30-Day Patio Makeover

In late June I signed up for Serena’s Thrift Diving challenge: a 30-day outdoor patio makeover. Serena hosts these challenges a few times a year. Many of her followers sign up for the fun of it and for the extra motivation that comes with a deadline.  I’m an avid follower of her down-to-earth, informative and fun blog.

Our deck needed refreshing more than a complete makeover, but I signed up for the July challenge anyway.

Deck in need of refreshing

Deck in need of refreshing

I forgot, momentarily, that I would be in Canada for nearly a third of the month, so I quickly realized that I better get to it.  It was the impetus I needed. I pulled together most of the details before boarding a plane July 18th.

I found Thrift Diving through Leilani of Keeping Up with Mrs. Smith. Serena and Leilani are DIY goddesses. I admire their skills with power tools and their can-do attitude.

Here are the results of my 30-Day Patio Revival

Goal #1: Power Wash the Deck

Believe it or not, this step was the most intimidating.  I don’t own a pressure washer, and I’d never tried using one. It’s a powerful tool requiring precautions. I borrowed a pressure washer from my friend Jasmin, then watched a couple of videos on how to use it before getting started. Comically, the hose detached at least twice, showering me with a startling blast of water before I finally got the hang of it.

My son helped me move everything off the deck, and then I got to work.

Power Washed Deck

Power Washed Deck

Mouse peruses the clean deck

Mouse peruses the clean deck

It worked so well, that I used it on the back patio, in the garage and along the driveway. I even pressure washed the table and chairs out back. They’ve never looked so good.

Pressure/Power Washing in Progress

Pressure/Power Washing in Progress

power washed patio

Clean Patio, Slinky Approved

Goal #2: Replace the Outdoor Carpet

A few years ago, I bought a light-weight area rug to go under the furniture. On the plus side, they crafted the rug from recycled materials and it was incredibly light in weight.

striped garden mat

Outdoor Rug by Gaiam

On the down side, and believe me this is a big one for me, I kept tripping over the edge. The lighter weight proved to be a major disadvantage. Even with furniture weighing it down, the edges would still lift up.  My balance is not what it used to be. It had to go.

Outdoor Area Rug

New Outdoor Area Rug

I shopped on-line for the perfect size, weight and color and found one in a neutral tone that is warmer, softer and a bit more substantial under foot. It arrived while I was away. It’s not always easy buying something like this on-line, but I’m pleased with the quality and design. The 15% off coupon was nice, too.

Goal #3: Make Slip Covers for the Patio Cushions

This is where the pressure of the 30-day challenge really came into play. I bought the fabric for new covers several months ago, then got busy with family, work and travel. The fabric sat there taunting me. I envisioned summer and fall passing me by, with that beautiful fabric remaining folded and unused.  Once I came to terms with the fact that I had to make the covers in stages, it was easier to get moving.

I set up the ironing board and ironed the fabric. Done for the day.

The ironing board in the middle of the kitchen

The ironing board in the middle of the kitchen

Then I dusted off the patio cushions and brought them inside. Done for the day.

lindy and slinky on the patio cushions

My “fancy” cutting table, also know as the living room floor. Slinky and Lindy liked the novelty of the outdoor cushions on the floor

lindy on the patio cushion

Lindy is probably wondering why I don’t just leave this cushion in the open doorway.

I worked in stages to get things done, and low and behold, I had three new slip covers.

Deck cushions squared corner

Squaring off the corner of the settee cushion

recovering deck chair cushions

I slip-covered two cushions together. I added cotton batting for softness and padding. The covers are also reversible

rocking chair recovered

Recovering the seat cushion for the rocking chair. Extra padding, squared off corners in front, and curved seams in back.

The floral print fabric was a bit more pricey, so I bought just enough for one side of the covers. I bought a less expensive, coordinating green stripe for the reverse side. I also bought extra padding to make the cushions more comfortable. (Please don’t mention this to the squirrels).

I’ve never made box corners before, but I like the way they look. I looked at a few sites, and found not only simple directions, but a blog with a sample of the same striped green fabric. What are the odds?

Goal #4: Use a Stencil

Serena uses stencils in a number of her projects. She’s a pro.

She revamped this gorgeous bathroom,

made a folding area for her laundry room,

and she even stenciled these pillows

I needed to start small, so using leftover craft paint and a $3 stencil, I added a pattern to the underside of our small patio table.

Stenciled Table

Stenciled Table: I turned the table upside down on a towel, then used my craft light so I could see in the small space.  I repeated the stencil pattern twice using craft paint on the underside of the table.

It was easy and fun, not to mention removable, if I didn’t like the results. Since I painted the underside of the table, I don’t need to worry about damaging it with use.

Goal #5: Hide the BBQ

We only use our BBQ once or twice a year, so the rest of the time it’s pushed to the corner of the deck. Even with a cover, it looks like an unwanted appliance shoved into a corner. I wanted to find a solution to mask the appearance but at the same time make it easy to get to.

BBQ on deck (before)

BBQ on deck (before)

I “borrowed” this folding screen from our garage to see if it would do the job. I like it! I plan to keep it on the deck.

BBQ after behind screen

Re-purposed folding screen hides the BBQ and a cozy cat bed

Like many things around here, this screen has had multiple uses over time. It once hid my young son’s “technology corner”, a spot in our living room where he liked to sit with his friends and his plush animals playing with his hand-held DS. Year’s later I removed the damaged paper from the screen and re-covered it with leftover fabric from my first swing cover. We used the screen in the garage for many years to mask the water heater and furnace and to discourage small hands from reaching into dangerous places. I’ve now pressed it into use on the deck.

View of the deck behind the furniture

There is a small cat bed behind the screen as well as the BBQ. I relocated this broken cat perch (it used to have a third level) from inside the house, and moved the potted succulent from the back garden to the front to fill in the space and add interest.

Impulse Purchase!



These poufs are a complete afterthought, but one of my favorite additions. Boomdee has an aqua pouf on her deck. They’re part ottoman and part bean-bag chair. They make an easy-to-move foot rest, impromptu seating and a place to put your tray. I bought the last two at Target as they are clearing out everything for the back to school shoppers.

I sat with Mike on the deck this weekend, reading and chatting and enjoying the comfortable space. It feels good to have it pulled together once again.


deck before

Deck: Starting point


deck after

Deck: After (new slip covers, new rug, stenciled table, screen to mask the BBQ, a pair of poufs and a few more plants)


deck after.JPG

Deck: After (alternate view)

Deck Garden

Deck Garden

Special thanks to Serena for inspiring us all. Have a look at Serena’s Before and After post at Thrift Diving.

Do you have a room, patio or deck in need of some TLC?









80 thoughts on “30-Day Patio Makeover

  1. I love it, Alys! I know what you mean about tripping over the edge of the rugs. The more lightweight, the easier it is to happen! You’ve got a great space! And the stenciled table from underneath is great! I’m so glad you were inspired to work on your patio, too! I’m sitting out here as we speak, and I can tell you, it’s sooooo refreshing to have a beautiful outdoors! I love yours, too!


  2. I do indeed desperately need to give my back patio a large facelift, but it’s going to have to wait till my back is up to moving lots of large tubs with small trees in them, the swing seat, the bench seat, uprooting the weeds in the paving cracks and then, finally, sweeping and pressure washing, and new covers on the swing seat cushions… So, not anytime really soon, then. I do really love what you’ve done with your deck


    • Thank you, Kate. Given your level of pain and your recent surgeries, perhaps hiring someone to do the heavy lifting would be a good idea, while you boss people around. You can design and sew your slip covers. I sat next to a woman during physical therapy earlier this year (after foot surgery) and the woman next to me was *back* after first having her hip replaced, then slipping on her patio and breaking something else. I’m stubbornly independent, but leaning that as I approach my sixties, I need to stay off ladders and slow down. How are you feeling today?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love what you have done here Alys. I think the repurposed screen finishes everything beautifully – that would be my vote for top creative idea in the whole lay out 🙂 Your stencil looks like it came out very nicely and putting it on the underside of the table – genius. That’s the kind of thing I would think of doing after I’d put it on the top side 🙂 If you continue to have difficulty with your area rug and if popping those sticky corner thingies under it don’t work you will be fully capable of making a painted and stencilled area rug next season. They have many advantages: they don’t need shaking out, come in your choice of colour, pattern and style, nobody will ever trip over them and can be changed in two shakes of a lambs tail with a new can of paint and a new stencil. Of course I also love that the cats are included with perches both public and private and squabs are the perfect multi use last minute impulse buy. Brilliant job. I can see you hit the ground running on your return from Edmonton 🙂 I’ll pop over to visit your inspirations xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well done, Alys!! What fun it must be to relax on your ‘new’ deck admiring all of your hard work! The new rug is really lovely. Stenciling underneath the table was a brilliant idea. Enjoy happy summer days on the deck, dear Alys! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dawn. It’s really a lovely place to relax. I know you’ve worked very hard on your porch this summer, even venturing onto a ladder (gulp). Have I missed a post, or are you still finishing up the details? I know it will be beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My portion of the front porch restoration is finished! I spent the entire month of June scraping and painting the porch ceiling, trim, and columns. They turned out so nice. Although it was very hard work, it felt so wonderful to know that although I’ve grown older I was still able to do it. Truly empowering! Now we are looking for a contractor to remove the old paint from the porch floor, build new railings, and new stairs. I’m using old photos to bring our porch back to its 1922 charm! Thanks for asking, Alys! ♡


  5. It looked pretty cosy before you started, but looks even better now! I love the screen, and those poufs are ingenious. They really make such a difference! We have two poufs in rather brash colours and you have inspired me to have a go at covering them with some nicer material in autumn! We have not used our patio very much this summer as it is not covered… that means it is often too hot and this year often wet too. But one day we will get something changed…. one day! Thanks for sharing, Alys. And enjoy some summer evenings on your new deck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cathy! These small changes made it more comfortable. And though not obvious from these photos, we have a removable awning overhead to keep the sun at bay. It’s shade cloth, but it does let in the rain. We don’t have that problem (or in my book benefit) here of a rainy summer. In fact last I checked, we haven’t had a drop of rain since May. I hope you’ll find a way to cover your patio so that you get more enjoyment from it. Sometimes it’s just one small thing that makes a difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That turned out great! I love the attention to detail and, yes, the folding screen makes the perfect touch. My whole house needs a makeover, i think. There’s nothing really wrong with it but it all seems a little stale to me . . . sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kerry. The project was great fun. I’m sorry you feel that your house is stale. One easy and affordable idea is to simply rearrange what you’ve got. Sometimes this leads to eliminating an extraneous piece of furniture, or rotating art so that you “see” it again as if it were new. Changing color can be fun, too: new toss pillows or a different colored throw. I wish I lived closer. I love rearranging furniture! 🙂


  7. So beautiful and so worth all that work! I know what you mean about not starting a project because you know you’re not going to have the time to finish it in one sitting. Accepting that and doing it in stages is a good move. Love the screen, too, what a great way to hide the little used barbecue!


  8. Absolutely fantastic makeover, Alys.

    I know what you mean about rugs being a hazard. I’ve nearly had a mishap many times with them. Hopefully, your new one will serve you better. It certainly goes with the decor. And I love the cushions.

    I’ve got cushion covers to make – got the material but need to finish a pair of pyjamas I’m making for my daughter, which is turning out to be a looong job!


    • Thank you, Helen. I’m really happy with the way it all came together in the end. The new rug is far more stable and it’s soft under foot as well. I’m rarely without shoes since having foot pain and surgery for the past year, but when I sit there and kick off my shoes, it’s nice to have that underfoot. Indoors, we have either tile floors in the bathrooms and entry way, bamboo in most of the common rooms, and cork in the bedrooms. We have two large area rugs but they’re heavy and sit on pads. My sister is disabled, so I’m really aware. I hope you get the PJ.s finished to your liking. Do you have the summer off from teaching, or do you work all year round?


      • Working all year round, unfortunately 😕. At least by working part time I get to spend some of the summer with my daughter and relax a bit.

        Sounds like you’ve got great flooring, especially in view of your climate. Someone who lived in our house before us must have been asthmatic as our bedrooms are wooden floored. Eventually, I’d like to replace the carpets (or Lino) with something else in the other rooms and have been looking into bamboo and cork. I’d love tiles in the bathroom and kitchen but am concerned about breakages.


  9. I can see you getting carried away with the pressure hose, cleaning everything in sight! The cats must have done a quick scamper 🙂 but they seem to have approved all the other things you have done. It was clever of you to break it into stages, and each stage seemed to lead to the next. Your patio looks like a lovely place to relax with the family and enjoy the quiet at the end of the day. May there be many times there in your future!


    • Thank you so much, Ann. It’s funny how often we put off starting something, only to find great joy in the process once we get going. I enjoy sewing, but I don’t have the best set up so I often put it off. Once I decide to just deal with having the fold up table in the living room and a mess in the corner for awhile, then I’m ok. I’ve dreamed for a lifetime of having my own sewing room. Perhaps one day.

      As for the kitties, I made sure they were all indoors before I started as the power washer is quite powerful. They were realty interested when I was done, though.


      • So true that we put up barriers to getting going with creative work. I have many! At the moment my ‘favourite’ is that it is too cold to work in my Playroom. Come Summer and it will be too hot!
        Will your next project be to create your own sewing nook?


        • That we do, Anne.

          I’m afraid my dream of a sewing room is still two years away. My youngest is going to be a junior in high school this year. He graduates in 2018. While I’m feeling sad over his college departure (his brother is already entering his second year in college) I can direct my focus to a crafting/sewing room.


  10. Isn’t using the pressure washer fun? I’m going to try to get mine going today to clean up paint drips. 😦 I have yet to do the part of making pretty. You have done such a wonderful job there using mostly what you already have. The screen is wonderful. I’d love to find one someday. I like the fabric in it. The succulent planter looks luscious. I know how it makes one feel to have things spruced up. It lightens up the space and makes it feel alive again. Well done. Hugs.


    • Thank you, Marlene. You’re the world’s best cheerleader!

      Power washing is fun. It’s amazing what a good job it does. I did inadvertently remove some of the paint from the house, but my guess is that it was loose to begin with. Oops. I made sure all three cats were secure in the house before getting started. It’s funny how curious they were when I let them explore.

      It seems to me that you’ve been doing a lot of sprucing up from the moment you bought your new house. All these projects seem to take more time than you think they will.

      What has your weather been like? Have you been indoors sewing and reading, our outside gardening and clearing?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always wanted to be a cheerleader, Alys. 🙂 Yes, everything takes longer than you plan. Working on a post and just haven’t had the energy to get it done. I’ve been mostly outside cleaning up. Doing a lot of clutter clearing inside so little else is getting accomplished. Today is a day of introspection and finding a way to heal. Lots of books on the subject and I think I’ve found the link I need. Tired of being fat, sick and tired. Now that I have the outside done, I’m working on the inside but primarily, the inside of me. It all takes a lot of energy which I have little of anymore. People think you use a lot of water when you pressure wash but that’s just not true. It just puts a little under extreme pressure to do better work. Good thinking to get Kitties inside. 🙂


  11. Good on you, Alys! The patio looks wonderful. I’m so impressed that you managed to meet the challenge even though you travelled to Canada.
    By the way, I had to chuckle at your experience with the power / pressure washer, in particular using it on everything else that needed cleaning. Two years ago, I borrowed one and once done with the patio, moved on to several other things.


      • Thank you! A little time pressure can be a good thing, as long as the goals are reasonable.

        Aren’t power washers fun? The results are immediate and stunning. I looked at them at Home Depot a few weeks ago, and was stunned to see that they come in five to seven sizes and price points. I’m lucky to be able to borrow one


      • I wish I lived closer. I would head over to help. Sometimes friends team up to help each other with this kind of project. You could enlist a friend to help you, then return the favor. You could even consolidate a dump run, charity run, recycle run together.

        OR…let me know your goals and I’ll coach you remotely. A good goal might be tied to an event, for instance finish by labor day. Then set a reward.


  12. Looks beautiful although it already looked pretty great before!! I love your deck. It’s huge!! You and Judy just whip up cushions in a snap. I want summer to last forever- enjoy your fresh space. I love how you also haven’t forgotten the cat!


  13. Good Morning Cali Girl. It’s not easy going from cozy to stylish but you’ve managed with gusto. I love the new ‘clean’ look. I’m slowly attempting this around the house too by gravitating to less busy fabrics in lighter colours. Your new rug is a really great compliment to your decking too.

    I love how your deck turned out. Is it stained at all or is it cedar? It’s a nice colour. You may have noticed ours already needs new stain. Even though Jim worked hard at it just last summer. It hasn’t held up well at all. I don’t think he wants to re-sand it again. We might go for trexdeck or similar and skip the staining forever.

    You’re a whiz on your sewing machine, the boxed corners are a great look, so tailored. Tailored and neutralized adds to that polished look. I must pop over to your challenger and see what’s going on there. I love before and after’s, your photo’s really showed it off well. Great job hon!! xo ❤ k


    • Thank you, my sweet! It does have a cleaner look, doesn’t it? The neutral in the rug and the poufs are a nice balance to the soft floral. I really liked those cushions six years ago, but now they seem dated. I’m glad they’ve held up though, so I could simply recover and not replace them.

      As for the deck, it’s made from a wood called Ipe. Here is a small write-up: Rated as very durable; excellent insect resistance, though some species are susceptible to marine borers. Superb weathering characteristics. (Ipe was used for the boardwalk along the beach of New York City’s Coney Island, and was said to have lasted 25 years before it needed to be replaced: an amazing lifespan given the amount of traffic and environmental stresses put upon the wood.)

      Also: Ipe is a wood of extremes: extremely dense and durable, as well as extremely difficult to work. Its incredible hardness and strength make it well suited for flooring applications, though it is referred to as “Brazilian Walnut” among flooring dealers—though it is not related to true Walnut in the Juglans genus.

      We also considered Trex for the same reasons (low maintenance) but it’s hot underfoot, something you wouldn’t generally have to worry about in Canada.

      Mike oiled the deck twice, making it a brighter red, but I’ve actually preferred it without the oil in it’s greying color. It cleaned up nicely after the power wash, and now shows more of the grain.

      I didn’t notice a hair out of place at your house, so if something needed new stain, only you can see it. You keep an impeccable house.

      Thanks for all your kind words. Two years from now when both boys are in college, I’ll be able to reclaim a bit of real estate and set up my sewing machine for good. For now, I haul it out and set it up in the living room, so it seems like a bit of extra work. I do enjoy it though. Mwaaaaa

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh honey, while I do try and be tidy…I’m certain it’s lighting on dimmer switches -vs- impeccable 😀 But thanks kindly. Just today, I knelt down to tidy up one of Petals morning purges and got within eyeball distance of the nearby baseboard……yipes! Hair and dust in spades. A wipe with a damp cloth left it black….so, nope….no impeccability could be found, LOL xo ❤ I try not to go overboard but while getting out a 1/4 cup measure this morning to back cookies, I stopped to reorganize our entire collection of Tupperware/food savers. ??? why? Because I spotted a stray lid, LOL. "oh what does this go with"….1/2 hour later, I got back to cookie baking. No wonder the day flys by. xo ❤


        • Oh my gosh…you are me. I do that sort of thing all the time. I’ll look for something, and before you know it I’ve reorganized half the kitchen. So funny.

          Here is my latest idea for cat litter. Kitty walks onto a designated area and takes care of business. Once they walk away, a trap door opens up and deposits everything below. A long scoop extends, clearing out the deposits to an outside receptacle. Then the clean litter is returned to the surface for the next time. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

            • Alternatively, some people teach cats how to use a human toilet. I can’t quite imagine that, but power to them. We’re in a drought, so extra flushing isn’t in the cards. [snort]

              I do remember the early years of clay cat litter. You could only scoop the solids, and before long, had to dump the whole thing and start over. I like the lighter weight, scoopable litter. We tried the super lightweight litter, but it created way too much dust, so I went back to using the Arm and Hammer Clump and Seal. The cats like it, I like it, life is good.

              Liked by 1 person

  14. Your outdoor patio makeover was such a good refresh! I love your shade and pretty plants. I imaging you are spending a lot of relaxing time outside and enjoying the nice summer weather. We started using our backyard for the first time in a long time after the makeover made it look inviting:)


    • It’s amazing what a bit of freshening up can do. And your view of the water is spectacular!

      Ironically, shortly after finishing, we settled into a heat wave along with three spare the air days. The smog is terrible here in August, made worse this year by a nearby forest fire. I hope by early September it all settles down so we can go back to enjoying it. Thanks for stopping by, Wendi.


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