The Inspired Hive

Inspiration for a creative home


'Casual Classic' patio transformation

An old and overgrown outdoor space gets a makeover

I have waited for this day for so long! We spend so much time outdoors, and I've been daydreaming about revamping our outdoor living space since we first moved in. We've been chipping away at it for a long time and finally made a true plan this spring. With a new baby, two busy preschool age kids, and lots of delays related to the current events of the world, it took a little longer than expected, but I am so excited to call this space done (mostly 😉 ).

Boston fern in black urn planter

Thank you to Riverbend Home for providing product for this post. I only review products that I love, and all opinions are my own.
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Just as a little reminder, let's take a look at where we started.

Patio makeover before

All I have to say about these pictures is yuck.

Before patio makeover

We estimate that the floating deck is about 25 years old, and it definitely looked its age.

Before patio makeover

The gravel patio was overgrown and sinking.

And the garden was mostly random patches of lilyturf grass.

Patio makeover before

Next to our beige siding, it all just seemed a little blah.

We hope to rebuild the deck at some point, but for now, we decided to work with the existing deck and redesign the gravel patio and garden.

To see the project plan we created, check out my previous patio post. We decided to change the shape of the gravel area and garden, and we planned a few budget friendly updates to make this into a beautiful and enjoyable space.

Our updated gravel patio and floating deck

Ready to see some after photos? (If you squint, the 25 year old deck doesn't look so bad 😉)

Casual and classic patio makeover mixing modern and traditional style.

Last year, we coated the old deck boards with DeckOver. So it looks much better than it did previously! However, we have a lot of debris from the cedar trees that gets caught between the boards and is not possible to clean out, so in hindsight, I would have picked a lighter color stain to help hide dirt and debris better. I will share a review of our experience with DeckOver soon now that it has been a year since we applied it.

Black and white outdoor sofa

Our driveway is in between the deck and the yard, so we would often pull up chairs to sit here and watch the kids play. It seemed natural to put a nice seating area in this spot. Now I can sit on this pretty loveseat under the magnolia tree and watch the boys ride their bikes.

Outdoor sofa, fern, and teak dining table

I chose this furniture set because it feels classic and timeless. It was also a very affordable option. I'll report back on how it holds up over time.

Outdoor sofa and kids picnic table

My parents bought this cute kid-sized picnic table for the boys. It's been perfect this summer because I often feed them lunch outside when the weather is nice.

Gravel patio pathway and floating deck

By far the biggest change we made was the gravel patio. Previously an overgrown bean shape, we squared off and enlarged the entire space using garden wall blocks. We also created a pathway from the driveway to the gravel patio.

It took a lot of hard work to level out the sunken areas of the patio (some areas were up to 6 inches lower!), but it made such an impact.

Gravel patio with teak dining table

We love outdoor entertaining, so we wanted a dining table large enough to seat 8-10 people. I fell in love with the clean lines and simple design of this teak Northlake table from Riverbend Home.

Teak dining table on gravel patio

I love how the wood warms up the gravel color. Teak is perfect for outdoor furniture because it's naturally weather resistant. It will patina to a grey color over time, but you can choose to maintain the color which we currently plan to do.

Riverbend Home has several other beautiful options for outdoor dining tables and other outdoor furniture.

White bowl planter

I knew I wanted planters on the dining table, but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. I liked the shape of these terracotta bowls, so I gave them a coat of glossy white paint leftover from our kitchen cabinets and planted sedum in them. Now they add a touch of classy to the table!

Teak outdoor dining table with black chairs

I bought those black dining chairs last year. I liked that they had a traditional feel to them with the rattan and the design on the backrest, but still felt modern with the thin black legs and arms. They are typical outdoor restaurant chairs and are stackable, which is a huge plus for us when we get big coastal winds blowing across the field.

Teak outdoor dining table. Black lattice privacy wall.

Speaking of wind... we get a lot of wind. One of our priorities in this space was figuring out a way to reduce some of the wind. Someone planted a row of cedar trees long ago, which blocks a lot of the wind up top, but we needed a solution down low without blocking the pretty view.

Black lattice privacy wall

We created these 3.5 foot lattice panels. They don't completely block the wind, but they do help protect the garden and slow the wind down a bit. And I love that we can still through them.

They also help define the space and create a feeling of enclosure, which I learned is an important concept in the garden design course I took this spring.

Hydrangeas and black lattice

I chose to paint them black rather than the typical white because white would be more attention grabbing. I didn't want them to be the focal feature of the space. Black kind of melts into the background. It also creates a lovely contrast with the greenery!

I ordered Incrediball Hydrangeas to plant in front of the lattice. I can't wait to share an update next year when they are a little bigger and have blooms! They will look so good against the black lattice.

We also planted hostas, ferns, and hellebores in the garden. I plan to take a garden planting class this fall before I get too involved with selecting plants.

Gravel patio. Red metal roof on farmhouse.

Let's look toward the back of the house. The biggest impact here was painting the cedar support beams. I love the look of cedar, but they were infested with carpenter bees when we moved in, and the bees won't make new holes in painted wood, so we've been slowly painting all of the cedar. Also, our exterior was very brown and beige, so a little white helped a lot!!

White outdoor string lights

A simple change we made was painting our outdoor string lights. The previous owner left them behind. They had galvanized metal shades which didn't really fit the style I was going for. I spray painted them with my favorite Colorshot paint in "Marshmallow," a glossy white. You guys helped me pick the color in my Instagram stories!

Hunter green outdoor bistro table

I bought this outdoor bistro set ten years ago for my first apartment! It has served me well! It used to be white and was starting to rust, so I spray painted it last year and swapped out the cushions. Good as new!

Outdoor console table

Okay, this spot isn't quite finished, but I am so excited about this table! I held onto a console table from our previous home that I didn't really have space for in this house. I knew it would come in handy some day! We removed the MDF tabletop from it and replaced it with cedar. I spray painted the frame of the table. And now we have a great spot to place food or drinks when we're entertaining!

I couldn't go shopping for decorative things the way I hoped to due to the pandemic, so I staged this photo using items I had on hand until I can shop. I also plan to create some outdoor art to hang above the table.

Outdoor console table

See that birdhouse? I built that with my dad and my grandfather when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I had no idea that my parents still had it and they surprised me with it as a gift a few years ago! 💛 It has seen a few paint jobs over the years and was starting to look pretty rough, so I sanded it and gave it a quick refresh to match the painted bistro set.

Back door steps with traditional planters

I painted and stained the back steps a couple years ago. They will need to be rebuilt in the future, but they look much better for now! Our propane line for heat and appliances runs into the house by the door, so I strategically placed planters to make the pipes less noticeable.

Traditional planters

I love this mix of traditional planters. My goal was to bring some maroon into the space via plants, so I bought this smokebush shrub on the left. I also planted some maroon coleus from seed, but it is still too tiny to show off 😁

Gravel path and patio

I hope you enjoyed a little tour of our new outdoor living space. It's the perfect combination of old and new, modern and traditional. We are looking forward to spending lots of summer days hanging out here.

If you have an troublesome outdoor space, I highly encourage you to check out Garden Design Bootcamp! It really helped me narrow down my vision for our outdoor design style and also helped me find a solution for our very awkwardly shaped deck! Now we have a space that we love and we can't wait to tackle the rest of our yard!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, dear friends!


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Floating deck makeover before and after

Gravel patio makeover before and after

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  1. This looks so so good! I love the gravel and the lattice (a good problem solver!). That gravel really freshens up the deck (which, BTW - wondering if you could power wash the deck and re-seal it? or is to too old for the effort? Anyway - it can make a huge difference...
    Can't wait to work on planting next!

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