Creating Privacy and Sparkle with a Backyard Makeover

Posted by: on April 29th, 2014 | 35 Comments
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Backyard Makeover


Kristen Whitby’s backyard was a little awkward, shall we say, before she signed up for our Patio Style Challenge. As you’ll see, the issues she faced were pretty common–lack of privacy, a less-than-ideal layout for the yard… that sort of thing.

She’s a very creative decorator, DIYer and doer of awesome things, which she writes about on her blog Ella Claire, so we were quite interested in seeing how she solved some of the practical and decorative issues with her backyard makeover.

You will be amazed. Just look at the before and after photos of Kristen’s backyard and patio. It has plenty of privacy, comfort and the vintage charm she is known for. It’s a great spot for a party, in fact…   


I can hardly believe the progress we made in our space, chock full of DIY projects, and I am so excited to share it with you! In fact, we will just have a little Summer Soiree to celebrate!

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover

We decided that this summer was going to be the time to reclaim our outdoor space as well as create some much needed privacy for our home. This was no easy task! Our home is in a neighborhood on a corner lot, which presents a few challenges. First, our backyard is very narrow and our side yards are wide. This means that our backyard is very close to the side of our neighbor’s home where they have a huge camper trailer parked. They also installed windows on the side of their house last year. The majority of the rooms and main living area of our home face out this direction, so creating privacy was a must.

We set out to construct a free standing privacy lattice to grow vines along. I could see what I wanted to build in my head, and with the help of J at my Home Depot store we were able to come up with a plan. I also convinced my dad, husband and brother to help with this big fun project. Well, it was probably more “fun” for me than it was for them!

It almost pains me to show you these before pictures….are you ready for this?

Backyard Makeover

…and here is the after picture:

Backyard Makeover

Before (so painful…):

Backyard Makeover

…and after:

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover

Ahhhh… I sigh every time I look at it now. Talk about a difference! I absolutely love the way it looks and the privacy that we now have. And, I am SO HAPPY to have a nicer view! This is a really great option for anyone who lives in a neighborhood who would like to cover their neighbors’ storage or create more privacy.

Since there is such a small distance between our home and the fence, I wanted to create a courtyard feel. Because of all of the dark furniture, fence, and lattice, I decided to install some outdoor planking to give the feel of wood work in an outdoor room. I LOVE the way it lightened up the space! It looks so pretty from inside our home as well.

I used cedar fence pickets, cutting off the dog ears and trimming to size. I sanded them down until they were smooth, then screwed them into the fence, trimming them out with little 2x2s. I then filled the holes with wood filler and whitewashed the boards with watered down paint that I had on hand. I will have the full tutorial on my blog soon.

Backyard Makeover

We also re-stained the fence and extended out the planter which gave the illusion of a bigger patio space. I can’t wait for the vines to grow!

Here is the before:

Backyard Makeover

and the after:

Backyard Makeover


We mixed the brown and black mulch together in all of our planter beds as well. I love how it tailors and warms up the yard. I explain how I customized the color of the mulch on my blog.

On the patio, we used this adorable little table and chairs for extra seating and a serving area. It’s the Martha Stewart Living Franklin Park High Dining Table and Franklin Park Wicker Folding Chairs.

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover

I refinished this Craigslist patio set you see below. Lets just say that this sad set matched our sad yard before its makeover. Yes, it was really that bad. I managed to rescue the set with a little tender loving care. You can see my full furniture refinishing tutorial for that thirfted patio set here on the Home Depot Blog.

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover


I couldn’t find cushions that were the right size for my chairs, so I opted to make them myself. I used the big sheets of utility foam from The Home depot which I cut down to size using a kitchen knife. I sewed covers for them using canvas that I had on hand. Another great option would be to use canvas drop cloths. I will have the full tutorial on my blog soon, including how to make fabric (and these cushions) weather resistant.

Backyard Makeover

I recovered a few outdoor pillows with the same canvas to match the cushions. I think it makes the space so warm and comfortable. The red Home Depot pillows were the perfect accent and the pop of color!

Backyard Makeover

On the table, I used a few of my favorite things, including vintage plates, linen napkins, yummy smelling candles, and this cute platter I made from a simple piece of precut wood from the lumber section coupled with a food cover I had on hand. I liked the natural wood, so I just left it as it was. I’m not promising anything though… I tend to change things up frequently, so this guy may get painted.

Backyard Makeover

I built this chalkboard sandwich board from these great boards I found at Home Depot! They come with a chalkboard surface and already cut to this size. All I had to do was add the hinge. Take a look at the very simple DIY chalkboard tutorial on my blog.  You can see more of my chalkboard art and tutorials there, too.

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover

Is there anything better than dining alfresco in the summer with cute friends in a lovely space?

Backyard Makeover

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover

Backyard Makeover

Of course, I had to add hanging baskets and fresh flowers. I repurposed my antique iron birdcage and used a couple of vintage plant stands. I love the mix of the old and the new.

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover

Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover


Backyard Makeover

I am so excited to spend the whole summer out here in our yard enjoying family, friends, and good food. I have a feeling that this is our new favorite room in our home.

See more photos of Kristen’s backyard makeover on her blog. And take a look at Kristen’s backyard a few months after this makeover after Kristen added tons of flowers to her patio decor. 

Kristen Whitby loves to repurpose, DIY, and create. You’ll find tons of clever craft and decorating ideas on her blog Ella Claire. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two children.

For her backyard makeover, Kristen chose the Martha Stewart Living Franklin Park Rectangular Patio High Dining Table and Martha Stewart Living Franklin Park Wicker Folding Patio Dining Chairs.

For more patio and backyard makeover ideas, see other Patio Style Challenges as well as our Patio Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. And browse our online Outdoor Living Department for everything you need for your patio, backyard or garden. 

Style Challenge is a series of articles from guest contributors who aim to bring you fresh inspiration and ideas for your home and garden using Home Depot products. Kristen received the patio set and a Home Depot gift card for her backyard makeover. The opinions and ideas Kristen expressed are her own.

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Leave a Comment

  1. K Obiadi says:

    Big props to you Kristen for making the most of a difficult situation. The RV had to be dealt with and you did it beautifully. Kudos!

  2. Now that’s what I call a privacy fence! Its amazing. I love it. When the vines grow in, its going to be even more amazing. I love this entire space so much:)

  3. What a gorgeous transformation! I love all details.

  4. Chris says:

    Excellent work Kristin! It’s a before and gorgeous after!!

  5. This is amazing! I never would have thought to add planking to the fence – what a great idea!

  6. This is an absolutely fantastic transformation! I love the added privacy and warmth the backyard has now. We have a backyard that sits slightly up over our neighbors, and I feel like we’re constantly on stage in our yard, which makes me uncomfortable. I never thought to add lattice because I was afraid it wouldn’t match our fence- but I LOVE how you have the two tones. It looks very rich and really lightens up the yard.

    I’m dying over all the accessories you picked- it is SO cute- but man, you have me ready to run in for new ideas for our fence!!!!

  7. Shannon Edwards says:

    I realized something that I absolutely love about this post…It is so classic. I love your work for that reason. There are so many today who get really into the fads, and those are so cute too, but I love a little of the “classic,” that lasts forever. Just love it, you did such a great job. Home Depot was lucky to have you representing them!

  8. Kristin I love your backyard makeover! I love the bulb lighting and the intimate feel you’ve created there.

  9. This is down-right stunning! I love the transformation and how you’ve added hard and soft elements to your backyard to really make it feel like an extension of your home!

  10. Lolly Jane says:

    Love the after! Looks like a space I’d love to BBQ and hang with the fam in, for sure! PS: Recipe for that cake, please! Mmm!

  11. AMAZING!! Kristen has such a knack for paying attention to every little detail. This backyard went from ordinary to a knockout – but with things anyone can do! Love it all. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Amber Price says:

    Love this! Has me brain storming what I can do to my backyard for summer entertaining!

  13. Debbie S says:

    Awesome job Kristen!

  14. Gorgeous transformation, Kristen! Love the lattice and the way you transformed your fence so vines could grow, creating greater privacy. The chalkboard sandwich sign is adorable, too! Nice job.

  15. Megan says:

    Wow! This makes me want to do it to my backyard I’ve never seen lattice look so good!

  16. Katie says:

    Wow what an amazing transformation! Kristen’s outdoor space looks like it’s straight from a magazine! Gorgeous job!

  17. Devan Jacobsen says:

    Kristen!!! You did such a lovely job! I am seriously in Love with this! Come to my home and do a makeover for me!

  18. Wow what an amazing transformation!! I was shocked at how much the fencing and lattice transformed the space.

  19. Looks so amazing! What a fantastic job!!!

  20. Shannon Edwards says:

    Kristen, that looks amazing! Your backyard looks great.

  21. Shannon Fox says:

    What a smart, fun way to spruce up your space. I love that it looks doable and budget friendly too. Covering the RV storage did wonders to up the beauty of the backyard. I see a lot of fun times ahead. (and that cake was gorgeous too!)

  22. Jenn says:

    Oh my goodness! What an amazing space!! I love how pretty and relaxing it looks – the vintage touches are beautiful!

  23. This post is full of so many beautiful ideas that anyone can do. Adding height to a fence for more privacy is genius! Love the colors of the new fencing as well. And the party with all the furnishings is beautiful.

  24. This looks like such a great place to hang out! You did an amazing job, and I am more than a little envious of your revamped table set!

  25. [...] She refinished a thrifted patio set as the centerpiece of the patio makeover she did for our Patio Style Challenge series. Here is her furniture refinishing tutorial, showing how she restored the old wooden patio set. For the full Challenge reveal, visit Kristen’s Backyard Makeover. [...]

  26. AMAZING! Wow, what a huge difference. There are so many things to love about this space! It all feels so warm & cozy. Tremendous job Kristen!!!!

  27. Sarah McKenna says:

    It looks AMAZING!!! WOW that must have been a lot of work!!

  28. Danielle says:

    What a fantastic makeover for your yard! I love how you’ve added privacy, gorgeous plants and upcycled an old set! I also love the chalkboard! I think you’re gonna have a wonderful summer and many gatherings in your new yard! x

  29. Kelly says:

    WOW! It looks awesome! Can’t believe the difference, that privacy screen was a genius idea. I’m sure it is going to be even more beautiful once the vines climb the trellis. So inspiring!

  30. Vanessa says:

    I absolutely LOVE what you did to create privacy Kristen!! We totally relate to that dilemma of having neighbors close by and you did such an awesome job getting the privacy without sacrificing style. Well done!

  31. Kristin says:

    WOW what an amazing makeover! I love how she added height on the fence for privacy. All the flowers are so beautiful and I love that bistro table!

  32. destiny says:

    Beautiful job! I love the atmosphere that you created! Summer is one of my favorite seasons and I so I cant wait to throw so backyard parties myself!

  33. This is such a lovely makeover ~ I would look forward to entertaining and being entertained in such a welcoming setting. Beautiful! Pinning for the future.

  34. Lucy says:

    What a great transformation. I can already picture you making some great memories with your family here. Great job!

  35. I love the vines on the fence and the planter used as a drink chiller– too cute!