My patio is a front-row seat to a popular nature trail that stretches through the backyard of my condo. People mostly whizz by on their bikes or walk their dogs. Occasionally, I’ll overhear some hot gossip I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to hear. I can’t help myself; I aspire to be the old lady who knows all the on-goings of her neighborhood. When I bought my condo last year, I had big plans for creating an inviting place to have drinks with friends or just sit and watch the squirrels chase each other around the trees.
Up until now, my patio has been a storage place for DIY projects and dying plants. I went back and forth with the idea of buying modern patio furniture. I changed my tune when I saw the price tags for a patio sectional and almost fainted from sticker shock. Ultimately, I decided to work with the items I already owned, thrift as much as I could, add a dash of DIY, and finish it off with a few store-bought things.
Before: What I Already Owned
This antique outdoor couch sat on my grandparent’s porch since before I was born. It’s not perfect. Some of the legs are bent, and it’s giving the Cadillac Ranch a run for its money with the amount of spray paint that has been layered on it over the years. Other than that, it’s perfect! It just needs a set of outdoor cushions to give it new life.
The LED string lights have been strung up in several places throughout the years. They add that perfect amount of soft light for the evenings. Making the patio feel like a European Airbnb. I also put them on a smart plug to turn them on and off with ease. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to bed only to realize I left the patio lights on.
I didn’t buy any new plants for this patio makeover. That’s not to say I wasn’t tempted. Rather, I ended up removing my dying Norfolk Island Pine from the patio. It had a good run. I did everything I could to help it grow, but it either didn’t have the will to live or didn’t like living with me. Probably the ladder. I rehomed the large pot to my sister, who now has a thriving aloe plant living happily in its new home. All the plants currently on my patio I pulled from other parts of my house. Some stayed inside, while others were moved to the patio. The plants will be the most fluid part of the patio. They start to throw temper tantrums when they feel they aren’t getting their fair share of the sunlight.
I’m happy to report this DIY Propagation Station I created earlier in the year is still going strong. It has propagated many thriving plants in the time I’ve had it. The one thing I’m considering changing is the leather cord. Over time it has started to dry out and become stiff. Switching this out for a small chain or a synthetic cord will probably be more hard-wearing.
The most significant part of this whole patio makeover is the addition of the shelf. But, I hit a literal wall in this project when it came to drilling through my concrete wall. I had a vision in my head of a large shelf that stretched the length of the wall. I found these brackets at Ikea and went to my local hardware store to have them cut me a piece of lumber to the length needed. Gathering the materials for this project was the easy part. The combination of not feeling confident and unsure of the equipment needed, led me to hire a Task Rabbit to help with the install.
Task Rabbit is a service offering professional help with everyday chores and errands around the house. They can help with various tasks around the house; install TV mounts, yard work, furniture assembly, and help with packing & unpacking. I simply described what needed to be done, Task Rabbit gave me a list of recommended Taskers, and I scheduled my appointment. Having a professional saved me from an afternoon of frustration and cussing at my wall. While this would have probably been a great show of those passing by on the trail, I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction.
For those who would like to try Task Rabbit to get things done, you can use my link (HERE) to receive $10 off your first task.
While I had a few days to think about what I wanted to display on my shelf, I looked to the thrift store to gather a few items. I wanted things that looked like I found them while traveling. An eclectic mix of lost antiques and souvenirs.
I’ve made a habit of stopping by a thrift store after I get my oil changed in my car. I think it’s the hours of sitting drinking free car dealership coffee that has me buzzing. All hopped up on caffeine, I was ready to dig through the isles of lost chachkies.
The thrift Gods were on my side that day. I found almost everything I needed at one store. The first thing I saw was a silver candlestick holder; tall Candlesticks are all the rage right now. It gets really fun if they’re bent into a curvy unusable shape that is sure to burn your house down if left lit and unattended. I opted for a simple navy blue candlestick. It will primarily sit as a decoration, but I’ll be prepared on the off chance I lose power in the middle of the night.
Two wooden horses with bright colors caught my eye, their details looked like they had been hand-painted by craftsmen. The very shape of the horses and their exciting festive colors reminded me of a piñata. I thought maybe they were a gift from one of those roadside stands I’ve seen in Central America selling brightly colored souvenirs to tourists. Surprisingly, I found them on Amazon. More surprisingly, I learned they are called Swedish Dala Horses. I was way off the mark, not even in the same continent.
This led me down a rabbit hole of Swedish history and the symbolism of these horses. They were originally hand-carved toys for children. In modern times, the painted horses have become the symbol for the province of Dalarna in Sweden. My takeaway from all of this; if you find something unique at the thrift store, do a quick google search on it and you might get a history lesson. Also, I want to go to Sweden to see the world’s largest Dalecarlian Horse in Avesta, Sweden.
I picked up this small silver-plated serving dish to add a bit of an antique look to the patio. After a little googling, I found its intended use is to store butter for the dinner table. I thought it would be perfect for keeping matchbooks and lighters. The imaginary scenario I have in my brain of stalking around my condo like Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t going to come to life if I’m shuffling through a drawer for a lighter for my candlestick.
On a completely different day, at a different thrift store, I found the frame I had envisioned in my mind to complete the look I was trying to create. When I saw it hanging in the store, I immediately snatched it off the wall. It just needed a little dusting off and a new, more modern picture. I considered putting this in the DIY section but changing an old print for a new one isn’t revolutionary. I would instead stress the idea that great frames can be found at the thrift store if you’re willing to dig for them.
Store-Bought Final Touches
Let’s circle back to my grandparent’s outdoor couch. I gave the couch a fresh coat of paint before I moved into my Condo, so now it just needed cushions. I wasn’t going to attempt a DIY set and instead bought three patio chair cushions. They fit perfectly. The red matches my couch in the living room, while the tropical palm leaves give the metal bench a modern outdoor feel.
I bought this hand fan as an impulse purchase. I imagined myself reading a book on the couch, lightly fanning myself to stave off the summer heat. In reality, it will more than likely serve as a décor piece. If it gets too hot, I’ll sit in the air conditioning.
I am never too far from a refreshing drink. Whether it’s a glass of ice water, my morning coffee, or a bold glass of wine, I will always need a place to sit my drink. I found this small table in the garden section at Ikea. It is marketed as a plant stand, but I thought it was the perfect size for a side table. The link to the one I bought can be found (HERE). I did spray-paint the legs to match the white metal on the couch and shelf. The wooden portions were stained the same color as the shelf; in Minwax’s Early American.
After: Everything Coming Together
It is easy to say this is my favorite room in my home now. It reflected my love of travel, oddities, and plants all in one tiny room. I’ve already spent a few late afternoons people watching or napping while it rains. As the fall season approaches, I look forward to spending more time on the patio in a bit less muggy conditions.
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