Before & After: A Sad Patio Gets a Dreamy Redo with “Italian Courtyard” Vibes

published Aug 8, 2021
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Before: Plain balcony with minimal decor

If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space, you’re probably spending a lot of time out there this summer — hanging out, eating meals, or maybe even taking work calls. That’s how Sierra and Evan were using the outdoor space in their home, where they’d lived for about a year. And while the natural surroundings were lovely, the balcony itself was bare bones. “It was like a plain bagel. It had a nice base but lacked a lot of character and functionality,” says their friend Elizabeth Van Lierde of The College Housewife, who stepped in to help the couple design a dreamy outdoor escape.

“Sierra and Evan love to be outside and they spent way too much time on this patio for it not to feel beautiful and reflect their personality,” Elizabeth adds. As it stood, the patio was filled with leftover furniture with little color or texture.

Elizabeth spends lots of time at Sierra and Evan’s home, where the friends usually end up on the patio for a drink. One day, they were talking about giving the space a makeover; Sierra and Evan had no idea where to start, so Elizabeth enthusiastically volunteered and the couple agreed to let her give them a total makeover.

The patio is about 6 feet by 15 feet, but Elizabeth thought she could make it feel larger by creating distinct zones: a lounge space, a dining area, and a bar where they could entertain. “I wanted the space to feel like a small Italian courtyard with a California cool flair,” she says.

Elizabeth worked hard to source furniture that made the most of the tiny space, finding a perfectly sized sofa from Target for the right side of the patio. She paired it with an ottoman, also from Target, that can be used as a footrest, coffee table, or even extra seating in a pinch. Above, Elizabeth hung wicker lanterns that she outfitted with battery operated bulbs for no-wiring-needed mood lighting.

The new table in a round shape makes it easier to fit a couple more people around it for meals. Elizabeth also made sure to add in an outdoor rug underneath to help further define her lounging and dining zones.

On the other side of the patio, Elizabeth wanted to make space for a bar and a pizza oven. “Sierra is from Italy and they both love pizza so we ditched a classic barbecue and opted for a pizza oven to set them up for epic pizza nights,” Elizabeth says.

She found a table she thought was perfect at a local flea market, but it ended up being about an inch too long for the space. “The man I bought it from at the flea market was so nice and offered to trim the ends up for us which made for the perfect fit,” Elizabeth says.

The space above the table makes room for another lounging necessity: It’s where the couple can watch movies or TV, cast from a projector that sits behind the sofa on the other end of the patio.

The finished patio is a dream space for the couple. “Seeing Sierra and Evan’s expressions when we opened the blinds was priceless,” Elizabeth says. “They were floored by the after reveal and felt like it was so detailed and tailored to their personality.”

For anyone looking to give their own outdoor space a refresh, Elizabeth has a great tip: “If you’re not sure where to start on a patio makeover project, model the space after your favorite restaurant patio or region of the world that you love,” she says. “A patio space is a safe haven that you should be able to come and relax in and giving it a vacation vibe or place that you love to go to happy hour will help you achieve that.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Bare Patio Gets a Dreamy Redo with “Italian Courtyard” Vibes