4 ways to upgrade your outside space

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Is your backyard ready for outdoor parties, barbeques, lawn games, and family dinners?

Your outside space is an extension of your indoor living space and a wonderful place to spend time in the Summer. Keeping on top of your backyard duties in the Winter is not always very appealing, so it may need a little sprucing up! 

Your backyard should be a welcoming space to spend time with the family or entertain guests in the sunnier months. It can get expensive to renovate your backyard, but there are many cost-effective ways to upgrade your backyard, regardless of the size, without breaking the bank. 

#1 DIY canopy 

Why not indulge in some alfresco dining this Summer? Building your DIY canopy does not cost a lot of money and can add a stylish eccentric vibe to your outdoor space while protecting you from harsh sunlight and even rain! Add some curtains for extra shade and even add some fairy lights to brighten it up at night. 

#2 Sort or replace your grass 

The grass can make or break any theme you are trying to create with your backyard, regardless of how expensive your decking is! If the grass is not in good shape, it will ruin the vibe.

Consider spending some time nurturing your garden by removing any weeds, watering during dry spouts, and even adding a small stoned path to protect the grass. Another inexpensive option could be to completely replace the grass if it is too far gone, or if you don’t have any already. Surprisingly, there are different types of grass that you can choose for your garden, but it is best to do your research first, so you can decide which is best. The most common debate for best lawns is bermudagrass vs tall fescue

#3 Build a seating area 

The best (and cheapest) seating areas are the ones you build yourself. All it takes is some old wood, food palettes, or even old bricks and concrete slabs and you can build a customised seating area. When you build it yourself, you can make it as big or small as you want, as well as decorate it in your unique style. Building your own creates that trendy rustic look. 

#4 Outdoor cinema

Once you have your DIY canopy and seating area set up, a fun addition to your backyard is an outdoor cinema. This can easily be achieved on a budget, with the only investment being a small projector to hook up to your laptop where you can log in to your favorite streaming service or watch old-time DVDs. Bring things you already have in the house, like a bedsheet for the screen and cushions and blankets to cozy up with, get some popcorn and enjoy a warm summer’s evening with your cinema! 

There are so many ways you can upgrade your backyard in preparation for summer fun, without breaking the bank. It just requires you to think outside the box and get your hands dirty. If there is anything this past year has taught us, it is that we need to spend more time with friends and family, and in nature! So make sure your backyard is up to scratch!

** This was a contributed post.

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covid renovation: wood pallet playhouse

It started with Pinterest. Somehow in my search for all things outdoor I came across a pallet wood playhouse. As soon as I saw it, I sent the image to my husband. “We can build this!” I wrote. “And we can do it for free.

Now if you were to type ‘pallet wood playhouse’ into any search engine, you will get hundreds of different designs. Many of them are not pretty per se, because the easiest way to construct a playhouse from pallets is to leave them intact and just throw up walls, a roof, and maybe even a deck. (See below.)

The issue with that is the playhouse is not weather-proof. Everything inside therefore is exposed to the elements. So while dismantling each pallet is painstakingly long and laborious, it will ensure a sturdy, sound, and dry playhouse!

So how did we do it for free? During COVID many businesses were closed. However, we were able to find a few that were still open in the industrial parts of the city. They almost all had pallets stacked behind the buildings. We went inside and asked if we could take them off of their hands. They were more than happy to give them to us! So after a handful of trips into the city with the trailer, we now had all of the wood needed for the playhouse. All for the low cost of $0.

Before we began construction, we searched online for blueprints. We found a website that provided thirty-one free playhouse plans. It took an entire evening but we finally settled on a design that we thought would look best and would be easy to build. You can download those plans here!

Having now possessed the plans and the wood, we got started on dismantling the pallets, taking off one thin board at a time. This will honestly be the most difficult part of building your playhouse. Pallet wood is either thin and somewhat brittle or very thick and hard to remove. Once it is removed, it has the advantage of looking rustic, and costing you nothing, of course.

Be sure to keep the nails from the pallets. I suggest using a crowbar or hammer to pry the boards from its base. Each board will have one or a few nails that you may reuse when attaching them to its new base. This will keep your costs down and save you from having to buy nails or screws for the playhouse!

Once we removed the boards, we started framing. Luckily, we had wood laying around from other projects and so we were able to construct most of the frame that way. We changed the door and windows. We also had to modify it to fit the different lengths of the pallet wood. You can add wood accordingly. If you don’t have extra wood on hand, then be sure to use the wood frame from the pallets. You might have to get creative, but you shouldn’t have to buy any.

After the framing was done, we attached the pallet wood. I asked Geoff to use the nicer pieces since I wasn’t sure if I was going to paint it or not. (Originally I was planning on painting the playhouse white.) This went quicker than dismantling. Each wall was complete within a few hours.

Now for the flooring. I’ve seen playhouses where they are without any type of floor. Because we were placing it directly on grass, we didn’t want to have to move the playhouse every time we needed to cut the lawn. Initially we were going to use some of the pallet wood to make a floor. However, by chance Geoff found half a dozen pallets with particle board. It was the perfect platform to place a playhouse on, having enough space leftover for a small deck. So we went with that.

Finally, the roof is also up to you. I’ve seen plans with any roof, roofs made of particle board, pallet wood, shingles, tarps, and more. This is where we decided to spend some money, but you don’t have to! One of the houses that we remodelled had a white metal roof. Since then, white has always been my colour of choice when it comes to roofing. Because the playhouse itself was more on the rustic side, I wanted the roof to be a feature and to look clean and crisp. White would obviously do the trick! We searched online for a few days, and finally found a local supplier that sold what we were looking for. We only ended up spending about $50 on the metal. It’s one of my favourite parts about the playhouse. (Again, you can use whatever you have to make the roof.)

Finally it was time to put it all together. Geoffrey took out each wall, and screwed it all in place within a matter of minutes.

Now the fun part- furnishing it! Because of COVID, I didn’t want to go shopping for things to fill the playhouse with. Besides, we had a playroom in our basement that was overrun with toys for the kids. I took out the IKEA kitchen set and put it in the playhouse. It fit perfectly.

We added a shelf to the back window (which wasn’t in the original plans) because the kids kept wanting us to order food. Now when they are playing inside, we sit on the exterior deck and they can easily pass us food. It’s so cute. I really recommend this addition!

I also removed two rugs from our house and an over-the-door hanger. I filled the rest with random items from around our house that we really weren’t using. I went with kind of a minimalist-rustic-neutral theme, much like what is seen in our home. Because of that, I feel like it just all came together.

I did end up purchasing a few small items from the dollar store. Yet, if I can reiterate once more, this entire playhouse can be made for free, or for almost no cost. During a time of a pandemic, financial uncertainty, more free time, and nicer weather, it really is the most fitting project!

Emory

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halfway backyard makeover

Hi, everyone! Today I’m going to show you the progress so far in our backyard makeover. First, an explanation as to why this was so vital.

Our house is more than a century old, so with it came with old problems! It was also part of an estate sale and had been neglected for many years. When we purchased it last summer, we were well aware that the basement walls were cracked. We also were told that at some point, the basement floor had gotten wet. Fast forward to this past spring, and the entire basement flooded. As the snow slowly melted, water poured in through the many cracks. This went on for weeks.

We eventually cemented and sealed the basement cracks and perimeter, yet the underlying issue was underneath the back deck. Under that rotted deck was a large, two foot deep pit. The power line to the garage was exposed, and mice had eaten away at the plants and other garbage that was down there. It was a huge mess. Our yard sloped towards our house as well, which meant that all of the water from the back alleyway, our neighbour’s yards, and our yard would drain into our basement. Hence, the urgency to rectify it before the next spring melt. Below are the before photos.

Geoffrey began by tearing out the old deck. He buried the power line, fixed the cracked foundation, and added more wood siding to the bottom of the house. Then he filled the pit with yards and yards of dirt, grading it as he went along. At the same time, he cleared away the thorny bushes and plants at the back of the yard, and found some extra paving stones. He used those to continue the path to the back door.

Inevitably, he laid down pea gravel on one side where the old deck used to be, and sod on the other. Then he built a small deck (as I call it), or large step (as he calls it). I bought new lights and hardware, and he replaced our old ones with the new ones, then the old garage lights with our old porch lights. Whew. There’s more, but that’s the gist of it! Here are the after pictures.

We’re going to wait until next year to stain the deck, paint the back door, and add more plants. The house also needs a new shingles, soffit, fascia, and eaves. We’re hoping to get to that in the spring. Additionally, it needs to be painted, and is in need of a new fence! Hence, the halfway point. Or less than, I should say. ;-)))

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed my little update!

Emory

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  • Welcome, friends! My name is Emory. I am a wife and mother to four (three on earth and one in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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