This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a small commission if you purchase a product using a link in this post.
Secret Sauce: Now for the fun part - design! I am the first to admit that design is not always an easy process for me. I love doing product research and putting together mood boards/collages, but it takes time and there are moments when I have mental blocks. The patio project design process took about two months, since I could only do it in my very limited spare time. The silver lining here is that because the design evolved over several months it wasn’t rushed and ultimately this means it will be a more personal design that I love. I tossed around the idea of doing my patio makeover for the One Room Challenge, but quickly realized that I didn’t want to hurry this project and I would not be ready to execute in April. The execution of the patio design really only started in May after a few months of planning.
As a reminder, here are the “before” photos and you can see my full post on where we started on the patio here.
Design Process Phase 1
I now know how tough it is to find good outdoor furniture. I did extensive product research with the hopes of finding pieces that were durable, low maintenance, and high design. This project was easily the most difficult design process that I have ever experienced. Outdoor furniture seemed either outrageously expensive or very cheap. I wasn’t thrilled with the options that I initially saw and I spent countless hours searching for the right pieces for this project.
I initially wanted the space to be a lot of things - lush, yet neutral and simple. I was inspired by photos of french terraces and patios on Pinterest and pulled together the design board below. A wicker IKEA sectional would anchor the space and I planned on reusing my existing folding chairs with a black dining table from Target.
Once I finished this mood board, I felt like it was a good starting place but needed more work. I took a few weeks to think about what parts of the design I didn’t like. I ultimately decided that I wanted to consider an architectural element and also wanted to incorporate an out-of-the-box idea for a DIY to add more greenery.
Design Process Phase 2
I got it in my head that I really wanted a fireplace mantel on the deck. Jeff and I visited a bar in New Orleans after running our first half marathon together in 2017 and it had a mantel outside. I loved the idea of incorporating an unexpected architectural element outside. I had also been drooling over Jamie Beck’s stories and posts of stunning French chateaus and this also pushed me to strongly consider a mantel.
I was so invested in this idea that I even found a mantel that I strongly considered buying from the Big Reuse in Gowanus.
The fireplace mantel was now the focal point of my design and created the mood board below for what I felt was a modern yet traditional patio. This was also my first time trying to envision the green wall that I hoped would enclose the patio for privacy. This iteration of the design was progress, but something still didn’t feel quite right. I tweaked this mood board for over a month and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger and really start executing on the project itself.
While I was doing product research and working on mood boards my mind was still always on the layout. What size table to get was a big question mark for me and I really wanted to avoid having the patio feel too crowded. The fire escape gate on the front of the patio created a natural divider that I used as the line between the lounge and dining area.
The first big question was what side the seating area should go on. I initially thought that it would be better by the door, so that you didn’t walk right into the table. But we also wanted to make sure that there was enough space for a proper seating area and ultimately settled on having the seating area on the far side of the patio as you can see below.
Table orientation was the next question mark and I ultimately realized that I would need to play around with the placement when I go the table and chairs. The orientation below seemed to be the most intuitive and I turned back to my mood boards to try and make some product decisions.
Have you ever struggled with a design project? Do you find looking for outdoor furniture challenging? Let me know in the comments below!