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Outdoor Makeover How To:

Hello friends. Today i’m presenting an outdoor   i did for  It’s a 3 minute video documenting the make over of this space.  Watch it watch it watch it HERE PLEASE WATCH IT, and then read this. Or read this and then watch it. I’ll go ahead and leave that up to you.  But if you want to comment away, that would be awesome. 

OK. Here she is before:


Welcome to a very sad backyard of a very happy person.  HGTV asked me to do two backyard make overs for $1000 each.  Now, backyards aren’t my forte, i know very little about plants besides what i think looks awesome, so i was a bit intimidated. But the story was more about creating an outdoor room, so I figured i could handle that. I love rooms. Outdoor.

The parameters were it had to be done in 1 DAY, for $1000.  Here’s how it turned out:

I called it ‘Bohemian Treehouse’.  

Breaking it down:

Backyard rooms need three major things just like indoor rooms:

1. Furniture.  Obvi.  The choice is between an outdoor dining room and an outdoor living room and in this case I gave her mostly an outdoor living room, with a round dining table in the corner that seats 4.  

2. Lighting.  Just like an indoor room you need good lighting outside.  Ideally it would be above, which also creates a ceiling effect and helps it feel more intimate.  Also it distributes the light evenly for the best mood lighting.  (if you have a pergola that is ideal). But then you also want candles which would be the ‘lamps’ in the outdoor room and scatter the warm light around you, too.

3. Accessories.  For outdoors the ‘accessories’ are mostly plants and pillows.  I didn’t have the budget to style this space with drinks, food, etc, but i wanted it to still feel comfy and cozy – like an indoor room.  

So lets start with the inspiration pics:

I wanted it to feel kinda ‘treehouse’-y because she lived in the hills and was surrounded by trees.  So i wanted to go with that vibe.  Plus since i knew i wanted a bright hot pink color palette, which is obviously very feminine, i figured that using trees or stumps would counter that and help it feel more masculine.  If i had used really feminine white wire or wicker furniture with this hot pink palette it could have looked really good, but also really crazy grandma, so to balance it i mixed the two styles. 

To save money, i wanted a daybed because it acts like a sofa and a lounge at the same time, and its way less expensive than a fancy outdoor sofa.  Plus it has a whimsical, playful, feminine vibe that i loved.  

So i found this guy at my guys stores on Lankershim,  

She was $200 and 100% teak so its going to last outside year round (especially in Los Angeles).  I figured i could throw a foam pad on it and a bunch of pillows and it would be super comfortable and very affordable. 

Then at the Long Beach flea market i found 2 of these for $30 each. Here’s why they work:

a. They are around the same tone of wood as the daybed.  Not that i’m always opposed to mixing woods, but for tv it doesn’t look as good, and mixing woods can look accidental.  So I was happy that while the shape didn’t match necessarily, the wood did.  

b. They are large enough in scale to balance out the sofa.  If i had put two smaller chairs they would have looked way to small to go opposite a long sofa, so these being fairly wide balance it out. 

c. They are a more feminine shape to balance out the masculine rectangular shape of the sofa.  The easiest way to remember feminine vs masculine is feminine means it has curves – yes like women. And masculine means its straighter and more square or rectangular – like men. The perfect room has a balance of both.  

Next up? the rug:

I love this rug for an outdoor rug.  Its from Fab Habitat  It was $108 for a 6×9 and they have a ton of other really cute outdoor rugs, too. I’m actually wondering if these would be great for a kids playroom, too, because they are made from recycled plastic so they are virtually indestructible.  

You know i love hot pink, and especially for TV purposes, you need more color than you do for photographs.  That white pretty room in a photograph normally looks totally dead in a video, so you need color color color.

Planters: God, they can be annoyingly expensive.  You could literally spend $1000 just on planters for a space like this.  So i decided to get a bunch of galvanized bins from the flea market.  

These are great because they have age and the more age they get, the better. The color contrasted well with the hot pink (grey/silver and pink = good combo of cool and warm tones), they are inexpensive for the size of them and they come in all different sizes so you can get the collected feel.  I bought about 20 of them for $150 – some were huge and some were small.  

But you have to drill holes in the bottom so they can drain, and you do this simply by using a drill bit that is specifically for metal.  Put 2-3 holes if they are small in the bottom. You don’t want to put too many holes because you don’t want to over drain them and lose all the water.  

I highly recommend buying used ones. The new shiny ones just aren’t pretty, they aren’t.  Instead go for this look:

Cheap and beautiful. It looks collected, effortless and totally chic – without looking fussy and uptight. It has this english countryside vibe that i love. 


Lights: When in doubt go for ‘cafe’ style globe string lights. Yes, they can be expensive (around $15-20 a strand and in this case we needed 5 strands) but they are durable (especially if you live in LA) and give off great light.  They have that European cafe thing happening. 

I bought mine from Lowe’s but i know that Costplus has good ones so does Restoration Hardware if you want bigger and higher end ones.  

Then i used stakes like these with a hook on it to secure it to the hill:

And eye hooks (with an opening) to attach it to the roof of the house:

It was super easy. 

It looks low on the hill side, but its not – it cleared 6 1/2 feet. 


Why? To add to the treehouse vibe, to masculinize up the space. And because they are fun and interesting. BUT mostly because they are $5 a piece. I”m not kidding. The bigger ones were $10, but i bought all of them (around 8) for $50.  You can use them for tables, extra seating and plant stands.

I went to Alpine firewood in Altadena. It’s basically where tree guys drop off trees to get turned into firewood.  Don’t worry, they aren’t chopping down trees just for firewood, its trees that have to be cleared for building or construction, etc.  You obviously need to look for the most level ones to turn into tables or stools.

And then as you watch the video i put some on castors because they are SUPER SUPER SUPER HEAVY.

It was super easy.  Just buy 3 of these guys per stump:

Drill holes in the stump and screw those suckers in.

I bought them to be small enough that you can’t really see them. They aren’t terribly attractive, so if you don’t think you are going to need to move it, then don’t worry about it.  But in general i put castors on A LOT of things to either make them higher (like regular chairs to turn them into dining chairs).  


The little dining nook was cute.  I used the homeowners dining table and chairs and just threw a tablecloth (leftover fabric from my inventory) on it.  Disregard the pillows. The director wanted more color over there, but they aren’t ideal – they look crammed.  

There was also this dirt patch that I didn’t know how to address:

It was awkard and sad. Also notice the wicker shelving thing got an update with white exterior paint.

So i filled it with lavender.  Lavender is cheap (these were each $5), smells so good, and it grows like crazy without any maintenance. By next summer this will be a huge lavender field (but contained) and will smell soooo good. They are also very drought resistant which is obviously good for Los Angeles.  They look kinda dinky here, but by next year its going to be beautiful.  

As far as buying the rest of the plants i wanted a variety of colors shapes and textures – just like any other design.  I wanted some tall things to help it create a ‘room’ effect so i bought these fruit trees:

They were orange trees and lemon trees and if you put them in a big enough galvanized bins they will be just fine.

A simple rule for a collected plant look would be to have one tall, one bushy and one lower to the ground to kinda cover the other pots.  I got some with darker purple leaves, some with more wispy and some wit more graphic leaves.  Consider plants just like patterns – you want to vary the scale and texture of each plant (big graphic leaves with airy wispy leaves) to get a lot of contrast and to look intentional.  

For accessories:

We couldn’t afford sunbrella fabric which obviously would be idea. So i went for white linen from Ikea – it kept it looking really relaxed and inviting PLUS, you can always bleach white, so in a way they are great for outdoors (just not weatherproof).  Then We hit up West elm for pillows

Those chairs normally need custom pads, but i actually like how floppy and comfy the linen pillows make it look, and how it updates them a bit.  The West Elm pillows we used were from THIS line.  I will tell you this:  the accessories put us over budget by $200. But since the homeowner got everything for free and she was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO in love with the space, she insisted that she buy them instead of me returning them (which is unfortunately what i was planning on doing).  

From this:

to this:

Not bad for 1 day and $1000.  In fact, it was awesome and i would absolutely party there.  It makes me wonder what i can do with $5, 000 and 5 days……Any takers?

 I did one more that is online, too. But i’ll blog about it next week. This post took me like 4 hours so i gotta get to work….

CLICK HERE to see me in action, again. 



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