Eyesore to Outdoor Oasis: Backyard Patio Reveal

We tore up our concrete paver patio last summer when we did our exterior renovation. The concrete was sloped towards the house, causing major water issues in the basement. We also had some old concrete stairs and big bushes that we wanted to rip out. Privacy was an issue as well- although we like our next door neighbor, we wanted to be able to sit outside and enjoy some time together without them staring right at us if they were outside too.

Eyesore to Outdoor Oasis: Sima Spaces Patio Makeover

The Plans

I dreamed of an outdoor living space, including a lounge area, dining area, and firepit area. We wanted to build a pergola with a privacy fence, replace the back stairs, and add built-in bench seating and planters. We went back and forth with the design plan and ultimately settled on something similar to the sketch below.

Sima Spaces patio plans

Here’s what the patio looked like last summer (we purposefully didn’t make an effort to make it look good because we knew we were going to demo it):

Sima Spaces Patio: Before demo

Phase 1: Demo

The first step was to clear everything off and demo all of the concrete. We rented a heavy-duty jackhammer and spent about 2 days removing it all. We did this at the same time as we were removing our yellow siding, so we used the same dumpster to dispose of all the concrete. The stairs were significantly more difficult to demo than the patio- they were almost completely solid concrete. Josh mostly ran the jackhammer while I made trips with the wheelbarrow. I lost count of how many trips I made, but ended up filling about 1/3 of a 30 yard dumpster!

We lived with a dirt patch and no back stairs for about 9 months before we were able to start working on it again in the spring!

Sima Spaces back patio demo
After the siding was replaced and back door was installed

Phase 2: Patio Paver installation

I wrote a separate post about how we installed the pavers, as it was quite a lengthy process. We chose plain rectangular pavers to save some money, but went with a basketweave pattern for some added interest. It ended up being relatively easy to install and required very few cuts! Here are some photos of the before and after:

Sima Spaces DIY Patio Remodel
We raked all of the dirt smooth in preparation to lay the class 5 gravel

During the install of the pavers, we also started working on the privacy fence. We dug holes for the concrete bases and attached the uprights for the fence to the concrete.

Sima Spaces DIY patio reveal: basketweave patio pavers

Phase 3: Privacy Fence and Pergola

We used pretreated cedar-toned lumber to build the privacy fence and pergola. I wanted a modern, unique design, so we chose boards of different widths but spaced them evenly. We made a built in bench with planters on either side which helped increase our functional space.

To save money, we chose not to run boards horizontally across the top of the pergola and instead added cafe lights. We get enough shade in the area from our neighbor’s large tree, and the lights add a whimsical feeling to the whole space (and of course add function as well, since we can sit out at night!). I also added large hanging baskets of ferns for some added privacy and greenery. And in case you’re wondering- our neighbor said she absolutely loves it and wants a similar fence on the other side of her yard!

Sima Spaces Built in bench, planters, pergola, and privacy fence using pre-treated cedar-toned lumber

Phase 4: Furniture and decor

Dining area

Josh built a table for the dining area using the same pre-treated cedar-toned lumber. We can seat about 12 people around it! I planted boxwoods in the planters, which provide some color and are low-maintenance. The gray chairs were a hand-me-down from my uncle; they were in rough shape when I got them but I refinished them and stained them a soft gray. We absolutely love this space now and plan on using it as late into fall as we can!

Lounge area

I wanted a comfortable lounge seating area, and accomplished this with a 4-piece conversation set from Wayfair, the addition of an outdoor rug, and large cantilever umbrella. I also added some planters and simple, low-maintenance plants for some color. I love sitting out here at all times of the day, whether it’s with a coffee or a glass of wine!

Sima Spaces outdoor living space

The addition of some outdoor pillows, blankets, and candles add the perfect touch of coziness and comfort.

Sima Spaces outdoor living space, DIY patio

We also created a special place for the firepit, and it’s easy to turn the lounge chairs around to enjoy the fire. We’re planning on building some benches for other side of the firepit as well. I should also mention that the stairs add extra seating to the lounge area, as you can see here! The wraparound stairs take up a bit more room, but I love the look and addition of extra seating.

Sima Spaces Patio Remodel Reveal
Sima Spaces Patio Remodel Reveal

Phase 5: Stair Railings, AC Cover, and Painting Gutters

After the patio itself was built, we later built a cover for the air conditioning unit to make it blend in a bit better. The following year, we painted all of the gutters white and added black metal railings to the stairs. The railings were custom made by a local company, and I designed the AC cover while Josh built it.

Photo by Spacecrafting Photography

Shop the Sources

Sima Spaces Patio Reveal Sources
  • Lumber for fence/pergola/stairs | Pre-treated cedar-tone lumber from Menards
  • Gray chairs | Vintage, with custom mixture of gray stains
  • Cafe string lights | Brighttech
  • Firepit | AllModern
  • Cantilever Umbrella | Wayfair
  • 4 piece conversation set | Wayfair
  • Rug | Target
  • White pillows | Target
  • Floral pillows | Target
  • Concrete base lantern | Target
  • Bowl planter (on table) | Target
  • Large planter next to sofa | Homegoods
  • Tall planter in between chairs | Target
  • Hanging baskets | Home Depot

Budget Breakdown

One of the most commonly asked questions about this whole reno has been regarding the costs. We didn’t have a set budget in mind for this project, but we did try and keep costs down whenever possible. We had gotten a couple quotes on having the patio installed for us, and had quotes on pavers vs concrete. Ultimately, it was significantly cheaper to do pavers (specifically the type that we used). The table was a custom size at 28″ by 10′, so purchasing one was not an option (or would’ve been very costly). I also shopped sales whenever possible for furniture and decor. Ultimately, it ended up costing around $2800. Below is a rough budget breakdown of what we actually spent (costs may not reflect current material prices due to sales).

Sima Spaces Outdoor Oasis Patio
  • Pavers, sand, gravel, compactor rental: roughly $800
  • Lumber (stairs, fence, table, benches, pergola): Roughly $600
  • Patio set: $452
  • Decor (planters, rug, pillows): $323
  • Umbrella: $109
  • Hanging baskets: $30
  • Firepit: $273
  • Cafe lights: free (sponsored by Brighttech)- would have been $50
  • Plants (boxwood shrubs, ferns, coleus, grasses, annuals): $170

Total: $2757 (give or take a bit)

Sima Spaces Patio Reveal

For an entire living space that we’ll be able to use from spring to fall, just under $3k isn’t too shabby in our book! We absolutely love our new patio and plan on hosting at least a few parties out here this fall. We’re already enjoying summer dinners at the table, coffee on the sofa, and fires in the new firepit on weekend nights!

Hope this provides some inspiration to transform your own patio! Comment below with any questions or requests!

Sima Spaces Outdoor Oasis patio at night
bonus pic: the patio in the sunset!

Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, soaking up the sun on our boat, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio!

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  • Can we see updated pictures to the privacy fence so that I can try to replicate? In really trying to see the corner posts so know how the boards are able to line up for corners. I love the space and I hope to be able to share our results with you as well.

    • Hello! Unfortunately I don’t have updated photos… we sold our home in 2020! The outside boards just went up to the outer corner of the vertical post.

  • Hi! Looking at the before pictures it looks like you have a gate leading to the front yard. Did you remove the gate or relocate it in the renovation? Love the look and would like to do something similar just wondering how to incorporate the gate.

    • Hello! I’m just seeing this comment like 3 months later, sorry! We did have a gate there that we removed. We never used it anyway, and there was no sidewalk there. The privacy fence is a permanent fixture. That said, there is a gate on the other side of the house that actually has a sidewalk, and there’s another gate in the backyard to the parking slab that was functional as well.

  • This is crazy, it looks like a completely different yard!! How do you like having a chain link fence in your backyard? I’m having a contractor install a new fence in my yard in a few weeks, but I’m still debating between getting a wood fence or a chain link fence. Curious to hear your thoughts!

    • Thank you! It was quite a process but so worth it! We didn’t mind the chain link because we liked our neighbors. A wood fence offers so much more privacy though- but right now it is also $$$!! If you’re doing a chain link just keep in mind that there is no privacy, and if you have a dog that barks they might be more prone to barking. A wood fence offers more privacy and is better at keeping out small critters too. But again… the cost is significant right now!

  • Wow that looks amazing! And what a beautiful space to spend time in. I apologize if I missed this in the comments or in the article above, but do you have a blue print/dimensions for the pergola? This is truly an amazing upgrade you did there!!

  • I would love to know the width of your space from the fence/bench to the chairs. It looks so lovely and cozy!

    • Hello! I’m not 100% sure of the dimensions you’re asking for here- but the whole space was 22′ wide (house to neighbors) x 14′ deep. Pergola 14′ x 8′ if I remember right. So table/bench/chairs sat within that! Hope that helps!

  • Hi Laura,
    I saw your renovation on Wayfair, which I loved, and I am interested in the dining chairs that were used. I really like the style with rounded backs, and am interested in what they are made of… wood, or polywood. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of them in the explanation.
    Could you please let me know the manufacturer? We are building a new home and I would love to have them be a part of our furnishings around the pool.
    Barb Calhoun

    • Hi Barb, thanks so much for your comment!! Those chairs are actually vintage and were given to me by my uncle. I refinished them and stained them gray. So that’s why there is no source. They are one of the most asked-about items we own, so I wish I could find some good look-alikes! Good luck with your new build!

  • Absolutely love the colour of your house because it looks great in summertime AND in winter with all the snow! I will definitely go for a similar colour when I paint my house next summer. The colour is more green than blue, right? I’m not sure because every screen displays it differently… Best wishes from Iceland!

    • Hi, thank you!! This was one of those projects that I just showed an inspo pic to my husband and he created it from there… so unfortunately there aren’t any real plans for it!

  • Beautiful! We are redoing our Saint Paul backyard as well! Wondering the size of your patio? We are struggling with choosing the right size for our small-ish backyard. Thanks!

    • Oh awesome! Our patio is about 14×23′- the back of our house had an addition with a cement patio already present in most of the space so we just used the existing footprint. But we added probably 6′ by ripping out the bushes and going right to the property line with the fence!

  • Wow. This is a patio that one dreams about! Y’all did a fantastic job!! This gives me so many decorating ideas for our own back patio/porch! 🙂

    • Thank you so much!! We are so happy with it- it’s truly our own little slice of paradise in the city! Anything is possible, good luck with your own project 🙂