Once upon a time, Jamin and Ashley Mills’ Montgomery, Alabama backyard was a pretty ordinary-looking affair. A concrete back porch met the back of the brownish house, which had paned windows trimmed in white, but not much going on in the way of decor.
The couple lives a much more joyful and exciting life than this uninspired space suggested, so they set about to make it a vibrant family space for all sorts of activities. See how it looks now — and how it came to be.
A brand new room
The only task a contractor stepped in for was to help the family create an additional enclosed room out of what was once the back porch. They call this room “the veranda.”
They painted the walls in cheery blue and white stripes, and furnished it with a collection of inviting seating, a zebra-print rug, and a gallery wall of family photos.
“It’s small, but it’s one of the best things we ever did for our home,” Ashley wrote on the blog. “You’d be amazed at what adding another room can do.”
A new porch
Having enclosed the old porch, the couple poured concrete for a new one, over which they built a pergola.
They painted a whimsical diamond pattern on the concrete, and chose a sunshine-y yellow paint to make the back door pop.
“I’ve always wanted a yellow door,” Ashley wrote on the blog. “It just makes me so happy.”
More room for entertaining
They also extended the patio area with the addition of some paver stones, and added a fire pit for hot dogs and s’mores. A swing finished off the supremely inviting space.
While furnishing the area, Ashley fell in love with some chairs her sister found at World Market for $25 each, but inventory was sparse. However, with the help of family members willing to drive around the region, she scored the six remaining ones available. The chairs were originally cream, but Ashley painted them all blue or white, leaving some of the chairs’ arms off for variety.
They spruced up a table made from an old door they picked up at a flea market in Nashville years earlier. Ashley scrubbed it down, sealed in the old paint, built a base and then topped it off with a piece of cut glass from the local glass store.
A gigantic metal "M" decor piece was also a flea market score. And the couple brought in plenty of bright color with outdoor fabrics, sewn into pillows.
The first step toward revamping the backyard, the couple decided, was a playhouse. But no ordinary plastic mass-market product would do for the three kids in this family.
“If there was one thing I wanted, growing up, it was a tree house,” Ashley wrote on the family’s blog. So she set out to create a special one for her kids (and for herself, too)!
The couple DIY'd a deck, walls, railing, shutters, and roof, finishing off the imagination-insipring play space with curtains, kid-sized furnishings, and other decorations, plus a slide.
A modest budget
The total outdoor overhaul took place over a period of about five months, during which time the family continued to save for parts of the project. But in all, the costs break down about like this: $100 for scoring and painting concrete, $1,000 for the hideaway, about $900 for the fire pit and pavers, about $200 for the addition of shutters and a garden box along the side of the house, and about $1,000 to build the pergola.
So if you’re counting, that’s about $3,000 — plus immeasurable elbow grease — for this dreamy backyard.