My backyard! It is done! And I cannot wait to share the full reveal with you right here. 

I approached my backyard in a similar way to how I design my interiors- with strategic and practical solutions customized to my family's unique values and lifestyle. 

And I am so so thrilled with the results. And today I am letting you in on my design process so you too can tackle your renovation like a pro. Here are some really important questions to consider when planning an outdoor renovation. 




1. Determine your entertaining zones

Very similar to how I would plan any interior space, think about the "zones" or activities you want in your backyard. For example, do you want a place for lounging, eating, kids to do crafts, kids to play sports, space to prep meals, a pool, etc? Figure out your priorities and then divide your space accordingly. My backyard is really small (30' x 50') so I don't have a ton of room to utilize so we kept the layout fairly simple-  a 20' x 25' area for lounging, a 10' x 10' area for eating, and the remaining space for kids to play. 

We used black pavers to delineate the areas in a border with light grey pavers for contrast. If you have seen some of my other projects, you will observe I love a patterned floor- and the border gives just enough detail for me keeping in mind the minimal aesthetic I was going for. 



2. Determine your budget

When I meet with people for 2-hour interior design consultations and I ask what their budget is, I often get blank stares. But when I press them and ask if they have $50,000 for example to spend, it often reveals a concrete budget number.

Set an actual budget- because unlike interior design, I would say there is less variety in cost of materials in outdoor goods. Meaning, with a chair for example, you can search long and hard and find something you like that also might fit your desired budget. For outdoor materials, I would say you are simply more limited. So one must be even more strategic in spending their budget wisely. 

For my 30' x 50' backyard I was quoted as high as $100,000 dollars for my entire backyard and fence (eep!) and then as low as $15,000 for a very basic clean up. We landed around $30,000 in the end for complete excavation, new pressure treated lumber fence (cost saving option), black mulch, modern pavers (moderate option) and then all the fun decorative stuff (a mix of high and low- see full source guide at the end of this post).

Bottom line, whether your budget is $10k or $100k, actually set a budget because it will really determine the kinds of materials you can use and the professional services you can work with.  



3. Determine how high maintenance you want the space to be

I kill a lot of plants involuntarily- and my children are serious rough and tumble small people- so I knew that I wanted a basically maintenance free backyard. 

So we put in artificial grass, selected plants that will be really hearty and require little sun / water to survive, and really focused on using contrast of materials to define areas and create visual interest. 

So whether you love to garden or don't know your weeds from your flowers, pick materials that will serve your family best. If you want to mow your lawn in a really low maintenance way, check out this Automower by Husqvarna!



4. Create a colour scheme

The same way I always allow a pillow, drapery fabric, or piece of art work inform my colour palette in my interior work- do the same for the exterior. In my case, I wanted the space to read very minimal- so we kept all the materials very neutral and cooler in tone. And then with my accessories (all extremely affordable pieces from Walmart) we stayed with a palette of navy, teal and lime green, in keeping with some of the textiles and fun dish ware. The pop of colour against an otherwise neutral background is pop and youthful. Ensure you repeat a colour multiple times for the most cohesive look.



5. Consider integrating technology 

The final thing to consider to really look like a pro is technology. There are so many options for integrating sound into your backyard- but don't let sound be the only thing you consider. Consider bringing in wifi to make the space your outdoor office, a projector to turn any evening into a movie night, and where space allows a television integrated into a built in covered unit for real wow-factor. And regardless, make sure you run power back there so you can plug in an outdoor air cooler- cause how awesome is that for your guests!

I am so thrilled with the outcome of my backyard and so happy to share it with you! A massive word of thanks to the team at Heartscapes Landscaping who worked very hard (and were very accommodating to my picky interior design-y detail oriented requests) and to the brands who partnered with me by providing products that my family are thoroughly enjoying.



Source guide: 


Loveseat, arm chairs, coffee table, lanterns, decorative pillows, bar cart, blankets, towels, green planters, umbrella, carpet for picnic, outdoor cups, plates, platters- Walmart

Genesis gas grill- Weber

Outdoor air cooler- Honeywell

Custom outdoor table- One One Eleven Designs

Artificial grass- The Home Depot 

Black pergola- Lowe's

Photos by Larry Arnal.



If you liked these design tips and need some more, I invite you to download my Top 10 Interior Design Faux Pas- and how to avoid them.