A once-empty backyard becomes an ideal outdoor living space with the addition of a porch and patio that have all the amenities for gardening, entertaining, and relaxing. Let these ideas inspire your outdoor living projects.


The backyard of this Tudor-style home was not conducive to outdoor living. The homeowners lived with the unappealing space for a year. But the list of reasons to renovate the backyard began to grow: the wife's green thumb, a desire for entertaining space, and a play space for the homeowners' growing son.

To connect the indoor and outdoor living spaces, the homeowners replaced a bank of windows with French doors, which open to the family room. They then added a covered porch. Bluestone pavers flow from this sitting area to a large patio designed for intimate or expansive gatherings. The patio also works as a play space and connects to a grassy lawn.

Indoor living elements bring comfort to the outdoor porch. Sink-right-in furniture, complete with pretty cushions and pillows, extends a family room feel into the backyard. Decorative accents and plenty of table space for resting drinks and plates make backyard living easy. Ceiling fans stir a breeze on stuffy days. Floor lamps and recessed lighting illuminate the relaxing space when the sun goes down.

The porch roof extends over the driveway to create a carport. That roof extension is supported by coordinating columns and an outdoor equipment closet encased in brick to blend with the rest of the house. The practical addition creates a pretty transition from the driveway to the outdoor entertaining areas.

An old garage at the back of the yard was a point of contention during the remodeling process. The homeowners debated tearing down the wobbly structure. Instead, shored up and outfitted with swing-out doors on the driveway side and a new pair of sliding doors that open to the patio, the structure proved to be the biggest surprise of the project. Sporting the look of a classic carriage house, the revamped garage acts as a much-needed entertaining hub. The homeowners have dubbed it "the pavilion." It's the final element in an outdoor renovation that makes this backyard a favorite gathering spot.

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