crossed. It truly does take a team to get this kind of a project done, and I’m fortunate enough to be acquainted with talented professionals that are making it happen, nature be damned! I’m hoping for a warm October so we can maybe get some use out of the deck before fall and winter set in. The post will be the “after” shots!


  1. Hi Jenifer!
    Your new outdoor living spaces will be a great success! I have been your follower for several years now, and always enjoy reading your blog when it arrives in my email.

  2. Love it all! I’m excited for you. You are making great changes at a perfect time in your life. I hope it all goes easily. What a fabulous home you’ve created. Your mom would be so proud!!

  3. It looks absolutely amazing. You definitely will enjoy the fire feature especially since the big debut will have you ready for fall.

    • Jennifer Sergent says:

      Thanks Diane! The fire table actually has an insert for an ice bucket (!!), but it looks like we’ll have to wait for next summer for that. You can help us break it in 🙂

  4. Beautiful! And all of my favorite trade peeps too!

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