Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Small Space With a Modern Aesthetic

Posted by: on May 2nd, 2014 | 10 Comments
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Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Small Space With a Modern Aesthetic

Not all backyards are made the same. For city dwellers living in apartments or condos, the outdoor space can be pretty small. Decorating a tiny patio space can be a bit of a challenge. So we turned to Ashley Rose, author of the Sugar & Cloth blog,  for her urban backyard decorating ideas. 

It’s her contribution to our Patio Style Challenge series, in which we send talented design and DIY bloggers a patio set from The Home Depot, and let them work their decorative magic.

As you’ll see, Ashley made the most of every inch of her townhouse patio without making it cramped. We absolutely love the way she created a soothing modern look with with smooth grey stones contrasting plenty of leafy green plants. She also offers some very practical DIY solutions to some common challenges in small patio decorating.


Living in a townhouse in the middle of Houston, backyard space can leave a lot to be desired. I wanted to create a space that carried the modern, urban aesthetic to the outdoors so that it flowed seamlessly from the first floor. The Martha Stewart Living Franklin Park Dining Table was the perfect starting point. I loved the way the light blue, bistro-style bar chairs brought a feminine touch and let that inspire me from there.

Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Small Space With a Modern Aesthetic

I’ll spare the lovely Home Depot Blog my awful before photos of my backyard (which you can see them here if you’d like), but I already had the cement squares down and some stone. It was quite the eyesore if I’m honest, but not a terrible starting point.

Instead of replacing all of rock and platform, I decided to update the old stone with a mix of more modern dark river pebble to compliment the industrial siding and cool grey pavers.

To tie in the bistro feel of the chairs and bring a touch of romance to the space for evening dinners and appetizers with friends, I hung four sets of string lights over the table setting as well.

Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Bistro-style table styling


Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Bright, natural colors for the outdoor dining table


Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Shower curtain liner stands in for outdoor curtain

To disguise the unappealing sliding doors that lead to the patio, I actually created a much less expensive DIY version of outdoor curtains by hanging two fabric shower liners as curtains and a simple pole rod. They stand up against the elements well because they’re made for contact with water, and you can still spray them down if they get a bit dirty. All in all they only cost about $25 to create, and have held up really well.

Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: String lights, outdoor dining set and lots of greenery


Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Stair banister becomes a DIY succulent wall

I wanted to create an accent piece to fill up the awkward space near the water drain in the floor of my patio. Let’s be honest, water drains aren’t exactly the most fun to work around. When I was walking through the Home Depot aisles and stumbled upon the wooden stair banisters in the lumber section, I thought it would be a really simple and inexpensive way to recreate a pallet succulent wall, you can see the full DIY here!

This probably goes without saying, but I don’t have any intention of adding mowing my yard to my monthly to-do lists, so I made a sneaky DIY to create faux grass stepping stones to add a touch of green to the space that I couldn’t kill. It’s a sad truth, ha!

Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Dressed up air conditioning unit and garden hose

We also have a giant air conditioning unit and water hose hook up taking up a large amount of space in the corner of our tiny backyard. Seeing as those items play an important role with the Texas heat, I wanted to be sure to keep them clear from obstructions, but definitely wanted to dress them up a bit with a quick DIY.

To do so, I bought a ladder trellis and spray painted it light grey to coordinate with the color scheme. It helps blend that area into the space a bit better without cutting off any airflow to the air conditioning unit. I also housed the hose in a retractable storage unit to keep it organized and out of sight when not in use.

Urban Backyard Decorating Ideas: Ladder trellis dresses up air conditioning unit

Photos by Kimberly Chau Photography


Ashley Rose is a crafter and baker extraordinaire. She says her blog Sugar & Cloth is “a collection of DIY projects, vintage finds, designs, recipes, and all of the pretty things in between.” Check it out for lots of DIY projects, decorating ideas and delicious recipes.  

Ashley chose the Martha Stewart Living Franklin Park Rectangular Patio High Dining Table and Martha Stewart Living Franklin Park Blue Padded Folding Patio Dining Chairs for her small patio makeover. 

For more urban backyard decorating ideas and inspiration, see other Patio Style Challenges here on the Home Depot Blog, 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 a single Home Depot product as a starting point. Ashley received the patio set from The Home Depot and a gift card. The opinions and ideas Ashley expressed are her own.





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  1. [...] popular DIY blogger, Ashley of Sugar & Cloth, created a clean and modern look in her urban backyard. When guests walk through the fence gate, they’re greeted not only with lots of stylish [...]

  2. Jovita says:

    I love your lattice idea for AC unit. I also live in a townhome in Houston and have been desperately trying to find a cheap way to hide our AC unit in our patio. How did you go about attaching/ securing your lattice? Please advise! Thank you!!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Where did you get the lights?

  4. Such a gorgeous space. I love how modern and fresh it is. Love the hanging planter and all the greenery.

  5. Chris says:

    I love the picture with the food platter, in particular the rasberries and cheese combination. Soo classy. Great project! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Your space came out great! I love all the greenery.

  7. [...] can find the complete post on HOME DEPOT by visiting HERE and the DIY projects on SUGAR & CLOTH with the following links [...]

  8. jewel7013 says:

    This small space project is fabulous! Ashley inspired me using so many different and creative inexpensive items that now look elegant and the color scheme is perfect. I also think she did a great job showing ways to avoid having to mow for those of us who also cant or arent in a position to mow are lawns easily.

    I am so in love with this project and am heading to Home Depot to grab some of the products that I find to be irresistible and will allow me to attempt to replicate some of her fantastic talent.

    Big applause to Home Depot for teaming up with talented people like Ashley from Sugar and Cloth to display and assist those of us who need the visual and step by step guidance to make our outdoor space a wonderful place to spend time and enjoy entertaining friends.