...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I’m one of 18 bloggers participating in the Home Depot Patio Style Challenge. Considering this is what the back patio off the mudroom looked like when we bought the Underdog…

underdog exterior back

…and this is what it looked like after we removed a bunch of dead trees {and replaced the roof and converted the original dining room window to french doors}…


…and this is what it looked like when we excavated the entire yard last fall {yep, the old cracked patio was ripped out}…

mud 3

…and this is what the newly poured patio looked like pretty much all winter…

patio before

it should go without saying that we have a burning desire for a decent outdoor living space. Ideally, we’d like to see the patio off the mudroom used as an outdoor dining area. The goal is to make the dining area reflect our style {simple, modern, cozy} and make it feel like an extension of the indoors. To achieve the look, we’re using some new pieces, incorporating items we have on hand and doing a little DIY. Here’s the plan.

home depot patio style challenge


1 – I’ll bring in a pillow or two from the living room to cozy things up outside. I just bought these Crate & Barrel pillows and they’re great. I was recently asked to suggest a non-IKEA place to grab pillow inserts. C&B pillows are affordable and a feather down insert is included with your purchase. Can’t beat that! Of note: These are not outdoor pillows so I’ll only toss them outside when we’re enjoying nice weather.

2 – Stringing globe lights above the patio will give the al fresco dining area instant ambiance and a sense of festivity. Party on the patio!

3 – We’re giving Ariele Alasko‘s reclaimed wood wall panel our own DIY spin. Her pieces are amazing!

4 – On cool mornings or evenings, I can throw in a wool blanket that usually lives at the foot of our bed.

5 – My heart is set on a large succulent centerpiece for the outdoor dining table. I’ll use this oval concrete planter to make it happen.

6 – We’re using a simple outdoor dining table and coordinating benches for the basic dining pieces. I hope to show how this practical dining set can be personalized by mixing it with items from other sources.

7 – Mabrey enjoys pulling to stand {no steps yet! she can take her sweet time as far as I’m concerned} with the help of this leather pouf. On warm, sunny days I’ll carry it out to the patio for her to play on – or maybe I’ll prop my feet up on it if she’s napping and I have five minutes to sit outside in the sun. Dear summer 2013, please give me five minutes of sun-to-myself time at least once!

8 – This woven chair looks good enough for an indoor dining room but it’s made of rattan-like plastic and is suitable for outdoor use as well. I think it’s airy feel and white color will contrast nicely with the clean-lined, dark brown dining set. I also like the fact that it’s light enough to move around easily. We can move it up to our future deck when extra seating is needed.

9 – We have a bright green garden stool leftover from our previous house but I think it could use a fresh coat of brassy gold spray paint. I paid less than $40 for the green stool. Transforming it with gold paint will be a cheap DIY version of pricier drum stools.

That’s the gist of our plan. Of course, I’ll be adding greenery and maybe a surprise too. I can’t wait to share the reveal in early May on The Home Depot’s Apron blog. In the meantime, click over to check out a bunch of other inspiring reveals!

I also have a patio-related post on Wayfair today with a few more before shots of our patio and a brief discussion on painting the french doors. What color would you paint them?

images: 1-4) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking  5) Polyvore collage by Dana Miller, linked within



I tried to comment on Wayfair but it was weird. I like the dark gray/charcoal for your patio doors, although that may be too matchy with the screen? It seems like a classic, masculine choice. Makes me think of Farrow and Ball paints, which are successfully paired with brick.


Looking good, Dana! I bought a couple strings of mini paper lanterns that I’d like to hang around our patio somehow, but I can’t figure out how to hang them, since we don’t have any roof overhanging our patio. Any suggestions?


Fun plan. I really like that wood panel. Hmmm, might have to try that.


I am so excited about this!! So glad you are using the globe lights, they make things so much more festive, like you said.


I’ll be addressing that problem during our patio makeover too! Stay tuned…


how many strings of lights did you end up going with?


I am so excited to see what you do. Our backyard looks very similar… and I hate it. My one year old twins are dying to get outside, but I am so afraid they are going to eat the chipping concrete…


I’m loving those gold drums recently. I’ve been thinking of DIYing one, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing yours!


I can’t wait to see what you come up with. In regards to the patio doors, a colour that pops like burnt red/pink, dusky navy or grey/blue to bring out the timber and warm tones.


Do you think you could share the plans for your wooden art before the weekend? I would love to make that my project for this weekend!


I can’t wait to see it finished! I’m always at a loss on how to decorate our outdoor area. But then again, I have plastic chairs, lol.


Hi Dana! Will you post about house numbers and mailboxes? I think it is such a great way to instantly add curb appeal and I am curious to see what you will choose for your home.


Why not add a living wall mural like you have in the kitchen only larger – horizontal? Succulents, herbs, strawberries and ground cover do well and they can be watered with timer in a micro spray line hooked up to a drip system or by hand. Just paint the tube to match the house or hide it behind the frame. It might have to be taken down in the winter to keep it from freezing or it can be an accessory that changes from year to year. There are a lot of cool living murals out there if you Google them.


I’m loving that inky gray in the Wayfair post! From the pic, it looks like it has a blue-ish tent to it and it looks awesome!


Hi Dana, love the patio ‘decor’ you have chosen! But also curious to hear what you and HH are planning to do for the construction of the patio. Will HH be pouring a new concrete slab? Maybe a little grass for the kiddos? We have our own backyard reno plans this summer. I am planning to replace my uneven flagstone with a concrete patio (maybe adding a touch of color to the concrete to acheive a warmer grey and adding carefully placed control joints to create a pattern). I have also designed a simple, modern white pergola with fabric strips in between beams that can be opened to let more sun in. Would love to see what you are planning and get more ideas for my own space.


We paid professionals to pour two backyard concrete patios {one off the mudroom & one off the kitchen} and redo the front walk last fall. They’ve all been sitting under mounds of snow for months. They are just plain Jane patios due to our budget. In between the two patios in the back, we are planning to install a platform deck made of composite material.

Your vision for the space is beautiful. I can’t wait to see it come together. I’m going to be so envious of your backyard {like I am with the rest of your house ;), of course}!


Hi, I love your patio table. I was considering purchasing one from the home depot website but saw mixed reviews. How has your table held up to rain? Thanks!


After the first rain, we noticed splotching on the table. Since our patio table was part of the Home Depot challenge, I contacted them right away to let them know. They contacted the manufacturer and I was told it was a problem they had just recently discovered. {Would have been nice to know before hand!} The manufacturer developed a solution to rub on the table. Apparently, the splotching was due to the improper application of a finishing treatment. I just received my solution a few weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to rub it on the table. The table needs to be completely dry before application. We’ve had so much rain lately but it’s on my to-do list today! I will let you know how the correction solution goes.

As far as stability and durability, the table is great. Not wobbly or anything like that. We use it all the time to eat outside. If the splotching can be remedied then I give it 5 stars! I’ll keep you posted… Hope that helps.


Love the leather pouf! It was just restocked and I was curious to hear how it is holding up.