I am SO excited to show you this space today. Our humble little patio has been a project 5+ years in the making. LOTS of trial and error. In fact, I think every year we’ve re-thought and reconfigured this space in some way. Well, no more. I’m sure there will be tweaks here and there, but for the most part, this space can be finally placed in the FINISHED column of the to-do list. And none too soon. The warm weather looks like it’s finally here to stay! (And while we’re on that subject, how is it June already?!!!) I give you: our Small Patio on a Budget! (And I’m serious about the budget part, you’ll get the rundown as you read through.)
Like most everyone else this time of year, I spend lots of time drooling over big beautiful screened in porches and sprawling patios full of fabulous furniture that I would probably have to take out a second mortgage to afford. But reality is that we have a very small backyard, and we are VERY close to our neighbors (as you can see), so there’s quite a lack of privacy and no space in the backyard, or the budget, for big expensive pieces, and that’s okay. With a little DIY and creativity, we created something that is comfortable, functional, and in my humble opinion, beautiful. It really is like our own little retreat. In fact, when I talk about collecting spaces, this is truly one of those. A lot of what is here was hand-me-downs (umbrella stand from my dad, chairs from my aunt, fireplace from my grandma) or collected over the years on clearance (wood storage bench & both table benches from Ikea, $30 clearance umbrella from Target), and of course, my favorite: the spool table which was free courtesy of my brother in law.
Let me give you a little reminder of where we were at last year. This was pre-Spring cleanup, so the mess was pretty out of control, but you can see that there wasn’t a lot of function and it wasn’t really an inviting place.
And here we are now. Ahhhhh, so much better. The BIGGEST difference in both astethics and privacy was planting trees. We planted these trees (Quaking Aspens) three years ago and in that short time (okay, it kind of feels like an eternity to impatient little me), they are like 15 or 20 feet tall and provided sort of a “frame” for the patio. My husband originally wanted to plant them all along our back fence and now I’m wishing I had listened to him! We would have complete privacy if we had. Our yard also sits up a lot higher than our next door neighbors on one side, and while we LOVE our neighbors, we wanted a little bit of privacy while we’re one the porch eating or just chilling. Okay, truth: we did want privacy, but I’ve also been DYING for a place to hang patio lights, so we built a little privacy trellis (full tutorial on that one is coming). The lights get a big eye roll from the husband who claims that “this is not a cafe.” Wait until I deck it out until the 4th of July–I see a big flag in the near future. Added bonus with the trellis too, it gives me more room for plants and flowers since flowerbed space is limited (you can see I modified my hanging gutter planter a little bit). Also, there’s the dog as usual. She really will have no part of getting out of my photos and makes a cameo a couple of times in these photos
The most surprising thing about building this trellis though is how much it changed the space and really finished it off. I was a little bit worried about putting it up, because I didn’t want to build a wall that made a small patio feel even smaller, but it actually had the opposite effect. It completely changed the whole “flow” of the patio and really made it its own space.
Since the day we started trying to figure this patio thing out five years ago, there have been three things that I’ve REALLY wanted out of it: 1. Comfortable places to sit. Not just dining chairs, but somewhere to lean back and chill. 2. Somewhere to eat that is big enough to accommodate guests, but doesn’t take over the entire space. 3. A place for the grill where it’s not totally overpowering the flow of the space. Oh, and it of course all needed to be done on a tight budget.
My biggest hang-up had been finding a balance between the comfortable furntiure and somehwere to eat. I am a leg crosser. When I relax, I’m usually sitting criss-cross or crossing my legs and I just don’t find dining chairs all that comfortable, and they’re expensive, like $50+ each. AND there wasn’t really room for comfortable furniture AND dining furniture. Last year I bought a new bench and a storage bench that I thought could double as a dining table, but we ended up never really eating outside because eating off of a coffee table is just a pain in the butt. SO, the final, glorious solution this year: a dining table, with benches for seating. I kept the bench I bought last year (at Ikea), but between the trellis and the wood table, I felt like the bench needed to go white to break up and brighten all the wood a little bit, so I just spray painted it and added some big pillows so it’s nice and comfy. On the front, I used a backless wicker bench (also from Ikea last year that I got on clearance for $30!), that scoots all the way under the table, so it doesn’t take up too much room and doesn’t hide the table and the bench behind it. The table is an electrical spool that my brother-in-law got for me for free! So my entire seating area cost me about $15 for spray paint. But the cost of the two benches and pillows was less than $150 if you add up what they originally cost me. Oh, and the benches are a great option if you’re using an electrical spool as a table because they’re wide at the bottom and will still slide in under the table, instead of hitting the wood base like chairs would. The other little white chairs against the trellis (that you see in the pictures above) can be pulled over for extra seating when we need it.
So, comfort & eating situation solved, onto the grill area. Last week I showed you our original solution for the grill, but it wasn’t really the best place for it. Basically, because of the way our yard sits, it was kind of a pain to walk around to the grill every time we wanted to use it. We also do quite a bit of grilling the winter and traipsing through the snow over to the grill is just annoying. Sooooo, we decided to give it its own little spot. BUT, because our yard is so small, we always hesitate to pull out any more grass, but every time we finally bite the bullet and do it, we’re happy that we did, and it was no different in this case.
We cut out a small corner of grass next to the porch (useless grass space anyway), and rather than mess with putting down more pavers, we just created a little pea gravel patio–I LOVE pea gravel patios–and turned it into our little grilling corner. I moved our bench (which still needs a fresh coat of stain) that served as our “coffee table” last year, over against the railing and it created another space for seating. AND since it’s on wheels, it can be rolled out by the fireplace or the table for extra seating. Eventually I’ll buy some bigger, prettier cushions too, but for now, I just used the ones we had last year on the other bench. You know, because: budget. I also think that blank wall is screaming for a little shelf of some sort for grilling supplies and bar supplies, but all in good time, all in good time.
I’m really so happy with how this space came together on a really tight budget. We’ve definitely spent some money over the years on some of the patio furniture, rebuilding the steps last year, and laying pavers down to extend the original size of the patio, but I believe those projects combined still cost us less than $500.00. This year, we had the cost of the privacy trellis (about $250.00) and the cost of the pea gravel patio (about $150) and spray paint to give things like the bench, chairs, and umbrella stand an update (did you see the ugly green umbrella stand in the before pic? Oh what a difference a little paint makes!) Oh, and the mirror hanging on the trellis was a new purchase, which my husband thinks is just as ridiculous as the lights (LOLz). He’s truly baffled as to why one would need a mirror in the backyard. Seriously though, with a few changes, and some collecting of things over the years and some hard work, this has turned into our favorite place to be! I’ll be sharing lots of projects from this space over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!!
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