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!
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?
…and here is the after picture:
Before (so painful…):
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.
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:
and the after:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Is there anything better than dining alfresco in the summer with cute friends in a lovely space?
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.
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.
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.