For years, I’d look out the breakfast room window only to feel like my back patio was off limits. Largely because of the clutter that had accumulated there. But also because my landscaping plans were expensive and out of reach. I’m such an all or nothing girl it took me a while to realize I could start small with a budget-friendly back patio makeover.
A Simple Back Patio Makeover
Clutter is more powerful than we give it credit for. It can block our vision and keep us from seeing the potential in our homes. In fact, I know couples who move because they want a bigger yard when a little clean up and space planning might have changed their outlook. (Kind of like in Property Brothers or Love it or List It when a makeover reveals what was hidden behind clutter.)
In my case, we aren’t moving. And landscaping isn’t in the budget. So, I knew if I was going to fulfill my desire for an outdoor lifestyle, I’d have to start by cleaning up the mess I’d made in the backyard.
Clean the Space
So, one day I cleared off the patio and furnished it with the glider from the front porch. That simple change felt felt like I was putting a stake in the ground and claiming new territory.
Unfortunately, the string lights I’d hung on the patio a few years before no longer worked. Every time I saw those lights I thought “I need to take those lights down.” And there were a couple of other yard things on my mental to-do list. All those nagging little to-dos made my backyard feel like a constant burden.
But, once the patio and yard were cleaned up, my mind was free to think about how to decorate our small patio.
Space Planning for a Back Patio Makeover
Here are three things to keep in mind when planning a back patio makeover, or any room makeover.
- Mood – What I’ve come to realize is often our dream space isn’t necessarily about it looking like the inspiration photos we’ve gathered. It’s actually about a mood and enjoying a certain lifestyle. With that mind, arrange furniture and choose decor that fosters the mood you’re trying to create. I was going for an intimate mood where I imagined cozy conversation flowing over sweet tea. So, I arranged the chair and bench to face each other.
- Flow – Keep the overall design and flow in mind when you arrange the furniture. Will your furniture fit in your space? Does the arrangement block a pathway or door? Is it easy to walk around?
- Function – Choose furniture based on how you plan to use the space. A small glider bench and chair are perfect for my needs. Eventually, I want to be able to entertain in this space too. Larger furniture pieces like an outdoor dining table or adirondack chairs placed around a firepit will be perfect for that.
Choosing Outdoor Furniture
Choice of Materials
There are a lot of great outdoor materials to choose from, so be sure to research what materials can withstand the elements.
I considered putting the bench between my two crepe myrtle trees, but with this Texas heat and humidity, I was concerned it would rust. And that any cushions I put on it would fade. The end tables I used are actually for indoor use so they’re tucked under the patio to protect them from sun damage and rain.
With all the furniture I used for my back patio makeover covered, I feel like it will last a while.
Outdoor Furniture Arrangement
I knew I wanted an outdoor seating area that was suitable for conversation, reading, and maybe even working outdoors.
When I initially set the glider on the patio it felt so limiting, probably because it faced the backyard which made it difficult to do anything but sit and stare at the fence. Not what I had in mind.
That’s when I decided to add an inexpensive patio chair across from it to create the conversation area I wanted. I wanted to a place to set books or drinks, so picked up a set of wicker nesting tables at an estate sale and used those as occasional tables. An inexpensive outdoor rug from Walmart anchors the space and ties all the pieces together. Then, I accessorized the space with potted plants and an outdoor lantern I already had.
I may still want some seat cushions and to hang new patio lights, and our fence desperately needs to be replaced. But, I have a welcoming patio space that I allows me to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle I crave now.
Fun Things to Do in the Backyard
I have so many ideas for how I want to use our backyard, and I love that I don’t have to wait. Many of those ideas are things we can do now, while the backyard is still in progress.
- Get Some Sunshine – I’d love to start each day soaking in the sun as it rises over the fence. This is a great way to regulate your circadian rhythm and fall asleep faster at night.
- Yoga – Getting on the yoga mat for an outdoor morning practice seems like a fun idea.
- Play Yard Games – I have visions of playing badminton or horse shoe in the backyard.
- Have a Picnic – The romantic in me hopes we’ll throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic on the lawn sometime soon. I guess I should start by buying a picnic blanket.
- Garden – I’m planning to start an herb garden in my backyard. Walking outside to clip fresh basil for dinner seems so idyllic to me. This would be a great project to do with kids.
- Enjoy a Cold Treat – A covered patio provides a shady spot to enjoy a refreshing drink or cold dessert. You could let kids cool off with a popsicle or ice cream cone.
- Entertain – I look forward to having friends over and entertaining them on the back patio. Eventually, I want to replace the back door and window with french sliding doors to make it easy to move from the dining table to the patio. The backyard is also a great spot for a play date. The kids can play while the parents visit on the patio. Bonus points for adding a slip n slide or inflatable pool.
- Date Night – I hope to enjoy outdoor dates with my husband on our back patio. Quality time is my love language so the idea of sitting and visiting fills my cup. You and your spouse can have dinner al fresco then cuddle up on a bench or swing.
- Relax – The glider bench is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature when I need a break during the day. If you have a porch swing or a hammock you could even take a nap.
- Go Barefoot – There’s something so calming about going barefoot. I’m planning to enjoy the cool grass underneath my bare feet as often as I can.
- Roast S’mores – I can’t wait to do this. I just need a fire pit or chimenea first. If you have kids, you could even camp in your backyard, starting with outdoor movie night.
Now, there’s no more looking out the window longing for something that feels so out of reach. This process has taught me to value progress and to learn how to find ways to live in and appreciate the imperfect now. Who knew a simple back patio makeover could be so fulfilling?
For more outdoor living space ideas, read all about the magic that happens on my front porch.
That looks great!! I need to do mine.
Thank you! It’s amazing what a big impact small changes can have. If you need help with yours, just email me a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line QUICK FIX and I can make a few suggestions. Be sure to include what currently is and isn’t working with the photo. Then, I’ll send over a few tips to get you started. (This is a complementary service.)
Betsy Gambrell says
Love this! It’s amazing how a rug can create such a cozy feeling. Is the rug indoor/outdoor?
Thank you. The rug definitely made a big impact. I believe it is indoor/outdoor. If not there is a blue striped rug by Safavieh on Walmart online that is. (That might be the rug I have. I don’t remember.)