Before and After: An “Unusable” Patio Turned Enchanting Retreat for $3000

published Sep 12, 2020
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About this before & after
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Before: bare yard with tiny patio and a few seats
Credit: Brian Bigalke

Not every project is a weekend project. Sometimes, projects take a more gradual approach, with transformations that happen over a matter of years rather than days.

Need proof? Take Brian Bigalke’s yard, which left a lot to be desired when he first saw it. “When I moved into the house built in the 1950s, the backyard was completely in shambles,” Brian says. “Mud, debris, all dead shrubbery all made it unusable, not to mention lack of privacy.”

Thankfully, Brian saw the potential in this space and began a slow process of turning it into the ultimate backyard hangout.

Credit: Brian Bigalke

Over the course of five years, Brian scoured Craigslist, garden store sales, and more to find bargains for his yard project. He did the whole project himself, too, except for a bit of help from a neighbor when it came to building the new wood deck.

“My goal was to create a sophisticated, intimate, and inviting outdoor sanctuary for entertaining, gardening, and meditation,” Brian says.

One major change that got him there: replacing the old crumbling stone wall and the old chain link fence with wood fencing, which adds plenty of privacy and looks way more upscale, to boot. Brian also added in all-new landscaping, accented with old bricks and large rocks that he found while leveling out the yard’s soil. Incorporating them into the garden makes it feel like it’s always been there.

Credit: Brian Bigalke

Adding multiple zones to the yard helps make it feel extra luxe. In addition to a conversation area filled with cushy chairs, there’s also a small dining area in the back next to the grill. A mix of bricks and pavers help connect the two decks.

Brian was able to do this entire project for $3000 thanks to patience, a willingness to do everything himself, and smart shopping of sales and secondhand finds.

Credit: Brian Bigalke

And as beautiful as the space is during the day, it looks especially captivating at night when the path lights are all glowing. The after, Brian says, makes him feel “accomplished, proud, peaceful and creatively inspired to continue the process of creating beauty in response adversity.”

Credit: Brian Bigalke

Brian’s still thinking about additions he’d like to make the yard, including a stone fireplace and a waterfall. But in the meantime, he loves spending time out here relaxing. “My ultimate backyard enjoyment comes from morning coffee while listening to classical music with my little dog Zeus, and evening cocktails doing same,” he says. The ultimate bliss!

Inspired? Submit your own project here.