Backyard Bonus Rooms: Real-Life Inspiration for Adding Space Where It’s Least Expected
Feeling cramped at home has a limited set of solutions: Get out or grow out. That is to say, you can either move out to a new dwelling, or decide to add on to your existing structure. Or, in the cases of these real homes, do a little bit of both, by expanding your usable living space into a shed or yurt in the backyard. Erin and Nathan are the owners of a bohemian clothing shop, Tavin, in Los Angeles.
Jun 13, 2016
Glamping at Home: Bringing the Indoors Out for One Night
Nothing feels quite as rebellious as bringing something that doesn’t belong right through your front door. That’s why it’s so fun to have a tree in the living room at Christmas, or if you heed the advice in this post, set up a living room or bedroom outside for the night. Let’s get glamping! The recipe is really as simple as bringing some of your inside furniture outside to enjoy and feel defiantly luxurious for a night. Like camping, but a heck of a lot more fun.
Jun 9, 2016
A Gorgeous Kid and Party-Friendly Outdoor Space
Name: Beth Location: San Diego, California Our new home was empty for a while before we moved in so the yard wasn’t being maintained. Once we move in, we immediately started renovations on the inside and continued to neglect the yard. It was an overgrown mess by the time we started the renovations. We love to entertain but also knew we were going to have children. The space, which is about 1/4 acre, needed to be family friendly but able to accommodate parties and get-togethers.
Jun 5, 2016
Design Evolution: See a Tiny Patio Change Over 5 Years
The Tiny Canal Cottage is 1920s Craftsman-style house near the Venice Beach Canals in Southern California. Because the home itself is only 362 square feet, most of the furniture is built into the space, so they don’t move furniture around on a whim. That leaves the outdoor space as Whitney’s design playground, where she switches things up as needed.
May 31, 2016
Landscape Inspiration: A Dozen Lush & Lovely Townhouse Backyards
The outdoor design for an urban dwelling is something totally different to a sprawling suburban or country yard. There’s much less space, to be sure. But you also have to take in mind your neighbors (and how much you want to see of them) and also what feels appropriate for your area and even your type of home.
May 6, 2016
4 Ways to Put Your Sunroom to Work
Sunrooms are like bit players of a home. They don’t get top billing on the floor plan, like the living room and bedrooms do. But they’re important, still. They can be decorated and redecorated to serve a million different uses. Just check out these house tours for inspiration. Why waste that gorgeous sunlight on anything else? The sunroom in Irene & Evan’s Los Angeles home makes for a great spot to curl up with family, or to entertain and serve up cocktails.
Dec 17, 2015
The Best Party Games for an Outdoor Get-Together
Our best picks for breezy outdoor games that can be picked up quick to invite everyone in on the fun.
Jul 29, 2015
The “I Hate Camping” Person’s Guide to Surviving a Family Camping Trip
So you somehow got roped into a family camping trip this summer. If the word camping inspires a particular feeling of dread in the pit of your belly then you need our help. You CAN get through your ordeal vacation. Follow this guide. Maybe you think sleeping on the ground is for suckers or maybe you don’t fancy the idea of being shower-free for multiple days. These problems have solutions!
Jul 22, 2015
Before & After: Side Yard to Secluded Social Space
With a shared driveway behind her home, Anne had no private outdoor space to relax and entertain. This overgrown side yard might not scream outdoor oasis, but that’s what Anne created: From Anne: Thank you Anne!
Jul 20, 2015
9 Easy DIY Ideas for Your Next Outdoor Party
Having a summer party that looks like a million bucks doesn’t have to mean spending a million bucks. Here are nine easy DIY ideas that will make your next outdoor party especially memorable… and that won’t break the bank. Above: A wheelbarrow makes a great impromptu drink cooler. Spotted on Style Me Pretty. DIY low table (cinderblocks and plywood perhaps?) + blankets and pillows out on the lawn = an unforgettable outdoor dining experience. Image from Eye Swoon.
Jul 13, 2015
Temporary Outdoor Accessories & Decor All Renters Should Know About
You can still have the backyard or patio of your dreams, even if you rent. You just need to use temporary, removable accessories or decor that you can take with you at the end of your lease. Easy peasy. Outdoor Decking: Temporarily mask the ugly tile on your patio with these deck tiles that can move with you. The above photo is from a Swedish apartment seen on Dust Jacket Attic, but you can buy those tiles from IKEA. 32 square feet will cost you about one hundred bucks.
Jul 5, 2015
Before & After: Folding Chairs Go From Boring to Balcony-Ready
Anna had these basic folding chairs and wanted to use them on her balcony, but they needed some style first. Using a colorful oilcloth as inspiration, check out her quick and budget-friendly makeover: From Anna: The whole project took 8 hours: 3 hours to separate the seats and the backs from the aluminum frame 2 hours to paint the frame 2 hours to change the fabric of the seats and the backs 1 hour to put together the chairs. It cost €29.58: – 4 spray paint cans X €3.
Jun 28, 2015
Liven Up Your Lawn: 10 DIY Games to Make + Play Outside
Now that sunshine and warmth have arrived, it’s time to start hosting BBQs, parties, and outdoor hangouts. If you’re looking for some activities to jumpstart your gatherings, here are ten DIY ideas that will liven up any lawn. Top Row: 1. Yard Toss Game via A Subtle Revery: Bright colors make this yard toss set even more fun. 2. Giant Jenga via Momoluv on Instructables: If the blocks seem unwieldy, you could also use a rubber mallet to nudge them free. 3.
Jun 26, 2015
Before & After: A Busted Backyard Goes Beautiful & Bright
When it comes to outdoor space in the city, you often take what you can get. That was Julia & Bruno’s thinking when they purchased their Montreal home and inherited this dumpy backyard. If you remember their House Tour from last year, you’ve already seen part of the colorful transformation! From Julia: We did all the work ourselves with a small budget of about $3000. The main problem with the backyard was the old and dangerous shed. The first thing we did was to demolish it.
Jun 26, 2015
Before & After: From Down-and-Out to Outdoor Living
With their family home coming in just under 1,000-square-feet, John and Jami knew they would need great outdoor spaces to act as extra living/dining/play rooms when the weather was nice. Therefore, their messy backyard was one of the first projects they tackled after purchasing their house.
Jun 25, 2015
Before & After: Backyard Blank Slate Becomes Outdoor Oasis
Project by: SHIFT_DESIGN Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Client: Family of six When you live in a city, there’s perhaps no other luxury quite as coveted as outdoor space. This family had a long, narrow plot behind their home in Philly with lots of potential and they hired a design studio to transform the space into a lush escape from city life complete with saltwater pool, outdoor shower and fire-pit.
May 28, 2015
Before & After: Melinda & Mark Update Their Outdoor Space
When Mark and Melinda bought their home in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles in 1999, the backyard was littered with uneven, rocky terrain. The expansive backyard provided a multi-level outdoor area that boasted a killer view of the city, but, naturally, some safety concerns arose as their family began to grow. A few landscaping tricks and fixes added just enough structure to create the perfect backyard jungle, perfect for playing or hosting friends on a warm Summer evening.
May 25, 2015
Before & After: Fitting Square Tiles on a Round Balcony
Andréa wasn’t a fan of her drab concrete balcony, and wasn’t entertaining outside like she wanted. She decided to give it a makeover, and came up with a smart solution to fill in the gaps square decking tiles made on a round balcony: From Andréa: I really like the apartment where I live. It is bright with its large windows, located on a very quiet area, there is a train station only 2 walking minutes from it and very good connections to the city.
May 16, 2015
Before & After: Blank Balcony to Stylish Sanctuary for $200
Iris wanted to better enjoy her balcony, but it took time to furnish on a budget. She ended up with a stylish space worth waiting for: From Iris: Ever since moving to sunny California from the Windy City of Chicago, I’ve always wanted to create a space in my apartment balcony to enjoy the beautiful weather and views outside. I wanted a sanctuary where my boyfriend and I can kick our feet up and relax with a glass of wine.
Apr 30, 2015
Before & After: How I Restored Don Draper’s Patio Set
I own Don Draper’s patio set! I didn’t know it at first. It was just a rusty little table and chairs at the Nashville Flea Market. One of the chairs was missing some scrolls and the top was gone, but I fell in love. $100 later I was loading it into my neighbor’s truck. Lucky for me, there’s a powder coater near the flea market and I brought it straight to him. He had another company recreate the missing scrolls and weld them in place.
Apr 2, 2015
Before & After: Austin Deck Meets Palm Springs Meets Marfa
Celine from Aquahaus participated in this past One Room Challenge, and tackled two outdoor outdoor decks on the roof of her Austin home. Here is one of the two, which she calls “Deck A.” As you can see, the original space is reminiscent of an army bunker with tons of grey concrete (and even an American flag). After six weeks, it had an entirely new vibe…. Tada! Celine turned that underwhelming grey space into an outdoor oasis.
Feb 10, 2015
Porch Pizzazz: Halloween & Thanksgiving Outdoor Decorating Ideas
Before all those ghost and goblins come knocking on your door, could your front entry use a little sprucing up for fall? Whether you like to decorate with the natural elements of a fall harvest or add a little spook factor with a Halloween display, here are 10 stylish front entries to inspire your own. 1. Isn’t this just the quaintest house for trick or treating? The assortment of multicolored pumpkins that line the walkway make a statement by sheer numbers.
Oct 10, 2014
Before & After: A Outdoor San Francisco Space Gets An Overhaul
Steph endured two years of an ugly tarred roof in her rented San Francisco apartment before she realized that rent control meant she might be there awhile. So she committed to making her outdoor space a place she really wanted to be. From Steph: To create the space, I knew I needed some big pieces to draw attention away from the gray rooftop and dingy storage unit. I love plants, so I started with a few large ones.
Sep 16, 2014
Before & After: The Teeny Tiny Balcony Total Makeover
Makeover by: Judit Location: Budapest The balcony of my 1st floor flat is a mere 2 sq m, and previously it was only used for storage. I got rid of it all at the annual junk-clearing and set out to renovate. The walls have been repainted a new color, the old glass banister has transformed into a white-glazed fence and astroturf has been placed on the floor. I’ve mounted white curtains for shades and to add a romantic touch to this miniscule space.
Aug 27, 2014
Before & After: Backyard Shed to “Small Piece of Heaven” Playhouse
When Soffia’s family moved into this house in Alftanes, Iceland six years ago she dreamed of transforming this small shed into a playhouse for her daughter and son. The shed, and her plans, lay fallow for years until recently when she harnessed her creative energies and unleashed them onto what she calls a “small slice of heaven” for her kids. Soffia tells us: Most items are hand me downs or thrifted, so this was made on a shoestring budget.
Jul 8, 2014
Garden Design Classics: The Armillary Sphere
Armillary spheres (sometimes referred to as armillary sundials) are a common decorative ornament in many gardens but can most often be spotted in the traditional English garden. Today’s armillary spheres, used as simply a decorative feature instead of a scientific instrument. are primarily fabricated of metal, and have become much more streamlined compared to their ancient counterparts. So what exactly is an armillary sphere, you might wonder?
Jun 13, 2014
7 Creative Ideas to Make an Outdoor Oasis for Kids this Summer
With warm weather finally here, the wheels in my mind have been turning thinking of fun ways to get my little ones outdoors as much as possible. Of course there’s the park down the street, our little plastic play pool, and the tree my four-year-old loves to climb, but I’d love to come up with something fresh for a little added fun.
Jun 3, 2014
Before & After: A Sturdy Settee Gets a Makeover for a Patio!
On the hunt for something that would fit perfectly in their covered patio area, Lauren found this interesting loveseat on Craigslist for just $30. Sturdy, it had potential, and Lauren took it home to add her own personality to it. From Lauren: The wood on this seat was fully refinished and repaired before it was adorned with this native-inspired wooly fabric. The upper back rest was finished with a soft suede-like fabric and finished off with matching tufted buttons.
May 24, 2014
The Best Flatware for Entertaining Outdoors
What makes for great outdoor flatware? Above all else, it should be inexpensive and easy to clean (keep grandmother’s intricate silver inside). Bonus points for any set with natural or nautical details that make make a casual backyard barbecue feel like dining in a posh yacht, glam campground or lavish maharajah tent. Each of these options is not only beautiful, but priced just right to entertain four for less than $60 (and most are under $40).
Apr 23, 2014
Before & After: A Roof Deck Transformation
Nate and Michelle’s Greenpoint roof deck had a gorgeous view — but not much else going for it. They wanted to turn this bleak space into an outdoor room, one that would feel like an extension of the rest of their home. Through Sweeten, an online resource that matches New York-area homeowners with architects, designers and contractors, Nate and Michelle found Corey Hutson of Hutson Landscape Design, whose experience crafting urban outdoor spaces made him the perfect fit.
Apr 16, 2014
Before & After: A Plain Glass Patio Table Goes Bold!
We don’t want to say these standard metal and glass outdoor furniture tables found on plenty of patios, decks and more are ugly (they might suit you just fine!), but we don’t think anyone would call them particularly pretty. That is until you see what Rea did to transform this plain patio furniture into something eye-catching and unique! From Rea: It all started one sunny Saturday morning when I finally let my kids loose in the backyard.
Apr 5, 2014
Before & After: This Blah Balcony Goes Bold
Carolyn tells us that she loves her big, bright apartment but the balcony was “a bit rough.” She considered an outdoor rug or tile to cover up the peeling paint, but we think her final solution was a stroke of genius. From Carolyn: I worried about how those other solutions would weather the Canadian winters. In the end I bought a little outdoor paint and cut a stencil for a more permanent solution. I can’t wait to see how this looks after a couple years of wear.
Nov 19, 2013
Indoor Camping Party: Decor, Menu, + Music
The weather’s getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and cabin fever is imminent. A weekend in the wild would cure what ails you… but the weather’s getting colder, your schedule is jam-packed, and none of the buses or trains go past any decent campsites. Time to invite your similarly-fevered friends over for an indoor camping party, s’mores and a (inevitable) sleepover! The Decor: Sleeping Like A Log Pillows, Think Geek, 16.
Nov 13, 2013
Before & After: Patio Table Gets Rustic Chic Makeover
Intrepid DIYer Emily was looking for a patio table, and happened to score this one on Craigslist for free. But it wasn’t quite love at first sight. The chairs were covered in a weird mottled brown paint, and the cushions were falling apart. Plus, Emily admits, she’s not such a huge fan of glass top tables. (Not that I can blame her — my roommate and I had a glass-topped table in college and that thing squeaked. I can still hear it now. Squeak squeak squeak.
Jul 24, 2013
Keep It Cool: 15 Inspiring Outdoor Showers & Bathrooms
I love being outdoors, and I love long showers, so to me, the combination of those two things = pure bliss. Now all I need, besides an endless summer, is a backyard with a little more, er, privacy. TOP ROW:1. An outdoor tub under a citrus tree is just about perfect. From Alexandra Eliot’s 1890’s Farmhouse (click to see full tour). 2.
Jun 26, 2013
Before & After: My Teeny Tiny English Balcony Upgrade
Watson, my French bulldog, approves of the new front balcony furniture and window boxes filled with herbs. I have a notorious black thumb, so the plants were my biggest hesitation, as I hate the idea of making the investment in something that I have been known to kill in a matter of weeks. So I consulted my friends who love to garden and they recommended the heartiest of herbs, which include thyme and rosemary (also a few of my favorites when cooking).
May 29, 2013
Small Space Swimming: Lap Pools
We love a good lap pool. They take up a fraction of the space of a traditional pool, and their elongated shape is so elegant and modern. There’s room to exercise, to splash around and have a drink on a hot day (because isn’t that the whole reason to have a pool?), and you can still have a backyard.While an ideal size for swimming laps is 6 feet in width by 60-75 feet in length, you can still fit a pool that accommodates exercise in as little as 30 feet.
Apr 8, 2013
Before & After: Plain to Party-Ready Screened Porch
Bonnie’s porch was a great space with a lot of potential — it just hadn’t quite lived up to it yet. See what she did to transform this screened back porch into a party-ready indoor/outdoor room.  Bonnie’s porch is now a bright, cheery, vacation-like space filled with candy-colored accents offset by natural tones. The only thing that makes me a little nervous here is the firepit, but maybe it’s there just for looks and not use.
Apr 3, 2013
Before & After: A Mini Porch Makeover
I love a good porch. Maybe that’s because I don’t have one (and am dreaming of the day), but this one really caught my eye! At first, not terrible, but definitely not dazzling. And now for the after: check out that gorgeous, bright yellow door! The simplest touches, like the paint colors, brand new bench and pretty flower planter, jazz this space up and gave it a whole new outlook. Click on over to The Rooster and the Hen for more details on this before and after!
Mar 25, 2013
Before & After: Staffan and Rebecca’s Garden Kitchen
Rebecca and Staffan have been hard at work building an extraordinary terraced garden in Sweden since 2007. In such a short time they have carved out six terraces and built an unimaginable series of walls to hold it all in place. And then there is this one (comparatively) small piece — an outdoor kitchen with an extraordinary view.And then the glorious after – if I had this kitchen I think I would want to brave the Swedish winters to cook out all year long.
Feb 28, 2013
Before & After: Jen’s Wood Cut Garden Path
I love this true and honest account of using wood cuts for path making. As a professional I’ve never had the guts to try it because, if what happened on Jen’s first run happened in a client’s garden, well, clearly I would deserve to be fired. So I am grateful that Jen shared the ups and downs of her path project, and am curious as she comes in the the spring how the latest version faired.
Feb 15, 2013
Before & After: Katarina’s Rustic Garden
This type of corner is so common in so many backyards. Unruly, untouched and unloved, it is just not very friendly. This transformation is satisfyingly sensitive to the tree that shades the area and provides structure and turns something quite unappealing into something that is very sophisticated. See the step-by-step transformation below.1) Paint fence and the wall white – this cleans up messiness and brightens the whole space. It also unifies the disparate vertical surfaces.
Feb 5, 2013
Before & After: Erin’s Painted House
Erin lives in a row house with a brick façade that she and her husband found underwhelming. The brick was not the best quality and had mismatched mortar spots, and the bottom line was, they wanted to give their home some stand-out personality.After testing out 12 shades of gray paint samples, Erin of 110 + 2 settled on Sherwin Williams’ Classic French Gray for the house and their Citrus for the front and back doors. The gray is classic, and the punchy yellow is fun and modern.
Sep 14, 2012
Before & After: Family-Friendly Deck
It started with a splinter. We’d long neglected the worn, ugly deck off our master bedroom. It contained two chaise lounges, a plant, and a sand table for our toddler, but was still bare and underutilized. Then I got a nasty splinter from it — my third in as many days — and I realized we couldn’t ignore it any longer.It wasn’t a rash decision, so much as an acknowledgment that the deck needed repair.
Jul 31, 2012
Before & After: Adding Color and Texture to a Concrete Patio
Cindy and her husband loved the outdoor possibilities offered by their large patio, but didn’t love the boring grey expanse of concrete. With this shady spot offering a respite from soaring temperatures, Cindy knew she had to turn it into a more colorful, welcoming space for her family.After using a power washer to clean the patio furniture, she painted the metal chairs with brown spray paint to create some needed contrast.
Jul 13, 2012
Before & After: Restoring a Dilapidated Deck
When Elizabeth and her husband bought their house six years ago, the inspector told them the deck stairs should be replaced within the year. Every year they would add the deck stairs to their to-do list, and every year they somehow failed to get to that project. Until this year that is- after watching the deck stairs shudder when the family pet ran down them, Elizabeth decided the time had come to reclaim their outside space.
Jun 27, 2012
Jane and Justin’s Backyard Before & After
Name: Jane and JustinLocation: Oakland, California – Oakmore Neighborhood When we bought our house in 2006, it wasn’t because of the back garden. Picture a mess of tangled weeds, a steep hill upwards, broken red concrete patio chunks everywhere, and fence holes so big our 90 lb. dog sailed right through them.We were no strangers to DIY garden remodels and took the project on enthusiastically, but this — this was nothing we’d seen before.
Jun 8, 2012
Before & After: Bare Patio Turned Luxurious Cabana
Concrete slabs. Many an outdoor space has them, installed by a previous owner whose original intentions for the space are lost to time. It is easy to view them with disdain, a harsh element forced into a natural setting. Many people get rid of them, to be replaced by bluestone, brick pavers, or maybe even a water feature.
Apr 26, 2012
Before & After: 4 Garden Furniture Makeovers
With a long weekend ahead and a summer full of travel and fun in the past, I think it is high time I finally wrap up a few of those projects that I meant to finish earlier in the season. There is still time, and I am taking inspiration from these four outdoor furniture makeover projects…First up, old and tired becomes new again with a little TLC and some new accessories.
Aug 31, 2011
Before & After: Empty Patch of Earth To Fairy Garden
Did you know that “if you build it they will come” applies to fairies? Well we haven’t proven it, but we’re pretty sure. Crystal had an unused plot of earth at her house and decided to turn it into a hospitable home for homeless fairies.Charming isn’t it? We’re sure some fairies will be moving in soon. See more photos and read a bit about what Crystal used to make it on her blog, The Weekend Homemaker.
Aug 8, 2011
Before & After: A Garden Transformation Story
Apartment Therapy readers truly are changing the world, one room garden at a time! Today, Edgaroso shares his story: In 2003, two years after witnessing the fall of the World Trade towers from our Brooklyn rooftop, my partner and I decided to leave the big city and head to a quieter part of the country.
Aug 2, 2011
Use Bar Soap To Beat The Bite
If asked to design the perfect world, many would eliminate the presence of the mosquito. We’re sure they serve some purpose on the food chain, but right now, they’re just pissing us off. Every time we turn around we have a new bite! To beat the bite, try a basic bar of soap for quick relief instead of pricey over the counter products.
Jul 22, 2010
How To Make Your Own Backyard Bubble Solution
You may think the only thing required for summer bubble fun is buying a few bottles and small plastic wands at the drugstore. While these certainly work, there’s a whole world of bubble recipes that can create longer lasting, bigger, and better bubbles–and often require ingredients you already have in your home. These sturdier formulas can even allow you to DIY wands out of string for truly giant bubbles that will even impress jaded adults.
Jun 2, 2009
Frugal Flowers: How To Choose Flowers at the Supermarket
We’re no professionals when it comes to flower-arranging, but here a few more tips on choosing the best grocery store blooms to bring your arrangements to life. I’ll deconstruct the arrangement above, which is sitting on my dining room table this week. This was a slightly more expensive splurge on my part, since the roses were a bit more pricey than the flowers I usually buy.
Jan 26, 2009