In our Style Challenge series, we ask some of our favorite bloggers from around the web to surprise us with their ideas for creating a stylish and functional space using Home Depot products as a starting point.
When we saw the incredible progress that Dana of the blog House*Tweaking and her family have made on their 1950s fixer upper (which they affectionately call The Underdog), we knew she would be the perfect addition to our 2014 Patio Style Challenge. She put together a gorgeous outdoor dining area that’s perfect for her young family and for spending quiet time with the hubby after the kids are asleep. Check out her clever way to hang bistro lights and the DIY art piece made from scrap wood, too.
Last year my husband and I spent most of our free time renovating the inside of our fixer upper just so it would be livable. With most (but not all!) of the major interior projects completed, we were really excited to finally show the exterior some TLC.
This past fall, we had two plain-Jane concrete patios installed at the back of the house. One patio sits just off our dining room, and our hope was to turn it into a family-friendly outdoor dining space. Our style is simple, modern and cozy, and we wanted the patio to reflect that. The Home Depot was kind enough to hook us up with a few pieces from the Hampton Bay Walnut Creek Collection. I chose a table and bench with straight lines to go along with our “no fuss” style. More importantly, the table and bench are completely maintenance free. We’re a busy family and don’t have time to fret over needy outdoor furniture!
To keep the furnishings from looking too matchy, I mixed the table and bench in with pieces we already had on hand and also in with a few new things. We are so happy with the results!
Now the patio is a great family hangout. We like to eat dinner al fresco whenever possible. When my two older boys are in school, I take my baby’s high chair out to the patio. She has a snack. I drink my coffee and catch up on email. It’s almost turned into my outdoor office.
One of the first things I did for the makeover was paint the french doors a moody inky gray (Behr’s Evening Hush exterior paint in satin) to contrast with the red brick.
My favorite part of the patio is this little sitting area with the bench. The garden stool was one of those items we already owned (here’s one that’s similar), but it was bright green and needed a face lift. I used Rust-Oleum’s flat white spray primer and gold spray paint to give it a more sophisticated look. (And it matches my baby’s sandals! Go figure.)
Drawing inspiration from Ariele Alasko‘s uh-MAZing work, I had an idea for a modern art piece to break up all the red brick.
I drew up a sketch of the design I had in mind and my husband brought it to life using wood salvaged from our interior renovations. So, not only does the outdoor art look great, it holds special meaning for us as well.
It’s mounted on treated plywood and sealed to protect it from the elements. Luckily, this area is north-facing under a deep eave and doesn’t receive direct sunlight or rainfall. We attached the DIY art to the brick wall with concrete anchors.
I topped the outdoor dining table with a simple centerpiece of succulents and white containers for a cohesive look that flows with the adjacent dining room’s decor.
When the weather allows, I love opening up the French doors. The two spaces together feel like one big dining room!
We still have some landscaping to tackle, so to liven up the boring concrete, I planted various pots full of greenery.
When I was coming up with a plan for the patio, I knew I wanted to be able to string globe lights from the house for a festive night look. Sadly, there aren’t any outbuildings or trees in our backyard to attach strands of lights to, and I didn’t want to sink poles into the ground permanently. Together, my husband and I came up with these DIY portable light poles. They are fencing top rails cut to size, anchored in a concrete base and topped with a looped end cap. We secured the string lights to the looped end with zip ties.
To be honest, we weren’t sure how the portable light poles would work, but they work amazingly well! They are sturdy enough not to topple or lean when lights are strung from them (or even during thunderstorms) yet they are light enough to move around. My fast-thinking husband even sank eye bolts into the concrete bases to tether them if needed but we haven’t had to resort to that.
After the kids are in bed for the night, we’ve been known to sneak out to the patio for mini date nights. The globe lights set a romantic mood and provide just the right amount of ambiance. We don’t even feel like we’re home!
Sometimes we have a late dessert or a sip of wine. Tea lights are always lit.
Once the kids are out of school for the summer, we’d love to host an evening family party with our friends and their kids. Strings of globe lights = instant party. Cheers!
You can see Dana’s patio one year later, including that lovely wood wall art on her blog.
Dana is the author, decorator and photographer behind the blog House*Tweaking. Nearly two years ago, she and her husband did the unthinkable. They ditched their McMansion in exchange for a small, dilapidated 1950s ranch complete with termite trails in the original shag carpeting. They call it The Underdog. She says it’s not their dream house. Instead, it’s the house in which to pursue their dreams.
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. Dana received furniture pieces and a gift card, but The Home Depot provided no other compensation. The opinions and ideas Dana expressed are her own.