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