A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit

Article Posted By: Camille Simmons

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit

Excellent decor–indoor or outdoor–reflects a personality. Blogger Camille Simmons expertly captured her brother’s passion for community and the environment in the backyard makeover she completed at his California home.

Her blog, Planning Pretty, focuses on cooking and entertaining, as well as decor, so you can bet the patio she created is also great for family gatherings and outdoor dining.

This was her contribution to our Patio Style Challenge. We send our favorite bloggers patio furniture sets from The Home Depot to spark their ideas for creating beautiful and functional outdoor spaces.

As you’ll see, the new patio she created is peaceful, natural and energizing, with plenty of charming details to make it one-of-a-kind.

Entertaining is a huge part my lifestyle, but my family’s too! We love to celebrate holidays and birthdays with backyard barbecues. My husband and I live in the city where outdoor space is limited, so all parties are thrown at my brother’s house.

Although the gatherings are always casual,  having an informal patio arrangement makes entertaining tough. My brother only had random chairs, patio sofas and benches in a jumble under the pergola-like canopy in his yard. But I knew with the canopy frame in place, I could create a great outdoor room with lots of shade from the hot California sun. My brother also holds team meetings in the yard for the non-profit organization, Ubuntu Green, so doubling as an outdoor work space would be a bonus.

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: Before the makeover

Creating a Peaceful and Inviting Outdoor Space

The first step was cleaning out the patio space. There was a lot of random furniture clustered together, plus annoying weeds growing in-between river rock and wood chips. It took forever, but it was definitely worth the clean up and much easier to design after. Once cleared out, there was great potential for the space!

Keeping all those functional factors in mind, I also wanted to create a space that felt inviting and peaceful, incorporating collected pottery and figures from all over the yard that reflect my brother’s Zen personality. I wanted to use natural materials such as canvas and bamboo, find lots of comfortable pillows and create ample shade and lighting since it gets pretty hot back there in the summer, sometimes over 100 degrees!

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: A fruit bowl and greenery against a dark background

The Hampton Bay Altamira Tropical Patio Dining Set was the perfect size for the space! The rocking and swivel features allow the chairs to remain stationary, which is perfect during a party. With the swiveling chairs, there’s no need to pull out and push in, which is really tough on a patio covered in rocks. It also prevents the furniture from getting terrible scratches.

I included a potting table (Note: The table pictured has been discontinued, but here is a similar product available at The Home Depot) to do double duty, solving one our biggest challenges for outdoor entertaining. Before the makeover, all the food and beverages were served on the kitchen table, causing the hassle of foot traffic in and out of the back door. We’re a family of cooks and need our space to prep dishes, and having guests peeking over our shoulders is no fun! We’re constantly directing guests back into the yard. With the new potting table, we can setup all the food outside, and guests barely have to move. Yay for a traffic-free kitchen!

In-between parties, the potting table is great for planting and storing freshly picked produce from the garden. All the plants in the front and back yards are edible, part of my brother’s dedication to urban gardening. I found bright green pots and pot hooks in my Home Depot store. They’re the perfect solution for hanging the fresh herbs on the lattice backing.

The bottom shelf is great for storing extra pots, garden decor and tools. The extra storage definitely helps eliminate clutter around the yard. I chose to go with a water-proofing stain by Behr in slate, a dark color for a nice contrast. Fruit, veggies, fresh herbs and other plants look great on a dark background!

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: A potting bench that doubles as an outdoor buffet table

Lighting the Patio

Lighting was the next challenge. With warm nights, we often stay out in the backyard late. The Trellis Outdoor Bronze Pendant works beautifully in the space. Its design was a great inspiration for the whole space, in fact, with its dark wire frame lined with a neutral material. The lamp looks masculine and organic, and it’s a great focal point for the patio. The swag kit included was easy to install and long enough to reach the electrical source on the opposite corner of the patio.

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: Pendant lamp with dark wire frame lined with a neutral material

Sprucing Up the Old Outdoor Sofa and Chairs

The old patio sofa and chairs needed a bit of makeover too! First we needed a new coffee table, and the Corfu Patio Coffee Table was a great size.

Pillows are always my favorite accessories to refresh a space.  I found a ton of great options in Home Depot’s online inventory of outdoor pillows and picked my favorites. I paired the Bloomfield Outdoor Throw Pillow and the Hampton Bay Green Trellis Pillows for a little bit of pattern play.

I also found these great little succulent and air-plant pods in store. They really add a touch of modern to the new outdoor coffee table!

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: The Corfu Patio Coffee Table

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: A little bit of pattern play in the outdoor throw pillows

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: Great little succulent and air-plant pods

Originally, I planned to arrange the Hampton Bay Bloomfield Blue Floral Pillows (no longer available) with the other two patterns, but they looked great by the new patio table and my DIY centerpiece.

I created the simple centerpiece to add another source of soft lighting to the space. We wanted to avoid open flames, though, to keep the table safe for my three-year-old niece. I found these great battery operated LED Candles with a timer and paired them with a wood tray I had painted green. I filled it in with a few river rocks, and voila!

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: Hampton Bay Bloomfield Blue Floral Pillows

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: A simple centerpiece to add another source of soft lighting to the space

Adding Pieces With Personal Meaning

Sorting through all the great vintage and collected pieces around the yard was the last step! There were so many great decor pieces lying around. It’s always worth searching through your own collections to find neglected treasures. Gifts from friends and family and souvenirs from vacations added the personal touch to the patio.

After we finished the makeover, we christened the new patio with breakfast the next morning!

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: A wabi-sabi display

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: Breakfast al fresco

The Fire Pit

We’re big on recycling, so we didn’t just toss out the old benches and chairs. I used them in a backyard campsite! It’s where we’ll enjoy backyard bonfires roasting s’mores. In fact, we had a mini bonfire after the backyard makeover!

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: A backyard campsite

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit: Roasting marshmallows at the fire pit

A Backyard Makeover With a Zen Spirit

We love the newly decorated space, and my brother can’t wait to host more family parties and team meetings. It’s a terrific place to unwind, and it’s very inviting!

Camille Simmons lives in the Bay Area with her husband and her Yorkie, Spinkles. She’s worked in film, television and digital media and advertising. These days she writes, decorates, bakes and hosts parties. Her blog Planning Pretty focuses on sharing her easy, affordable ideas for entertaining, cooking and more. Read more about this backyard makeover on Camille’s blog.

Camille chose the Hampton Bay Altamira Tropical Patio Dining Set for her brother’s backyard makeover.

For more backyard makeover ideas and inspiration, see other Patio Style Challenges as well as our Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. And browse our online Outdoor Living Department for everything you need for your patio, backyard or garden.

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. Camille received the patio set from The Home Depot and a gift card. The opinions and ideas Camille expressed are her own.

Related Pinned Items