Creating Your Backyard Paradise
Updated: May 15, 2020
This outdoor space has been saving my life these past few weeks! To say we’re getting stir-crazy is quite the understatement (#quarantineBlues). All of us SoCal people know it’s a luxury to have a backyard living here, so for that I’m thankful. Having an outdoor place to relax and have fun has been great for our mental well-being. In the mornings the kids will hang out by the water table and eat some snacks, and I get to sit back and enjoy my coffee in peace. My husband has spent many afternoons on the patio working on his computer and doing conference calls. Early evenings we turn the patio lights on and the kids will run around to get some energy out before bed.
So, if you've been looking to put together your own little personal oasis, now would be a great time to do it! I've put together a list below to help you get started...
1. Pergola: There are a few different options here if you choose not to have a pergola, but I would highly suggest some sort of covering for shade. You could purchase a patio canopy, a gazebo, or some pool sails for above your furniture. This will help protect you from the sun, so you can relax, read, work, drink, or whatever your heart desires. Usually, the sun will end up hitting a portion of the shaded area at some point during the day, so you can have the best of both worlds if you choose. If your pergola doesn't come with a cover, I would recommend getting a square pool sail to go on top (be sure to measure correctly).
2. Outdoor curtains: If you're wanting to avoid the sun completely, curtains are an easy fix and they look gorgeous. I would opt for something that's weatherproof, and fade-resistant. Make sure to measure correctly and order enough panels so they can fall naturally and aren't pulled tight across like a sheet. I like to bring them 1/4 or halfway around the sides of the pergola so they can block more sun if desired. Getting the curtains up can be a bit tricky depending on the style of canopy/pergola you have, so this is where you may have to get creative. A curtain rod will work just fine if you're dealing with wood. If your pergola is metal, the best DIY option I've found is by using commercial grade, double-faced adhesive and wall hooks. You can choose any kind of wall hook as long as it's not too heavy or large, and preferably one that will complement your design elements. A plastic "Command" hook would also work, and can be spray painted to match. Be sure to clean the surface well before sticking the adhesive onto the metal, and remember to space the hooks evenly to create a natural wave and bunching to the fabric.
3. Outdoor Furniture: Patio sets vary widely in price, but whatever you choose, keep in mind a few of these important factors. 1) A cover- this will keep it clean and dry and prevent fading of the fabric. The cover is also important for keeping the hot sun from destroying the wicker/plastic elements of the furniture. Like most things, the cheaper the patio set, the more likely it is to fall apart when left to 'the elements.' If you don't have a big budget for the furniture, a cover will be your saving grace for longevity. If you don't plan to cover it, I suggest purchasing a lighter colored fabric that will fade better than say, black or dark gray. 2) Removable cushion covers are important because you're going to want to clean them at some point. Especially if you have small children, being able to put the cushions into the washer is the easiest way to keep it looking nice. 3) Look for a set with velcro attachments on the bottom cushions. The first set we purchased didn't have this and they were constantly slipping off every time we sat on them.
4. Rug: A rug is what really brings together the space and gives it that cozy "indoor/outdoor" kind of feel. The one I chose for our patio is by far my favorite and I'm so glad I didn't opt for something more neutral (like I usually tend to do). Outdoor spaces are a fun way to experiment with color if you've been a little scared of using it inside your home. The important things to look for in a rug are 1) make sure it's labeled as OUTDOOR. 2) It's the correct size and will fit nicely under your furniture and in the pergola. 3) It's decent quality and won't be destroyed after some normal wear and tear. This is where I find product reviews to be very helpful.
5. Decor: The decor elements aren't exactly essential, but they're what really bring together the whole design and give it some life. Examples include: outdoor stools, plants, flowers, and centerpieces. On my patio we opted for a couple outdoor stools from IKEA. I love these because they come in a few different color options for the covering. There’s a metal frame under each one that makes it sturdy and waterproof and then you just pull the fabric covering over top. I also added a faux succulent centerpiece, a Chinese Evergreen in a standing planter, an outdoor decorative pillow, and some patio lights on the pergola. Feel free to dress up your space as much or as little as you please!
6. Picnic Table: The adorable picnic table w/umbrella is something I've loved having for the kids and has come in very useful. This is an area they can occupy while still giving me MY space. I added an astroturf rug underneath which was only $20 at Home Depot. It's super easy to clean off using a broom or a hose, because we all know- kids are messy!
And that's it folks! If you're interested in the items I purchased for our patio, I've linked them on my "Shop" page. And as always, if you have any questions about designing a space, please send me a message and I'd be happy to help.