Patio Decor Ideas: A Modern, Family-Friendly Deck

Posted by: on April 14th, 2014 | 29 Comments
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Patio Decor Ideas: A Modern, Family-Friendly Deck

It’s impossible to say which of the very creative and family-friendly patio decor ideas we love the most from Lesley Graham, but the porch swing might be it. And when we say porch swing, it might not be exactly what you’re thinking.

Lesley has tons of great ideas for decorating and raising a family on her eponymous blog Lesley W Graham. We asked her to take part in our Patio Style Challenge. That’s where we send new Home Depot patio sets to some of the best decor bloggers on the Internet and challenge them to amaze us with their patio decor ideas.

Lesley and her husband created what amounts to an outdoor family room that’s great for relaxing, entertaining, or just watching their girls grow up. And it looks smashing, too. It’s modern and attractive, yet it blends seamlessly with their vintage farmhouse.

And there’s a swing. 

She tells us all about how she did it… 

When we first started dreaming up this space I had several things in mind: kid-friendly, modern farmhouse style, and that we wanted the patio (or back deck in our case) to be an extension of our kitchen. We’ve been renovating a 1910 farmhouse outside of Atlanta for a little over a year. We didn’t really touch the outside until we got a handle on our interior. My vision for our home from the beginning has been “modern farmhouse.” I want a clean, modern aesthetic with touches of traditional farmhouse.

Patio Decor Ideas: Clean, modern aesthetic with touches of traditional farmhouse


Our back deck is not very big and it originally looked like this picture below. Sad.

I had chosen a really bad paint color for the exterior porches that got immediate wear-and-tear. One of the first things we did was pressure wash it and started from scratch with Behr’s DeckOver paint in Boot Hill Grey. The color is the color of dirt with a little grey. Perfect for our messy crew. Our backyard is basically dirt only right now, so this was crucial.

Patio Decor Ideas: The deck before its makeover


Patio Decor Ideas: A Modern, Family-Friendly Deck

We originally weren’t planning on building a structure of any kind but the more we planned, the more we liked the idea.

What started as a simple pergola, grew into the idea of creating an outdoor room that would double as a play area. As much as we love to dine al fresco we spend a ton of time playing during the day and I wanted to incorporate the kids as much as possible. The entire area of the space is about 10 x 10. The pergola support is made from three pressure-treated 4×4′s. The support upper perimeter is made of two 2 x 6′s. The rafters are 2 x 6′s stained with Minwax Special Walnut (same color we used on our floors). For the horizontal slats we used primed 1 x 4′s.

Sam also pulled off some bad lattice work and did some landscaping to make the space feel finished. We added blue grass, boxwoods and some gardenia. I love the idea of smelling gardenia while sitting out back. Such a lovely thought.

Patio Decor Ideas: Dining al fresco with the kids


Patio Decor Ideas: Modern, horizontal slats

We were originally going to reattach the porch railing, but decided instead to go more modern with the horizontal slats.

The only section that now has railing is one half of the pergola wall and then behind the table. I didn’t want anyone to scoot back at night and fall off!

We thought about staining the pergola, but ultimately I wanted contrast, and I thought the white next to the stained upper slats would be so interesting and pretty.

We used white, brass and wood in our kitchen as well, and I really wanted to tie them together. We sprayed the joist hangers gold, which also served to make the pergola sturdy.

We didn’t want the pergola to look like a foreign object, so we got The Home Depot to match the color of the house trim for the paint we used on the pergola.

Patio Decor Ideas: White, brass and wood


Patio Decor Ideas: White, brass and wood


Patio Decor Ideas: Al fresco dining

Patio Decor Ideas: A family garden party


Patio Decor Ideas: Dining al fresco

To christen our new outdoor space, we had a family garden party.

Lemonade was brought out on a bar cart that we flanked with snake plants and annuals (there’s a tutorial on my blog for the chalkboard planter you see in the photo). The beauty of my rosemary lemonade recipe is that adult versions can easily be served.

We snacked on guacamole and lots of lettuce wrap tacos. Heaven! As the sun began to set the globe lights that my husband Sam strung came to life.

Outdoor lighting just makes magic happen. We could sit out there for hours!

Patio Decor Ideas: The patio set before painting


We chose the awesome Hampton Bay Belleville 7-Piece Patio Dining Set to be the centerpiece for the Patio Style Challenge.

We played around with different color stories, but ultimately decided to do a really minimalist, monochromatic palette. I wasn’t sure how to make the dining set go in more of that direction until I thought about painting it.

I wasn’t sure if the mesh on the seats would take paint, though. I thought the paint might crack when you sat down on the chair. I ended up discovering Rust-Oleum’s Universal Spray Paint after a quick “painting mesh patio furniture” Google search. This stuff covers everything! It did take several coats of White Satin (and a ventilator!), but I love the result. The shape of the chairs ended up looking really cool and modern with the white paint.

Patio Decor Ideas: Spray painted patio chairs


Patio Decor Ideas: A minimalist, monochromatic palette


Patio Decor Ideas: Make the space super kid-friendly

We also brought the girl’s chairs outside to make the space super kid-friendly.

Patio Decor Ideas: A children's swing on the deck!


Patio Decor Ideas: A space to watch the kids

Probably my favorite feature that we added was the child’s swing. We were first going to leave the three beams open and then we were going to do horizontal slats all the way across. My fear was that if we left them open the beams would look dinky and if we went all the way across it would feel too closed in. Plus, I wanted to be able to watch the kids play in the garden.

Leaving one side open gave me the idea of adding a swing, it was just begging for one. Our amazing photographer Katie suggested a swing, too, and that sealed the deal. We used heavy duty swing hooks and a basic bucket seat that can be switched out for a regular seat when the girls get bigger. We simply remove one of the dining chairs and they are ready to swing!

Patio Decor Ideas: Dad and daughter next to the potting bench


Patio Decor Ideas: A big, long table for potting plants

For the potting bench, Sam refinished the existing table that was once in our office. It wasn’t weather-proofed and really took a beating this winter.

He rebuilt the top and then coated it in the same stain as the rafters and then a final two coats of satin spar varnish. The legs were made using pipe and flange. I love having this big, long table for potting plants and doing my work.

The bar stools are perfect for hanging out and talking to whoever is in the kitchen.

These casement windows were custom and open all the way up. They are amazing for parties and we use them until the mosquitos take over. ;)

Patio Decor Ideas: A big, long table for potting plants


Patio Decor Ideas: The bar stools are perfect for hanging out and talking to whoever is in the kitchen

We knew we wanted to create a small vertical garden, and Sam stumbled upon these really amazing vertical planter grids. They were originally oil-rubbed bronze, and I sprayed them gold with Rust-Oleum’s Metallic Gold. I filled them with sun-loving rosemary, lavender and dianthus.

Patio Decor Ideas: A small vertical garden


Patio Decor Ideas: A family-friendly space

Thanks so much for having us and please feel free to stop by and say hello on my blog or ask any questions here in the comments.

Photos by the talented Katie Oblinger (See more photos of Lesley’s family and this patio makeover from Katie on her blog.) 

Lesley Graham was born and raised in Georgia and now lives with her husband and two girls in a 1910 farmhouse near Atlanta. When she’s not writing about motherhood or home design on her blog Lesley W Graham, you can find her freelancing for stylists, children’s stores, and more. Read more about how she styled her deck, and see more photos, too, on her blog.

To decorate her deck, Lesley used the Hampton Bay Belleville 7-Piece Patio Dining Set from The Home Depot.

For more patio decorating ideas and inspiration, 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, yard or garden. 

To give your deck a makeover similar to Lesley’s, you may need help from a professional. Contact Home Depot’s home services for more information. 

Style Challenge is a series of posts from guest contributors who aim to bring you fresh inspiration and ideas for your home and garden using a single Home Depot product as a starting point. Lesley received the Hampton Bay patio set from The Home Depot and a gift card. The opinions and ideas Lesley expressed are her own.


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  1. [...] Lesley Graham added a sleek and slim pergola to her renovated modern farmhouse home. We love the two-tone look she created by pairing stained [...]

  2. [...] see the more photos from The Home Depot Style Challenge, click on over to the Home Depot blog, The Apron as well as Lesley’s blog and feast your eyes on one amazing patio [...]

  3. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this patio!! AH-MAZING! There are so many items I’m going to incorporate into our future project. So excited to see the painted furniture, the pergola, the herb garden and so much thanks for creating such a beautiful space- this is my style- LOVE it!

  4. Ivana says:

    This is absolutely stunning. I love how you incorporated a pergola and the swing, but my favorite things are the finishing touches – just beautiful (the planters are my favorite). May I ask, how you attached the pergola supports to the deck? Thank you for sharing this project.

  5. [...] *A modern, family-friendly deck. [...]

  6. Alan says:

    Leslie – This is a great! the final finishes make it look irresistibly inviting..Job well done on the pergola! Hope you get to really enjoy this summer in your patio :)

    Gives me another idea to post on my blog @

  7. [...] Patio Decor Ideas: A Modern, Family-Friendly Deck ( [...]

  8. Kelly says:

    wow, love it!

  9. Kara says:

    Wow, what an amazing transformation! Looks like such a fun place to hang out in, I don’t think I’d ever want to come inside!

  10. Amy says:

    I love it all!!! The pergola, the swing and those gorgeous gold planters. And for the record, I have never met anyone else who drinks Centenario! Two thumbs up.

  11. Jaime Lopez says:

    Wow… this looks awesome! I love the privacy from the slats and they seem like a great solution for afternoon sun too(depending on the direction of the home). I think my favorite corner of the patio would be vertical garden though, so pretty.

  12. Absolutely LOVE this space. The swing is awesome and the two toned pergola is beautiful. Just stunning.

  13. Carrie Turner says:

    Lesley, this looks amazing!!! I’ve been dying to see what y’all have been up to, and I think it turned out just beautifully! I love so many things, the “wall” with horizontal slats, the swing (I hope the girls don’t fight over it!!), the vertical planters sprayed gold and that great potting bench outside of the kitchen window. All so nicely done!!! I’m wondering how DeckOver worked out for y’all- it looks great in the pics- was it a pain to apply? We’ve been planning to use one of those type products on our covered porch, but it seems daunting!!! Would love to hear your experience. Well done girl!! xo

    • you are THE sweetest carrie! thank you for noticing and pointing out all the details. warm fuzzies! the deckover goes on just like paint. super easy. we did pressure wash first…

      good luck and thank you again!

  14. [...] I’m hanging out over on Home Depot’s Blog, the Apron Blog, with the most amazingly talented design blogger around, Lesley Graham.  A few weeks ago I was [...]

  15. LESLEY! This came out amazing! I’ve been looking forward to seeing your post forever, and it’s even more gorgeous than I imagined! Love, love, love everything.

  16. OHHH I love it all! The privacy fence and the table nestled under that window. To die for!