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.

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.

Laura Sima of Sima Spaces demoing back patio
Sima Spaces back patio demo
It took countless wheelbarrow loads of concrete to dispose of it!

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 will create a separate post on exactly 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

Step 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. 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

Step 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!

Sima Spaces outdoor dining area with built in bench seating
Sima Spaces outdoor dining space

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 in hand 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

Future Plans

We’re not 100% finished out here, actually. We’re planning on building a cover for the air conditioning unit so it doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb! We’re also going to spray paint the gutters white and add black metal railings to the stairs, as well as add benches to the other side of the firepit. Our grass could use a little help too, as you can see! All of that will be coming soon, but none of it is an absolute necessity at the moment, so we’re enjoying it as-is.

Shop the Sources

Sima Spaces Patio Reveal Sources

Lumber for fence/pergola/stairs | Pre-treated cedar-tone lumber from Menards

Gray chairs | Vintage, with 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).

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!


I’m planning on writing a separate post about DIYs for the patio pavers and pergola. Comment below with any questions or requests!

Sima Spaces Patio Transformation: DIY Patio Renovation

Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in St. Paul, MN. 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, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • 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! 🙂