Before and After: A $2,000 Redo Turns a Run-Down Patio into a Breezy Hangout

updated Jun 11, 2020
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Credit: Vida Cornelious

There’s almost nothing more cherished in apartment living than finding a unit that features outdoor space. Even if you’re not hosting BBQs or movie nights under the stars, an outdoor room can easily double as a work space, dining room, or simply an escape from the everyday. But sometimes you have to do a little work to make that outdoor space usable, as Vida Cornelious found.

“When moving into my rental Harlem row house, the outdoor space was one of the things that I was most excited about, but the previous tenants left it pretty unusable,” Vida says. “The entire green space was potting soil full of old plastic pots, shards of glass and cement rocks. I presume the attempt was to be a garden, but everything was dead and unsightly.” And once the pandemic hit, Vida knew there would be no better time to fix up the space: “From the quarantine orders to work from home mandates at my job, I needed all spaces of my home to be usable. And with the summer coming, I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to create a space that was both ‘safe’ and serene,” Vida says.

Credit: Vida Cornelious

Vida began by clearing out all of the weeds and pieces of garbage that were littered around. Then, she hauled in sand and turf to create an artificial lawn in part of the patio. “The biggest surprise was in seeing how much sand was needed to actually level the surface,” Vida says. Total amount? 1,800 pounds! Vida brought in outside help to install the “grass” and paint the fence black (Behr’s Carbon).

Once that was done, Vida moved onto the decor. She wanted the space to exude an earthy, bohemian vibe, so she leaned toward furniture pieces with woven details.

Credit: Vida Cornelious

Vida calls the finished look “Harlem Boheme.” From start to finish, the whole project took a month and $2,000. She credits her mood board with helping her stick to a budget, since it helped her create a firm plan.

The best part of the space is the overall atmosphere it provides, especially in a city like New York. “I love how it really feels like an outdoor living room now,” Vida says. “It’s almost impossible to remember you re in NYC, because it is really tranquil and quiet. I also love that is is a great space for entertaining. I have lots of room to flow inside and out side as this connects to my formal dining room in the house.”

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