Thanks for joining me today for this really exciting post. Not only will you see my ideas on Spectacular Backyard Living, but at the end of this post you will see 14 other friends of mine who want to share their outdoor spaces with you.
First question: Do you live in your backyard at all in any season?
I am amazed at the homes in my neck of the woods. People spend so much money on high end flooring, tiled bathrooms and updated showers. They hire people like me to come in and transform the dream they have in their head to reality in their interior living spaces.
However, driving through the subdivision, which is not on a lake and not on a coast, you notice everyone has a deck. They are all walk-out basements but why if you aren’t going to walk out to anything? A few here and there have a trampoline and a soccer goal net, but overall their backyards are barren.
Don’t get me wrong, they have sprinkler systems, hire companies to fertilize and others to cut and trim. But they just don’t use their space.
When we first selected the lot of our home more than 25 years ago, we were looking for a pool lot. We also wanted privacy, because we were coming from a home where we could hear our neighbor’s conversations next door if our windows were open and when you stood in the kitchen washing dishes you had the full view of your backyard neighbor’s life because of all of the windows.
We had no idea if we could ever even afford a pool. This house alone was a HUGE stretch on our budget. But I believe in dreaming and planning for the dream…just in case.
So when they talked about the foundation we told them we wanted the concrete to end at a certain place because we were going to put in a walk out under our deck as well as one at the other side that they were including. We had noticed how the space under a deck was underutilized for living and we wanted to make it another great space.
So settle back with a great drink because I have loads of photos for you to enjoy!
The Dream Unfolds Slowly
It took years. The deck came right away and we built a doozie. I don’t know the dimensions but it goes nearly the entire width of the home and is pretty deep.
As you can see, the deck is quite long but fortunately deep, so we were able to create lots of different spaces on it. The flooring could use a staining but to see what it would look like freshly stained just check out the post in the forefront of the photo. This is Epay or Brazilian Hardwood. Very expensive but will never need to be replaced and since this was our second deck…treated pine or cedar have a life expectancy of 15 years…well, we didn’t want to have to replace ever again. In the end, the price was worth it. Epay also has the fire resistance of concrete and no carpenter bees, ants or termites can damage it!
I consider this spot our outdoor family room. It is just off the kitchen and another door behind it opens from the family room. We use this to chat on the phone, to have a drink and discuss work or it is the favorite first spot when guests come over and the weather is nice.
I have to confess that this year since our pool liner had to be replaced, we did not even begin on our yard until July. So these gorgeous plants are not my green thumb, but the nursery’s. I found out that if you wait until July the prices at a really great nursery are cut by 30%! Now if I can only keep them alive until our August party.
Love the potato vine, coleus and baby’s breath.
We actually added this huge dining area that seats 8. When we first purchased this furniture for the deck, we went big. We purchased the family room seating, this fire pit seating, the table and chairs, umbrellas and lounger all from one shop. We weren’t sure what we were doing. I mean that is a lot of furniture! But as soon as we got used to what we did, no looking back. This has been the best use of our deck since we installed it.
Casual dining alfresco style makes for fun evenings enjoying the outdoors.
Melamine plates and plastic cups have come such a long way in the past few years. Non-breakable, dishwasher safe and stunning designs available to match any decor. Found in most stores for every budget.
This seating area is between the dining and family room area taking 4 more people into a conversation pit.
A fire pit for cool evenings. Remember this deck is fire retardant, I would not recommend it on a normal deck. If wanting to use it for a beverage cooler, the bowl can be filled with ice.
Here we have the table flat and functional for simply popping your feet up and setting your drinks down.
This lone lounger is just outside our bay window of the family room. A little oregano growing for my kitchen. This is another spot to step out and get some vitamin d, read a book or take a nap.
We also added a screened in gazebo.
Gazebos are romantic and charming and add architectural details to your landscape. Ours is screened in and attached to our deck.
Shade loving hanging baskets greet you as you climb the steps to the gazebo.
This wicker is the real deal. I have owned it for 30 years and have painted it many colors. It is a bit dry but living in the gazebo keeps it dry and I love the rockers. We have used the gazebo for many things over the years. When the kids were little and it was raining we raced inside to read stories. Now it is a place where my husband and I will often have breakfast…there is a bistro table and two chairs not shown.
A simple jar and some jute filled with driftwood and seashells makes a great table decor in this space.
Looking in through the screen, you can see the view from the table and most of the spots in the room are just lovely.
I love to watch the birds so we have several feeders. This is our finch feeder and just below my favorite scent, lavender.
I loved the way they landscaped our natural hill with these stones that meander their way up or down. They look like they’ve been there forever to me.
The Plan is Becoming Real!
We next finished our basement and they cut out this double door and a window bringing great light inside and access to beneath the deck where our first step was to add a patio.
Since, we have covered over the original patio of stamped brick because we wanted it to all meld with the pool decking.
To make this under deck space a real haven, we installed a type of drainage that is like little gutters under the deck that collects the water and takes it away. It keeps it so dry that they installed a wood slat ceiling over it. Now we are dry in the rain.
This is a favorite spot for the guys when we have a party. They pull up a seat, my husband or one of my son’s do the tending and they are happy chatting away.
This hot tub is old. It pays to buy a good one in our opinion. We have replaced the top twice because they absorb the water over time and get too heavy. But oh my, in the morning, in the evening, after swimming, in the snow, this is just a wonderful place to enjoy the warm and therapeutic water and jets, talk to friends in or out of the tub.
I know so many people who buy them and don’t use them. I believe it is because they have nothing around them to enjoy the space and make them want to come out and use them. We use ours tons.
What a beautiful towel and lotion cabinet! It is kind of falling apart from being near water and all the years we didn’t have the deck above sealed. But this beauty is super functional holding tons of beach towels, goggles, arm rings, sun and bug lotions and a few toys.
This Is It!
I’ll never forget the day we were tossing tennis shoes in the yard trying to decide how big our pool should be. Before you know it we had a pool, a hot tub, waterfall, diving board and tons of patio space.
The dream came true and it wasn’t too late. I believe our youngest was around 10 years old and our oldest 15, so they had lots of great years to enjoy before moving out on their own.
This is our third liner and I went crazy or so my husband thought. This is basically a charcoal colored liner but with the water in it, the color gives off a very natural look and this happens to be the trend rather than bright blue pools.
Things change in any field and unfortunately when we put our pool in they weren’t doing anything but a white coping around the edge. The water feature was also very advanced at the time. We love it but now you can have fire torches, big fountains on the sides, flat waterfalls and much more.
I am all about hospitality and entertaining so having just enough loungers for me is not realistic. It is so much fun when all of them are filled and people are enjoying sipping, chatting or reading.
Every yard can handle the space needed for a hammock. I love this spot. I was reading there just this week. Listening to the waterfall and shaded by the umbrella.
It is fun to get a little tropical with our plants. I have a friend whose son has turned their garage into a green house he is so talented at the tropicals around their pool. But we have these Banana plants. I love them and they are actually from cuttings that my Dad gave us years ago and now that he is gone, it is a reminder of him in our garden each year. He loved our backyard parties.
Every year the plantings come back grow bigger and bring new ones with them! We have to take some when we move next year.
After an afternoon of swimming this is a favorite gathering spot as the evening begins to cool. It is also the best spot to make S’mores.
We love outdoor games and have so many, but one of my favorites is the old fashioned game of horse shoes. Last year for our Kentucky Derby party, we set one up!
This is a simple backyard that we transformed into a backyard oasis or vacation retreat that we get to enjoy every single day of good weather. What would we be doing if we had never put anything in the back yard?
Countless celebrations have taken place here…before the pool, we celebrated birthdays in the gazebo. We held my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary in the back renting a dance floor and hiring a band. It was a spectacular evening.
After the pool, we have celebrated my dad turning 80, my brother’s retirement, Kentucky Derby, July 4th, Baby Shower, Baby’s first birthday….I could go on and on. Not to mention all of the impromptu entertaining we do on weekends with our family and friends.
Now for more great Summer Outdoor Ideas visit my friends at
All of the deck furnishings came from Sam’s Club but they are well over 5 years old. How amazing at their bargain price that the cushions and the furnishings still look brand new.
Rug and vase of family room is Tuesday Morning.
Umbrellas, Pier 1 Imports
Melamine Dishes, Sofa Pillows and Gazebo Cushions, TJMaxx, Marshalls
Aluminum Loungers, tables, chairs bar, Lowes
Bistro Tables, Colorful Patio Chairs (free shipping using this affiliate link), World Market
Patio Fire pit, Target
The only new things this year are the rug on the deck and the pillows. Pier 1 still sells the umbrellas.
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