My Patio was in Disrepair
When we moved into our home a couple years ago, I knew our back patio had major potential, but it was a big eye sore at the time. The patio was HUGE and looked out to the small, beautiful lake that our home backs up to (the reason we bought the house); however, the previous owner had five foot shrubs surrounding 90% of the patio, blocking the view. Additionally, the patio was in disrepair. It was probably original to the home and most of it was crumbling. You couldn't walk outside barefoot because of the rough, pebbled finish that hadn't entirely flaked off. It was definitely not somewhere we wanted to spend our time, though it felt like, in theory, it should be a place where we should want to spend ALL of our time.
Last spring, we decided to chop down all of the tall bushes surrounding the crumbling patio to reveal the gorgeous view. It was intense, sometimes painful work (they were pokey holly bushes!) and three bulky waste pickups from the city, but the view we uncovered was totally worth it. The patio felt so bright and open and welcoming. We started to sit outside more because it no longer felt like we were trapped and instead we were enjoying our most favorite aspect of our home–the view.
With the lake now visible from the patio, we decided to bite the bullet and get a new patio later that summer. It was expensive, but we thought of it like adding another room to our home. I could see bike riding, chalk drawing, eating, grilling, bubble blowing and running around barefoot six months out of the year happening in this space. Best decision ever! The new patio is so smooth and flat and non-crumbly. We use it allllll the time.
So with this clean, functional framework in place, the decorating could begin! As obvious as it sounds, I had never really approached an outdoor space like my inside spaces before and I felt a little intimidated about what to do. We had several pieces from our old house, but everything was hodge podged and not really anything that I absolutely loved. Most things we'd owned for many years and were not something I would choose today.
I began to think of my patio as three different zones: (1) the open playing area, (2) the eating area, and (3) the lounging area.
Consider the View from Inside: Bring the Outside in
The open playing area is the zone you can see from inside the living room, which is why I zoned this area like I did. I didn't want to have any big pieces of furniture to block the view from inside and it needed to be really pretty (which I'm still working on) since this is what we actually see most of the time. This zone is an extension of our living room! The window facing the patio is the giant artwork for our living room! Clearly, friends, the living room view is important and my answer to the pretty factor was PLANTS. Lots of them. Big, small, hanging, on stands, on the ground. Succulents, cacti, ferns, flowers. Give me alllll the plants. At Daly's suggestion, I sprinkled wild flower seeds in the garden bed that borders the patio, but they didn't really work out this year (Wrong sun conditions? Not enough watering when initially planted?). I will try again next year.
Simple Outdoor Dining on the Patio
The dining area was pretty easy. I traded in my larger, older outdoor dining set for a smaller round one since most of the time it's just the three of us eating. Also, this way, we can all still see the view while dining. I have visions of a wooden picnic table for this area though. What do you all think? Stick with the small round metal set or switch over?
DIY Modern Outdoor Patio Lounge
The lounging area was the most challenging and rewarding zone. We just had a bunch of lawn chairs and lounge chairs, but no sofa or coffee table. The jumping off point for this space was the giant wooden platform sofa that Patrick built. I found a how-to guide online and Patrick went into the garage and made it. I chose a large sofa (8ft long, 3 ft deep) to match the scale of the space and to make sure Patrick was extremely challenged when it came time to move it to the backyard.
Next, I realized I really enjoyed the color scheme from my plant shelf wall. Dark greens, peaches, dusty oranges - so I decided to carry that color palette throughout the rest of the patio. Given this, my mom (Janie's Upholstery) made giant dark green cushions to go with the sofa. Note that foam this large is actually really expensive and I might have rethought the size if I had researched this beforehand. However, I think we still came out ahead by making this sofa rather than if we had purchased something like it. I added the yellow/white chairs because I had them on hand and I think they look nice with the sofa (for now).
As for the coffee table, we went cheap since the sofa cushions had been a bit pricey. We stained/water sealed an old pallet from one of our furniture deliveries at the shop and then added 4 inch block legs. Instant coffee table! Also, the wood planks matched the aesthetic of the platform sofa perfectly. Yahoo! PS Patrick was happy he didn't have to build a coffee table.
Can Uncovered Patios have Rugs?
Next, I faced a very serious question: whether or not to get an outdoor rug. Pros: I knew it would really make the space in terms of aesthetics and layout. Cons: Can you even use an outdoor rug on an uncovered patio? Will it just fall apart? Most outdoor rugs I saw were used in covered outdoor areas.
When I visited a friend who had recently purchased an outdoor rug for her uncovered patio, I decided I definitely should go for the outdoor rug. Having an uncovered area can't mean you just don't ever have an outdoor rug, right? Uncovered patios need beautiful rugs too. I'm so happy I did it. This made a huge difference in defining the space. Before it just seemed like several chairs randomly clustered around the chiminea. With the rug, the space became a legit outdoor lounge.
Speaking of the chiminea–it's one of my favorite parts of the patio. We have several giant trees in the backyard which are pretty and provide shade, but they are messy, always shedding branches and other stuff onto the patio. We collect the sticks and put them in our stick pile, then use them for kindling to start fires. I love the smell. Nothing is more relaxing than sitting on the sofa, watching the lake and smelling the fire.
The last addition to the lounge was the awning. Early this summer, the previous owner of our home called and said he had an awning for our home that he wanted to give us. Now this was a game changer in terms of function. With the awning we could actually use the lounge in the heat and/or rain. Plus, it created a shaded usable play area for Caroline behind it. We paint and play with play-doh on the table and put the kiddy pool back here when swimming on hot summer afternoons.
My Patio's Come a Looooong Way
Though there are things I still want to do to this space in the future (like working on the bordering flower beds), the patio has come a loooooong way in two years. From a crumbling holly bush cave to a modern eclectic hangout, this is the story of my patio. So far.
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