Spring ’24 One Room Challenge – Outdoor Oasis – Before Photos, Inspiration, and the Plan!


Spring 2024 ORC – Creating an Outdoor Oasis

First, let me start by saying, FOMO is REAL!! I have gone back and forth in my head for the last 4 months at least, trying to decide whether or not to join the One Room Challenge again this spring. You see, just this past November, I completed my French Bistro Inspired Kitchen for the Fall 2023 ORC. And before tackling the kitchen, I had participated in the Spring ’23 ORC, where I transformed our (somewhat boring) formal living room into a cozy, feminine, Whimsical Parlor, and in 2022 – the first fall after I started this blog and we moved into our house – I took on two rooms. I found huge inspiration from a French Restaurant in creating my Modern and Elegant Dining Room, and used a fabulous wallpaper as my jumping off point for the Boldly Patterned Butler’s Pantry.

It’s been a LOT of work trying to juggle completing spaces in my own home, while documenting it on my blog and social media, and also while working on client projects, plus being a mom to three kids, etc., etc. But here’s the thing, it’s been so worth it! The One Room Challenge is not just some little online event that happens twice a year. It’s a community of like-minded and amazingly talented designers, design enthusiasts, and DIY’ers, who support and inspire each other throughout the eight week timeline, to complete creative and beautiful spaces, which also happens to attract fantastic sponsors, and has Apartment Therapy as it’s official media sponsor – pretty great, huh?!?

So why wouldn’t I participate again this spring? Well, for one, I’ve been very busy with client projects for Blue Leopard Interiors, and secondly, my middle daughter is graduating from high school in June, so I’ve been trying not to overload myself with work so that I can savor every last minute with her before she goes to college!  I was originally planning to remodel our primary bathroom and bedroom this spring, which are the only two spaces upstairs that haven’t been touched since we bought the house, but that would have been a huge amount of work, money, and upheaval, especially after just completing the kitchen a few months ago. But as I started thinking about a graduation party for our daughter, I realized that our outdoor spaces were a bit lacking, and that they would definitely need some love before hosting lots of family and friends the first weekend in June. And then the light bulb moment happened – I could use the Spring One Room Challenge as a catalyst to make our outdoor spaces a much better reflection of our personal style. My plan is to transform our backyard, (mainly the deck and lower grill area), and POSSIBLY our front door and the paved area next to it.

So here I am, about to embark on another eight weeks of blood, sweat, and maybe even some tears to create our personal outdoor oasis! But first, let’s take a look at where we are starting:


The Deck – Before Photos

Our back deck, BEFORE, looking towards the family room French doors. with the sectional seating area, and the table and chairs that we use most often when we sit outside for meals.


Back Deck BEFORE looking toward Butler’s Pantry French Doors, and the elevated seating area.


The elevated seating area BEFORE, where most of the remaining deck furniture has been covered and stored for the winter. This includes a chaise lounge, a bar cart, an umbrella table, a large ottoman, and three swivel rocker club chairs.


A pulled back view BEFORE, of the most of the deck area, taken from the stairs leading to the deck from the backyard.


This photo was in the original sales listing for our house, and shows the back deck with all of the cushions in place, and a few more plants since it was taken in summertime.

So that’s the deck – the main area we as a family use – and hope to use even more when this is finished. The previous owners had built the deck, and when we bought this house, they offered us the outdoor furniture for a reasonable price. Since we had sold all of our outdoor furniture to the family who bought our old house, and were moving in mid-July, it made sense to purchase the furniture. It’s definitely not what I would have chosen, but it’s very well-made (its the Hanamint Grand Tuscany collection), and it would have cost a lot to refurnish not only the whole deck, but also the lower barbecue and fire-pit area. I think my biggest problem with the outdoor furniture, especially on the deck, is that the “Tuscan” style doesn’t relate at all to the style of the house. My hope is to make it all a bit more cohesive by swapping out some of the cushions, and adding lots of fun new accessories, lighting and potted plants and flowers.


The Grill and Firepit Area – Before Photos

This is the barbecue area, looking towards the firepit, BEFORE


Looking from the fire pit towards the table and chairs near the grill, BEFORE

As you can see, we have the matching Grand Tuscany dining table and six chairs in the paved area next to the grill, just below the deck. All of these chairs, as well as the deck barstools, sectional, chaise lounge, and swivel chairs, have cushions that we bought with the furniture. And while the cushions are all in good shaped and had been well-looked after by the previous owners, they are a total mishmash of colors and textures. We have some red cushions, some aqua and tan striped, and some brown -not a great palette!  But if you haven’t shopped for outdoor cushions lately, they are crazy expensive to replace! We’re talking about $1000 for the sectional cushions, $250 for a chaise lounge, $300 per swivel chair, $80 (times 11) for the dining chair seat pads, and another $150 for the ottoman! That’s over 3k just to replace the cushions – and that doesn’t include new umbrellas (we’ll need three: one for each dining table, and one on for the umbrella table on the elevated seating area), new lighting, an outdoor rug or two, some pretty potted plants and several fun scatter cushions in outdoor performance fabric – YIKES! Who knew creating a pretty outdoor oasis could add up so quickly. And now let’s take a look at some of my ideas for the space…


The Outdoor Oasis Inspiration


When I stumbled on this photo of the terrace at Annabel’s London, a private club designed by Martin Brudnizki.I knew I had found my inspiration for the deck and lower patio! The mix of patterns on the cushions and pillows, plus all that lush greenery is so visually exciting to my maximalist-leaning senses!


Another corner of the Annabel’s terrace – can’t you just imagine spending a summer afternoon here, sipping on Aperol spritzes? I might never want to leave!



I love the contrast between the whimsical parasol from Oriental Umbrellas and this very classical garden, and I definitely plan to upgrade our umbrellas to something a little more exciting!


Although the rooftop bar Charmaine’s, at the Proper Hotel in San Francisco is much more clean-lined and minimalist than the look I’m going for, I have always been, and always will be a huge fan of black and white awning stripes, and love the way designer Kelly Wearstler took a classic pattern and made it look so fresh and modern! I will definitely be incorporating some black and white into the mix with all of the other color and pattern I plan to add, so keep an eye out for that motif in my design scheme!


My oldest daughter and I enjoying the amazing cocktails at Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar in San Francisco last February!


So you can see from my inspiration photos above, my plan is to add more color, texture, whimsy, and interest so that our backyard becomes a destination – a place where we want to go to eat, entertain, and relax – oh – and not be bitten by mosquitos!!


The Outdoor Oasis Plan

The timing of the Spring ORC works perfectly for me to get our entire backyard looking great in time for not only our daughter’s graduation party, but for the summer. The final reveal week is May 22-26, so hopefully I’ll have everything finished by then! This includes not only the deck and grill/fire pit area, but as I mentioned above, IF I have the time (and energy), I would also love to give some love to our front yard and front door, but that remains to be seen.

Here is the to-do list:

  • Power Wash Deck, Pavers, and Outdoor Furniture (or pay my kids to do it!)
  • Re-cover Outdoor Furniture Cushions in Outdoor Performance Fabric
  • Play around with Deck Furniture Arrangement
  • Replace Outdoor Light Fixtures
  • Install Café String Lights & add more Decorative Lighting
  • Add Potted Plants & Flowers
  • Find creative solution(s) to repel mosquitos!
  • Replace Outdoor Umbrellas and add Outdoor Rugs, Pillows, and Decorative Accessories


And IF I have time:

  • Paint/Re-stain Front Door
  • Make or Buy new Spring Wreaths for Front Door
  • Replace Faux Topiaries with Live Plants
  • Install Water Feature in Paved Area next to Front Door
  • Add Potted Plants to Paved Area next to Front Door


With a bit of creativity and imagination, (and the help of my fabulous upholsterer to recover my outdoor cushions), I think I can make the most of the deck and grill area. If it looks like I’ll have time to add in the front of the house, I’ll add before photos of that area to a future post.

So, follow along as I transform yet another space in my home! I’ll be posting here and on my Instagram feed weekly, along with all of the other Spring ’24 One Room Challenge Participants. Check out Week One right here to see what my fellow participants are planning!

Cheers to Fab Interiors!



Here is my ORC progress

Week 1  ||  Week 2  ||  Week 3  ||  Week 4  ||  Week 5  ||  Week 6 ||  Week 7  ||  Week 8