Today’s post is all about updating my outdoor living space, the back patio. With a updated landscaping, a lounge area, an added dining area, and cooking/prep areas, this space was completely transformed.
This post is sponsored by POLYWOOD® which I was over-the-moon to partner with since their stylish outdoor furniture has an impeccable reputation and a 20 year warranty.
If you have following my blog for awhile, you may remember the patio refresh I gave it a couple years ago. It was beautiful and served our family well that year, but I didn’t have furniture covers for everything and with brutal St Louis weather (wind, hail, 100 degree sun, snow, etc) the furniture didn’t last through that following winter. In fact, I didn’t post anything about my patio last summer because my furniture was in such bad shape being exposed to the elements (and we don’t have space to store them in our garage). So last fall, I put it all on the curb to be trashed. I had been hesitant to buy anything to replace it because I didn’t want to invest money in something that wasn’t really going to last.
Well, I’m happy to say that, that scenario is not something I’ll have to experience for a long, long time. POLYWOOD all-weather outdoor furniture is made from recycled plastic (but is quite heavy), and has a 20 year warranty.
This is an investment that is worth every penny!
You guys– I’ll be 53 before I even have to think about something new!
It is resistant to stains, won’t crack, peel, chip, fade or rot, and can be cleaned up with with soap and water. Basically it can handle anything mother nature can throw at it and then some!
This is what our patio looked like in February.
To properly plan for the addition of outdoor furniture I sketched out the dimensions of our patio on paper.
I had long-wanted to add a proper outdoor dining space, so it was important for me to measure out the space it would occupy and see what pieces would fit comfortably. Same thing with under my pergola– it isn’t the largest covered area so I couldn’t fit a sectional, but I wanted it to be conversational and cozy.
I selected a dining set that has foldable chairs (easy to store) and a classic design, the Vineyard 7-Piece Nautical Trestle Folding Dining Set in Slate Gray
For the living space under the pergola, I selected a set from the matching Vineyard Collection, the Vineyard 5-Piece Deep Seating Set in Slate Gray that came with 1 loveseat, 2 lounge chairs, 1 coffee table, and 1 end table.
They arrived before I started tackling the rest of the makeover, and I was glad of that, because I could really visualize how I wanted the finished patio to look, once they were in place. It was serendipitous that they Slate Gray was almost an exact match with our pergola!
The above pic was taken the first week of April right after we aerated our lawn.
My to-do list included:
Power-wash brick and gutters
Paint the brick (Behr Masonry & Brick Paint in the color Dove Gray– to see how I did it, check out this post)
New plants/bushes in the flower bed
Replace small tree in the flower bed
Weed beds and new mulch put down
Add planters with flowers
New pergola cover and outdoor curtains
Build a bench
Install poles to string lights (tutorial coming soon)
Install path lighting around patio
Stain hex wall planters
Finish off space with decor accessories like pillows, pergola pendant light, bar cart, wall art, trays, etc
The finished space feels like a bit of paradise for our family. I finished it a couple weeks ago and eating out here in the cooler evenings is comfortable and serene.
When this Vineyard 7-Piece Nautical Trestle Folding Dining Set arrived, the chairs came pre-assembled and the table only required attaching the legs to the top. Super easy and came with all the necessary tools.
I’m obsessed with these chairs. They have 3 reclining positions– from normal dining upright position to relax after the meal and lean back.
I had a friend over a few weeks ago when I was still working on the space and she was surprised how heavy the chairs were after I told her they were made from recycled plastic. They are as heavy as solid hardwood, and has a similar texture, but will last so much longer with practically zero maintenance. And they come in several colors, including some ‘stained’ wood looks.
One other convenient thing about this large dining table is it has a pop-out piece in the center of the table-top that you can remove if you want to add an umbrella!
One of the first things I knew I wanted once the furniture was in place, was proper lighting.
Since we have a single story house, getting the string lighting attached high enough so it wouldn’t hit anyone’s head was a challenge.
I created these light poles using cedar 2x2s (super tall ones) and it was perfect. I’ll have the tutorial up soon with the trick I used to make them sturdy in the ground and how I attached the string light at the top. Oh– and they are easily removable poles- so come fall I’ll be taking them down for the colder months.
I wanted them to string across and inside the pergola, so I used 3 sets of of 48 ft, 24-socket string lights.
I also added these pathway lights all along the edge of the patio pavement.
This little nook used to be the home of the trellis planter, but it was worse for wear once I pulled it out to paint the house. So now it is seriously the perfect spot for this white bar cart. I hung some wood carved art above it and sprayed it with weatherproof varnish. I could have even gone larger with this outdoor art, but this was the best I could find for pre-made art. I might make something later this summer similar to this wood art.
The bar cart is metal and I found at HomeGoods, and even though it isn’t the sturdiest thing, it was quite inexpensive and it folds in half for easy storage. I’m thinking of painting it black… what do you think? Do you like the white or would a darker contrast be better?
I love having a bar cart on wheels here because while I set it up to be a pretty drink station, it can be rolled over to the grill and used as a food prep-station.
I made this back patio door (which is off our living room) stand out more by flanking it with a couple of black urns with topiary wisteria in them. I’m hoping that wisteria will grow up and around the door– I think that would look so pretty!
That wooden modern bench on the one side of the door is something I built and you can find the tutorial here.
Phlox and petunias planted in the urns add a pretty pop of color.
We were super lucky to have bought the house with the pergola already installed. I had to buy a replacement pergola cover, but it was fun and easy to finish this space off. I got some new outdoor curtains (which are velcro tab top and easy to attach to the “curtain rods” (conduit pipes attached with brackets), strung lights and hung a woven pendant light (thanks to Instagram voting).
Can you believe how perfect the furniture color matches the pergola? I also love how that gray looks against the white brick of the house and the white curtains. The rug choice is thanks to many of you for voting (again) on my Instagram stories. I had it narrowed down to two, but this one won by a long-shot. I’m super happy that it is soft , made from recycled materials, and can be hosed off. It does take awhile to dry out though.
The deep cushions that come with the Vineyard 5-Piece Deep Seating Set are made with Sunbrella fabric, which is the best outdoor fabric you can buy. Seed pods, pollen, dirt, and bird poop has already been on these cushions and most of it just wipes right off and only once did I need a damp rag to lightly wipe something off. I’ve had other brand white outdoor cushions before and this material is far superior to resisting dirt and stains so far. They also are super thick and comfortable to sit in.
Both tables came pre-assembled, but the settee loveseat and the two chairs required some assembly which wasn’t difficult. Having built plenty of furniture in my life, I really appreciated the quality materials (marine-grade hardware), joinery methods, and craftsmanship of this furniture.
The seat depth is over 20 inches, so even for a large and tall person, these chairs and loveseat would be comfortable.
Once the main furniture pieces were in place, I tackled my garden bed that runs along the side of the patio. After lots of trial and error over the past 4 years of living here, I finally went and spoke with a couple of landscape designers. I love that besides giving you a plan for the most beautiful choices for your area, you are giving the right plants for your climate. I wasted, seriously hundreds of dollars over the years with my guess and check method, which most of the plants didn’t last.
This year, I feel confident I have planted choices that I’ll be happy with year after year. I took out my damaged little cherry tree, and replaced it with a red crabapple tree, planted spirea (perennial) around it, (interspersed with some primrose I planted last year), and then some colorful lantana (annual) around that.
I love the huge dappled willow next to the pergola (I keep it trimmed in under control every year), so I planted 3 more of those bushes to hopefully build up some privacy along the bed next to the dining set.
All the other plants I added were mostly in pots and were a lot of colorful petunias (my favorite draping flower).
In the mid-afternoon it is nice to sit under the shade in the hammock we got from Brazil last year…
…and rock while admiring this beautiful view.
So what do you think of the makeover? What is your favorite part?
To see the rest of this collection on my partner page with POLYWOOD go HERE.
Sources (some affiliate links used):
Outdoor Dining Furniture: Polywood Outdoor- Vineyard 7-Piece Nautical Trestle Folding Dining Set
Outdoor Living Room Furniture: Polywood Outdoor – Vineyard 5-Piece Deep Seating Set
Rug (5×7) | Wood carved wall art – HomeGoods | Gold beverage bucket | Brass lanterns (large & small) | Glass drink bottles (square, ribbed, round) | White & coral kitchen towels | Clear vase | Small marble cutting board | Large marble & wood cutting board | Pattern bowl holding lemons + limes
Blue pillow on dining chair | Striped throw blanket | Melamine bowls | Melamine navy plates | Pink glasses | Gold flatware | Seagrass placemats | Wood tray | Navy acrylic tumblers | Pink plastic pitcher | White mini colander | Runner – DIY from drop cloth | Pathway solar lights
Living Room Area
Large bush along pergola and small bushes with white leaf tips: Dappled Willow
Lower dark green bush with small purple flowers in between Dappled Willow: Catmint
Tree in garden bed: Profusion Crabapple Tree
Green bushes around tree in garden bed: Spirea
Green plant between Spirea: Primrose
Small red/pink/orange flowers along edge of garden bed: Lantana
Flowers in planter by dining set and at the base of light pole by pergola: Petunia
Topiary tree in black urns by patio door: Wysteria
Flowers in black urns at the base of the Wysteria: Petunia and Phlox