Bringing a patio to life

By Cathy Lee Posted in: Celebrate StyleImprove
July 19, 2015

It’s not always “out with the old and in with the new.” When it comes to updating your space, sometimes all it takes is a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of creativity.

Take my client’s patio. I was firstly tasked with furnishing their home for the family’s use when they’re in town and secondarily as a vacation rental. So, I needed to make it as appealing for island visitors as well as comfortable for the family. Of course, I had to do this on a budget.



The outdoor teak furniture definitely had seen better days. Instead of tossing the set, we decided to lightly sand it and apply teak oil. Voila! It looked almost as good as new, especially with brand new cushions. This is something you easily could do on a weekend with your own older pieces.

The other part of the task was much more challenging. As you can see, there was a large stucco wall. What you can’t really see is the 10-foot by 4-foot patch job in the center that wasn’t the best. On a huge blank wall, you couldn’t help but focus on this flaw. There also were conduits running up the wall.

I had two options: I could try to completely cover up the flaws, or I could camouflage them. The patch job was too big to completely cover up. And since this part of the lanai also is a walkway, I didn’t want to add any furniture that would impede traffic flow.



So what could I do that was decorative, functional and wouldn’t take up much space? I found a canvas print that I mounted onto a larger plaque to camouflage a good chunk of the patch job. Then, I added a narrow counter for functionality. And finally, to disguise the conduits, I added a plant that brings the outdoors in.

These solutions didn’t completely cover up the problems. But they provided something interesting to look at, disguised most of the flaws and enhanced the sense of nature, balancing with the outdoor setting.

Now look at your design challenges. Can a little work bring them back to life? Or would a creative fix solve your design dilemma?

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker president and designer of Cathy Lee Style Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects visit And keep up with Cathy’s dream home makeover at her photo blog, Homefront.

Photos: Dave Toones