Before and After: A One-Weekend, $725 Redo Turns This Mud Pit into a Stylish Outdoor Hangout

published May 7, 2021
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Summer is fast approaching, which means that outdoor hangs are becoming more and more frequent. If you have an outdoor space and are looking for ideas for how to spruce it up, take inspiration from Laura Giuliani’s (@lauraandthegs) backyard makeover.

Laura started with a pretty barebones backyard in the rental she moved into with her kids in summer 2020. “There wasn’t much of a yard and this big space was begging us to take care of it,” Laura says. “The walls were drab with chipping and peeling paint. And well, it wasn’t much more than mud and a giant pile of leaves.”

Laura wanted to make this unloved space feel more welcoming and usable for her family of four. “We dreamed up summer nights sitting by the fire pit, playing music, and making s’mores,” she says.

Over the course of a weekend, Laura and her three kids all pitched in to make the backyard oasis of their dreams. They started by leveling the ground with a shovel, then power washed the old peeling paint on the walls. The next day, they all chipped in with painting the walls a fresh white, then added gravel to the space to make sure it didn’t turn into a mud pit whenever it rained.

On Sunday, the final day of their project, the family put together their chairs (which are no longer available at Target but this has similar vibes), added in their new fire pit (also Target), and got a hand hanging some extremely atmospheric bistro lights. “By Sunday afternoon we were roasting marshmallows and enjoying our space!” Laura says.

All told, the project cost just $725 — an impressive feat, considering the massive transformation. But the best part is that it was a family affair. “I think I am most proud of the fact that my kids pitched in!” Laura says. “They power washed, painted, leveled dirt, lifted bags of gravel, and put together the chairs.” Doing the project together helped it fly by.

Now, the family has a spot to relax together all summer long. “We love everything about the after,” Laura says. “But the thing we love most now is that we have a functioning space and not just a dark pile of dirt!”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.