my patio: before + after.
by victoria comment


outdoor patio with hanging plants and herb garden / sfgirlbybay

okay, guys — today is finally the big reveal on my outdoor patio makeover. i’ve been so excited to get this project completed and share it with you, and start having some backyard shindigs! when i first saw this yard i knew right away what i wanted to do — and that was cover up the gray cinderblock walls that you could see right outside the kitchen window. my thought was to create an outdoor dining space for entertaining and lounging and to make this backyard into the beautiful outdoor space i knew it had the potential to be. there’s a long list to do around the house, but i made the backyard my main budget priority since we spend so much time outside in L.A. it’s still a work in progress but one i really enjoy taking on, so with the help of my talented carpenter colin hughes, the two of us designed a space that would serve a multitude of purposes: to not only cover the cinderblock but serve as an outdoor dining area with built-in benches; a pergola up top for shade; and above the pergola a sunny deck surrounded with built-in planters. the idea is that we’ll plant wild grapes and passion flower vines to grow up and over the pergola and create a cozy, lush space for dining al fresco.

before and after modern backyard makeover / sfgirlbybay

outdoor patio with pergola over granite dining table / sfgirlbybay

so i sketched my ideas up, and colin made it happen. colin measured (and remeasured) and we ordered western red cedar wood from bohnoff lumber yard and he went to work. we chose cedar because it’s a highly durable wood and naturally resistant to rot, decay and insect attacks, which means anything you build with it will last longer and require less maintenance. and aesthetically, there really is no substitute for the natural beauty of real cedar — and it also smells pretty heavenly! plus, real cedar is sourced from the most sustainably managed forests in the world.

western red cedar wood pergola with string lights and potted plants / sfgirlbybay

my modern outdoor dining space / sfgirlbybay

potted succulants on granite outdoor dining table / sfgirlbybay

next up, a dining table and chairs. i went with williams sonoma home’s la coupole indoor/outdoor black granite top table — it’s durable and beautiful. plus i had this whole black + wood look in my head and it was exactly what i’d envisioned. it looks gorgeous out here. i then added CDI’s vintage-inspired industrial striped raw metal chairs for a sophisticated but funky look. together they make one fine outdoor dining space. oh, and i hung some great black globe lights for a little extra ambiance.

wood built-in seating with black water-resistant uplostery / sfgirlbybay

wood and black outdoor patio / sfgirlbybay

i then hired my favorite upholsterer here in L.A., Fernando Cerda of Cerda’s Upholstery to create custom cushions and pillows. Fernando had done such a lovely job on my vintage day bed, i knew he would take as much care with my outdoor seating. he used black sunbrella fabric which can actually be hosed down, and withstand El Niño, if she shows up. he used very durable foam for the inserts (these covers zip off, too) and for the throw pillows we used down filling for extra coziness. he also updated my vintage homecrest chairs with comfy cushions and is making new lounge chair cushions for the Christopher Knight lounge chairs i found on overstock, also in sunbrella.

my outdoor patio highlights / sfgirlbybay

upper deck over pergola with modern lounge chair / sfgirlbybay

western red cedar wood patio fence / sfgirlbybay

stone patio area with hammock and modern chair / sfgirlbybay

so that’s where we’re at. next up, some landscaping is needed big time! the planter boxes above need filling and the hillside needs new life! i’ve been working with rolling greens nursery who gave me some great ideas for a drought-tolerant hillside with plants like succulents, cacti, rosemary and a few trees — i’m hoping to plant some nice fruit trees like figs and oranges, and maybe a few olive trees for a Mediterranean vibe. i’d also love a couple of raised vegetable beds! time to get out the gardening gloves, shovels, and my green jeans and get to work — good thing i happen to really love gardening!

modern outdoor patio and dining space / sfgirlbybay

sources: williams sonoma home la coupole indoor/outdoor black granite top table; CDI vintage inspired industrial striped raw metal chairs; black globe lights; rolling metal cart and homecrest chairs – vintage find at flea market; black custom cushions by Cerda’s Upholstery; Christopher Knight lounge chairs from overstock; black globe lights from amazon.

potted succulants / sfgirlbybay

los angeles outdoor dining space / sfgirlbybay

• photography by lily glass for sfgirlbybay.

38 responses to “my patio: before + after.”

  1. It looks Amazing Victoria! Love the combination of the wood and black, it looks very relaxing.
    So happy for you, seems like you are really loving life in L.A.

  2. This is gorgeous! I love that you designed it with sustainability and longevity in mind, but also it just looks really, really good. And the little clay pots on the dining table… well I may need to steal them.

  3. I love it! However I’m not quite understanding the rows of planks laid out on the ground in the 6th-ish to las picture. Are those empty planter boxes?

    Looks amazing though!

    • yes, those are the empty planter boxes awaiting a lush green garden! and then beyond those, maybe what you’re asking about are the rows of planks – that’s the top of the pergola, with the dining area down below. :)

  4. This is exactly what I’ve been picturing in my head for my bit of patio outside my new studio to be… I’ve been calling it my little ibizan bit and have been harking on for months to the hubbie about it. Now I can just show him… and he will run to pick up his tools and race outside and build it for me (give or take a few more months and then some ha ha)
    Thank you. xxx

  5. it is absolutely beautiful, victoria! i bet it looks magical at nite!! i am so jealous!! this is what i miss the most after we lost our house, being able to decorate the yard… i know you will enjoy this for lots of years to come! :)

  6. Wow! I’ll be right over with a chilled bottle.

    Clearly you are missing the fog. Love the wood and black combination and the great use of space. You can feel the late night coziness of it.

    How many strands of lights did you hang?

    Fantastic. ;)

    • thanks, M.C.! come on over. ;)

      the lights are only 11 watts each so i hung 4 strands of 24 bulbs. but i’m going to hang 2 more up on the top deck and along the fence. i’m also putting them on a dimmer switch for extra coziness!

  7. Loving the red cedar and your design. What a great outdoor space. Just one question- does the red cedar need to be painted/stained to keep it from becoming that horrid gray of salt-treated wooden fences and structures?

  8. That looks awesome. I really love the shadow of the pergola on the cedar planks. I wish the weather in Daly City was better but alas no such luck. One word of caution, I wouldn’t bury the ends of your pergola in the planter. Cedar is pretty indestructible but it will rot if it is in contact with moist dirt.

    • thanks, john! will check that out. anything you suggest treating the ends with? they are just touching the top of the planter and the boxes are cedar, too.

  9. How great! My only concern is the stress on your fascia that that pergola joists are nailed onto. That’s a pretty heavy load/stress. I would keep an eye on it for cracking or sagging over the next year.

  10. Wow!! What an idyllic space to spend all spring and summer! Not only is it a beautiful space, it also looks so comfortable and welcoming. How fortunate that you have big trees shading overhead as well!
    This is so random but I think one of my favorite parts is the un-evenness to the fence posts behind the lounge chair and the hammock – going up and down the hill like that at a not-so-straight slope they look like they’re dancing :)

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