Three Inspiration Boards overlapping each other

So Much Amazing Inspiration For

Our Backyard Makeover

THE backyard makeover: before pictures and mood boards full

of inspiration give you plenty of hints for what’s to come.

We’re so excited!

Before picture of the back of the house taken from a boat on the lake, showing a thick green lawn and the brick arches and a borad and batten east wing with two windows with awningss

Let’s Start at the Beginning — a Very Good Place to Start. Right?

This is the house (from a boat) on the day we started negotiating on it.

So much potential, right?

I hope you see it too. Lighten the paint. Add a few trees. Clean up the landscaping. Remove the awnings — it was soooo dark inside! And then a few other things as we would get to them.

Or so we thought at the time! Du du dummmm

This is Reality – Possession Day:

Before picture of the brick patio wrapped on two sides by a 2-story house with 5 large brick arches that shelter the 2nd story balcony

See on the corner below the brick edging. Yes, that’s the patio foundation. And it was crumbling.

And the stone foundation that supported it desperately needed some tuck-pointing.

The previous owner had a LOT of great natural stone she had collected from somewhere and built this bed all around the patio foundation. That bed needed to be reworked, especially because it was 100% day lilies. And not the newer re-blooming variety. These only bloomed once and the deer were counting down for that day of bloom. They patiently waited and then would have a feast that night. Not a bloom would survive to day 2!

The iron railing completely encompasses the patio, all along the lakeside, and even partway up the North side of the house. There were three gates . One of them right in this corner, the only place for the table and chairs. So a relocation and new steps are needed.

That railing! It’s the same railing on the balcony and even around the open stairwell inside the house.

It was grandfathered. That’s the only way it met code. But particularly the balcony made me wayyy to nervous. On our six-ft sons and their friends, it hit mid thigh! This would need to be rectified.

Before Picture of the back of the house five two-story brick arches supporting a balcony with iron railing wrapping the north and west sides of a brick patio below that has. the same short black iron. railing. This view shows the tool shed attached to the side of the house

The previous owner added this tool shed. So glad because we need that storage desperately (the garage is my studio). This is where our bikes, all our yard equipment and our lake toys reside.

It’s positioned perfectly. A few short steps from the patio. But such treacherous steps. Look carefully. That’s right ,an awkward step down, followed by even more awkward steps up.

That’s more awkward stepping than your first 7th grade dance! And all while carrying a bike or a large cooler or the barrel full of pool noodles.

closeup of the bottom of the tool shed doors and the stacks of narrow rocks that are meant to be steps into the shed

Check out those “steps”! They are just dry stacked and the ones closest to the door are only 4″ front to back and about 3-inches below the shed floor.

Side view of the brick patio encompassed with iron railing -- the centerpiece of our backyard makeover

The Side Yard

Side of new garage under construction with a rock wall planting bed and a steep hill

Technically, we are no longer in the backyard, but we need to do something about this slope to aid getting to the backyard.

That new construction, where we are going from open carport to enclosed climate-controlled garage, is the South House Designs studio.

I like the stacked stone wall the previous owner built. The issue is that the hill is pretty steep right there. To make access easier, steps would be a huge help.

When you are planning your next backyard makeover, large or small, you may want to refer back to this.

Please Pin this reminder to your:

Backyard Board, or your

Patio Board, or your

Let’s Make the Neighbors Jealous Board!

Wherever you’ll be able to find it when you need it.

Pinterest Pin showing three mood boards overlapping each other, the title reads: Backyard Makeover so Huge It Needed 3 Mood Boards

Backyard Makeover Quick Recap:

– the Have-to’s:

  • Repair the patio foundation
  • Rebuild and relocate the East steps
  • Fix the elevation issues from patio into shed
  • Address the railing that is too short
  • Add some steps into the steepest run of the hillside
  • Paint the house! (it’s not a safety issue, but definitely a mental health issue
  • Take down the awnings over all the East and North facing windows (ditto, above)

– the Want-to’s

  • Expand the patio for a sitting area and the fire pit
  • Add trees for some shade
  • Get power out to the corner of the patio
  • Give the new railing some weight, relating to the weight of the the columns
  • Landscaping!
  • Landscape. Lighting
  • Cafe String Lights

Situation Assessed, Now for the Mood Boards

Patio Inspiration:

Inspiration Board showing the broad  inspirations of house color with stripe awnings, uplit trees at night, cafe string lights over a red brick patio and DG patio and walkways with stone edging

Here is the basic concept starting with the red brick of our patio and the house color, patience and an image of one of the Mediterranean style houses that inspired the color.

We want trees with uplighting and the cafe string lights are essential for the vibe we are going for.

Also the patio extension we planned is a gravel patio, or more accurately a DG (Decomposed Granite) patio edged in stone.

Mood Board showing pictures of chunky stone steps, DG with stone edging, iron railing between stone pillars and a wispy garden bed lavender spilling over the patio edge

Dialing in on more details, we love the big thick chunky stone steps. Those should handle tthe hillside as well as the transition into the shed!

This is the idea for the patio railing. We’ll install railing panels between brick pillars that mimic the large brick columns and arches.

I am crazy about the gravel patios of European parks and courtyards. They aren’t really gravel, depending on location, they may be crushed shale. Here in the Midwest, the best to use is Decomposed Granite (DG), sometimes called Pulverized Granite (PG). There will be a lot to come on this shortly!

And for landscaping, I envision lavender, baby’s breath and other perennials spilling over the edging bringing a soft, casual attitude.

A mood board collage showing some of the inspiration decor elements including the DG and stone, two chaise lounges with a small table, large rustic urn, an iron fire pit, a black and white stripe awning, black and white pillows and flowers

And here’s one more board where we dug a bit deeper into the furnishing and accents.

Large urns, a fire pit, DG, bordered with a natural stone. Of course cafe lights. And the shed will become a tool cabana complete with stripe awning and black doors.

Patio Restyling is Also Part of this Package-

One of the first things I did was hang sheer curtains at each side of the balcony. I came up with a foolproof way of hanging them, withOUT expensive, expansive rods with the bonus that they stay put even in the wind! Check them out here.

And I have restyled the corner right behind that brick screen next to the shed. You won’t believe that little piece of patio makeover, including the light fixture.

Here is how I transformed a pair of huge pots for the patio.

I can’t wait to show you how our backyard makeover has evolved!

With snippets of Spring showing up, it really has me in the mood for all things outdoor. How about you?

Oh good! it’s always fun to have company with shared plans, goals, and endeavors.

I will be sharing how we have been working to make all of this happen. We have learned so much through this process . And I am happy to share all the first attempts also. So that your first attempt will be all that is necessary.

UPDATE: This Backyard Makeover has grown into a Super Series-

Fire away with any questions you may have.

Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane


  1. Doug Sudhoff

    The work has really paid off. Your vision was right on target! Plus, I added some new words to my vocabulary (my mom wouldn’t have approved) as we learned the ins and outs of these projects!

    • Diane

      We sure did! You’re the best learning partner.
      It’s hard to believe we have crossed everything off that list with two exceptions that we have to wait for the pros on.

  2. Renae

    Wow! This will be a great transformation. I can’t wait to see the reveal.

  3. Lynn

    I can’t wait to see the finished product! So much potential

  4. Joanne

    What a beautiful home to begin with; I bet your improvements will be fantastic.

    • Diane

      Thanks for your faith Joanne! I will confess we are LOVING it!

  5. Marie

    Glad you saw the potential in this house. Your plans all sound amazing. Keep up the good work!

  6. Orlando Railings

    Wow, what an incredible backyard makeover! The transformation is truly impressive, and the attention to detail in the design and landscaping is evident. From the cozy seating area to the beautiful plant selections, this article is a great source of inspiration for anyone looking to transform their own outdoor space. Well done!



  1. How to Make a Small Tool Shed Stylish - South House Designs - […] means, if you have not already see the “Inspiration Post”, be sure to hop over and take a look…
  2. How To Add New Brick Fence and Makeover a Railing - South House Designs - […] To really appreciate how far we have come and what influenced our decisions, you should really check out the…
  3. Crushed Granite vs. Pea Gravel Patio: Which to Love? - South House Designs - […] The Prequel: Our Problem areas and three mood boards that helped to guide our decisions […]
  4. How To Build Natural Stone Retaining Wall Steps - South House Designs - […] The Prequel: Our Problem areas and three mood boards that helped to guide our decisions […]
  5. How To Install a Beautiful Decomposed Granite Patio - South House Designs - […] The Prequel: Our Problem areas and three mood boards that helped to guide our decisions […]
  6. Use Flagstone Steps to Make a Hill Safe and Beautiful - South House Designs - […] The Prequel: Our Problem areas and three mood boards that helped to guide our decisions […]
  7. How to Hang Outdoor Edison Bulbs For an Inviting Glow - South House Designs - […] The Prequel: Our Problem areas and three mood boards that helped to guide our decisions […]
  8. Casual Dining Room Makeover Plans and Your Advice Please - South House Designs - […] and bringing the house to a bit more modern Mediterranean style. You can read all about the lakeside makeover…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diane Sudhoff
key with a tags that reads "Subscribers" Next to the words "Free Printables Library"
close-up of hand holding a cell phone mock-up of an order page on top of a collage of products
Sidebar title box reading "Most Popular Outdoor Posts"

Click Image to

Jump to  Post

View of uplit trees around a patio overlooking a lake at dusk  sidebar graphic
overhead view of a DG patio sidebar graphic
View of outdoor sheer curtains snagged back on a balcony sidebar graphic
Split moss wreath hanging on french doors sidebar graphic
closeup of cup and saucer flower arrangements at each pacesetting sidebar graphic
Closeup of embroidered straw bag sidebar graphic
Copyright © 2024 South House Designs