Before we started this project, we never thought the words budget friendly and backyard oasis could ever be used together. We wanted a backyard space that felt relaxed and comfortable. An outdoor extension of the indoor living spaces that created a place to laugh, unwind, eat, host parties and grill out. Would all of that be possible with just a 400 square foot space? We’re happy to report these expectations became a reality. Here are a few tips we learned throughout the process!
Tip #1 – Determine Your Needs
Decide how you want to use the space from the beginning. We like to eat outside every time the weather is nice so we knew creating a zone for eating would be a top priority. We also wanted to create a comfortable yet relaxed place to sit and hang out after mealtime. This meant we also needed to create a seating zone. Deciding these two components in advance helped to make clear decisions along the way.
Tip #2 – Determine Your Priorities
Initially, we wanted a pergola for the back yard. We thought it would be a great solution for adding much needed shade to the patio. But we wanted the concrete stained and a frame for the swing even more than we wanted a pergola. It took almost 6 and a half gallons of stain to finish the textured concrete patio. We also had to purchase additional materials to build the swing frame even though we already had the swing. None of these costs were inexpensive but because we had already determined our priorities it helped us to stay focused on what we really wanted.
Tip #3 – Determine Your Plan of Action
We created a master list of priorities and the action steps it would take to complete each task. The list covered everything from staining the concrete to shopping for materials to creating a menu board from an old door. Taking the time to devise an action plan helped me to stay on track even when unforeseen things happened like multiple days of rain.
Tip #4 – Determine Your Timeline
I’m almost embarrassed to say that I thought this would take one long weekend. We were determined, focused and prepared; it still took a good bit of time to complete. It wasn’t until we really studied our plan of action that we understood what we had accomplished. We had painted a lot of pieces of furniture like the farmhouse style table, the workbench, the bench seating, the swing and the swing frame. We also built a frame for the swing that is 8 foot in height. We stained the concrete, created a menu board and added texture with rugs and pillows. We moved pieces of furniture multiple times until we got it right. It was a lot of work but worth every minute.
Tip #5 – Determine Where to Spend and Where to Splurge
This was key in helping to keep costs down. We shopped the house and garage in order to reuse pieces of furniture we already had on hand. We brought the wicker patio set that was previously used on the front porch to the back patio. We bought the old door that I made into a menu board for $10 and used chalkboard paint we had in the garage. The chairs were previously around the kitchen table and stashed around the dining room to provide extra seating. We reused pillow forms and made covers from a yard of ticking fabric we found at a local thrift store and burlap sacks that held peanuts. Updating the pieces we already had at home made it easier to spend money on the extras like flowers, the swing frame, the rug, the workbench, the concrete stain and all of the related materials that make projects like these happen.
Our greatest piece of advice is to stop waiting! We’ve used this space every day since being completed. We’re spending more time outside enjoying our little piece of paradise now that we have a relaxed and comfortable place to laugh, unwind, eat, host parties and grill out. Even better, it was all budget friendly. The lessons we’ve learned along the way are going to give us the confidence we need to tackle other projects; we know it will do the same for you.