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How To Create A Backyard Paradise

This outdoor space has been saving my life these past few weeks! To say we’re getting stir-crazy is quite the understatement (#quarantineBlues). All of us SoCal people know it’s a luxury to have a backyard living here, so for that I’m thankful. Having an outdoor place to relax and have fun has been great for our mental well-being. In the mornings the kids will hang out by the water table and eat some snacks, and I get to sit back and enjoy my coffee in peace. My husband has spent many afternoons on the patio working on his computer and doing conference calls. Early evenings we turn the patio lights on and the kids will run around to get some energy out before bed.

So, if you've been looking to put together your own little personal oasis, now would be a great time to do it! I've created a list below to help you get started...

1. Pergola: There are a few different options here if you choose not to have a pergola, but I would highly suggest some sort of covering for shade. You could purchase a patio canopy, a gazebo, or some pool sails for above your furniture. This will help protect you from the sun, so you can relax, read, work, drink, or whatever your heart desires. You could also choose to cover only a portion of the area, so you can have the best of both worlds whenever you'd like.

2. Outdoor Curtains: If you're wanting to avoid the sun completely, curtains are an easy fix and they look gorgeous. I would opt for something that's weatherproof, and fade-resistant. Make sure to measure correctly and order enough panels so they can fall naturally and aren't pulled tight across like a sheet. I like to bring them 1/4 or halfway around the sides of the pergola so they can block more sun if desired. Getting the curtains up can be a bit tricky depending on the style of canopy/pergola you have, so this is where you may have to get creative. A curtain rod will work just fine if you're dealing with wood. If your pergola is metal, the best DIY option I've found is by using commercial grade, double-faced adhesive and wall hooks. You can choose any kind of wall hook as long as it's not too heavy or large, and preferably one that will complement your design elements. A plastic "Command" hook would also work, and can be spray painted to match. Be sure to clean the surface well before sticking the adhesive onto the metal, and remember to space the hooks evenly to create a natural wave and bunching to the fabric.

3. Outdoor Furniture: Patio sets vary widely in price, but whatever you choose, keep in mind a few of these important factors. 1) A cover- this will keep it clean and dry and prevent fading of the fabric. The cover is also important for keeping the hot sun from destroying the wicker/plastic elements of the furniture. Like most things, the cheaper the patio set, the more likely it is to fall apart when left to 'the elements.' If you don't have a big budget for the furniture, a cover will be your saving grace for longevity. If you don't plan to cover it, I suggest purchasing a lighter colored fabric that will fade better than say, black or dark gray. 2) Removable cushion covers- these are important because you're going to want to clean them at some point. Especially if you have small children or pets, being able to put the cushions into the washer is the easiest way to keep it looking nice. 3) Velcro attachments on the bottom cushions. Unless you want your cushions constantly slipping off- I would highly suggest the velcro attachments to keep them in place.

4. Rug: A rug is the best way to give your space that cozy "indoor/outdoor" kind of feel. The one I chose for our patio is by far my favorite and I'm so glad I didn't opt for something more neutral (like I usually tend to do). Outdoor spaces are a fun way to experiment with color if you've been a little scared of using it inside your home. The important things to look for in a rug are 1) make sure it's labeled as OUTDOOR. 2) It's the correct size and will fit nicely under your furniture and in your covered space. 3) It's decent quality and won't be destroyed after some normal wear and tear. This is where I find product reviews to be very helpful.

5. Decor: The decor elements aren't exactly essential, but they're what really bring together the whole design and give it some life. Examples include: outdoor stools, plants, flowers, and centerpieces. On my patio we opted for a couple outdoor stools from IKEA. I love these because they come in a few different color options for the covering. There’s a metal frame under each one that makes it sturdy and waterproof and then you just pull the fabric covering over top. I also added a succulent centerpiece, a Chinese Evergreen in a standing planter, an outdoor decorative pillow, and some patio lights above. Feel free to dress up your space as much or as little as you please!

6. Table and Chairs: For our personal patio, we decided to opt for a picnic table for the kids, and are still looking for the "grown ups" table. The kids table has worked out very well though and is an area they can eat snacks, do crafts, etc. I added an astroturf rug underneath which was only $20 at Home Depot. It's super easy to clean off using a broom or a hose, because we all know- kids are messy!


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