Before and After: A $2,500 Redo Turns a Bare Backyard into a Relaxing Boho-Style Escape

published Jan 7, 2022
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About this before & after
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It’s normal to want a change of scenery if you’ve been spending lots of time at home. That’s been especially true throughout the course of the pandemic, doubly so in colder months. So if you’re dreaming of warmer weather and thinking about projects that you can do come spring, take inspiration from this backyard makeover from Courtney Scott (V. James and Co) and her husband Nathaniel. Last year, all their extra time at home sparked them to look at their then-unused backyard with a closer eye. “Being locked down at home, we realized the importance of having a space outside of the house, even if it is only a few feet away,” Courtney says.

“Over the five years that we’ve lived in this home, we’ve had a multitude of ideas regarding the large open space that was our backyard,” Courtney says, but they never followed through. “For the most part, it was mainly used as a large potty for my Pekingese, Bentley.”

The parts that weren’t a dog bathroom included a covered patio — but that wasn’t exactly charm central. The blank cement floor had big, blank walls and no personality.

Courtney and Nathaniel wanted to turn their boring backyard into a relaxing place to hang out as a couple after a long day of work, and eventually entertain their friends and family. So in April 2021, Courtney decided to finally do something in the backyard, starting with the lower patio area.

Courtney painted the entire beige wall a bold, burnt orange (Sherwin Williams’ Emberglow) and hand-painted a white chevron design to give it a boho, wallpapered look. In order to help this space transition from daytime use to entertaining in the evenings, Courtney added a simple set of string lights for ambiance and a teal rattan “chandelier” to serve as a visual centerpiece for the space.

The dining table and chairs offer lots of functional lounge space, making the once useless outdoor area a prime hangout. “We were able to save money by reusing the outdoor table and chairs that we already had,” Courtney says. “The rattan pendant was upcycled, too, from an old table base.”

For the rest of the yard, Courtney wanted to create more space to relax and gather, so she opted for a swing set and a fire pit on a gravel patio. She framed in an area with wooden beams, then filled the space inside with gravel to create a designated area to entertain — much easier and cheaper than pavers or poured concrete.

In the center, Courtney added a multi-tiered fire pit surrounded by lounge chairs. Initially, she had her heart set on Adirondack chairs, but with the long delivery times from so many vendors, she decided to go with seating that would arrive faster. “I’m actually glad I did that because I ended up liking the chairs I found a whole lot more,” she says.

Another highlight in the patio area is a new swing set with a gorgeous view of the whole yard. “There was a point where I thought that the swing was not going to make it to the finish line,” Courtney says. Finding a contractor to take on the project was difficult, since so many were completely booked. Luckily, Courtney was able to find an amazing contractor to handle building the swing.

In the end, the project cost about $2,500, including labor. What Courtney loves most about this redo is how much she was able to showcase her personal style. “I love working with and using color, so being able to bring that aspect to our backyard was everything,” she says. “As soon as you step back there, you feel like you’re in another place.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.