One of the biggest DIY influences in my life was the TV show Trading Spaces. I would watch it religiously and then try to recreate pieces in my own room. I even made flyers and put them in my neighbors’ mailboxes for them to hire me to re-do their space on a budget. (No one ever called me :( Probably because I was 12 — but had great ideas!) Ever since then, I’ve dreamed of creating my perfect house. There once were folders of my floor plans with paint chips and tiles, but then Pinterest came along, so now it all lives there :)
Flash forward to present day — I’m 25 and nowhere near ready to own my own house. (Especially in San Francisco — yeah right!) I currently rent a bedroom in a house with four other girls, and we all have our own different styles, so it’s hard to decorate and please everyone. What we all did agree on was that our small backyard patio sucked and it needed some major love. Below I’ll walk through the steps I took in creating an outdoor jungalow for a rented space and on a budget. Oh and PS: Everyone is invited over when we start having dinner parties.
When I first moved in I was so excited to decorate every space in the apartment. However, the backyard only got a small amount of love. I picked up this table and chairs from a flea market for $50. I told myself I would sit out here for breakfast in the mornings — but honestly, this space isn’t inviting and I never went outside.
This was the other corner of our backyard. My roommates found this barrel and thought it would be perfect for an outdoor bar — which never happened, but that was our plan.
Follow along below to see the steps I took to create this outdoor space :)
This plant bench had been a dream of mine for a while. A place to sit and relax while being surrounded by your favorite green friends — sign me up! Take a look at this tutorial for all the pieces you’ll need to craft one for your own backyard.
As you know, summer nights can get pretty chilly. Make sure you have blankets and comfy pillows to really enjoy your time outside.
This piece of driftwood was hauled off of Ocean Beach in SF by yours truly. I was looking for a piece that was as long as my bench and laid pretty flat. Screw hooks into the wood and hang your favorite macrame planters. We bought these Accmor Plant Hangers ($12) from Amazon, but even better if you make your own unique hangers with our new Brit +Co Make a Macrame Planter Kit ($20)!
I normally would bad-mouth chain-linked fences, but it actually came in quite handy for my backyard makeover. I simply used zip ties to attach everything onto my “walls.” For the driftwood chandelier, I shimmed the wood into the triangle center of an IKEA wall bracket. If your driftwood isn’t so skinny, you can screw in a piece called a screw eye to create an area to hang the driftwood.
When you have small outdoor space with cement floors, gardens can be pretty tough. I solved this problem by creating a planter box garden. I headed over to Urban Ore, which is a thrift store in Oakland, to find old wooden boxes and a small bookcase. Fill with soil and start planting! Remember to keep it in an area of your backyard that gets the most sun — this was the trickiest part for me, but we will see how they do!
For my herb garden, I went to new vertical heights. This one was so easy to do — all you need is an over-the-door shoe hanger. Fill with soil and then plant your favorite herbs and spices.
Use old tiles and paint pens to create plant markers. Hot glue a wood skewer to the back and you will never add cilantro into a dish when you meant to add parsley.
Outdoor gallery wall
Outdoor gallery wall = genius! For this installation you’ll want to hang weather-resistant pieces of art. I hit up Urban Ore, a local thrift store, to find an awesome old window and mirror to hang on the wall. I used paint pens to letter “good vibes” onto the window and then sprayed it with a waterproof sealant.
Mirrors do great things in small spaces. They 1. make areas look bigger and 2. reflect light so your backyard will “always” be sunny. Again, I attached these pieces to the fence with zip-ties. Don’t worry — zip-ties are stronger than you think!
Our seating area needed a major re-do and I am extremely thrilled with how it turned out. I gave our preexisting table and chairs a nice makeover with spray paint and laid down an outdoor rug of fake grass.
Fill all areas with more and more plants. I hit up IKEA for their plant section — they offer a lot of succulents for cheap! (We will see how long they last.)
Last but not least — lawn flamingos! They’re a great source of color and whimsy for an outdoor space. You don’t even need a lawn; just pop them into a planter.
There you have it! A backyard makeover for a small patio. Take these tips and tricks and apply them to your own space for a summer makeover of your own!
Show us your latest project by tagging us on Instagram + using hashtag #iamcreative!
DIY Production and Styling: Kelly Bryden
Photography: Brittany Griffin
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.