{outdoor style} Backyard Evolution Part 3 - A Colorful Patio Designed for Entertaining

After showing you all the before photos of our backyard and walking your through the patio construction process, I'm excited, today, to be giving you a more close up tour of the patio, complete with details about how we've made our relatively small yard work well for entertaining large groups. And you all know I love color, so I'm sure you won't be surprised to see that the as our patio has evolved, it's become a bit more colorful each year. 

Colorful patio designed for entertaining

If you want to catch up on parts 1 and 2 of our backyard story - you'll find them here:


Last week I left you with an overview shot of the backyard that was taken soon after the patio was completed.

Colorful patio designed for entertaining

I pointed out that the banquet tables along the fence line were there because we were setting up for a party the day I took this photo, and since we specifically had entertaining in mind when we designed the patio, I thought I should start out this week by talking about the patio layout.

Colorful patio designed for entertaining

Because our house was built with an indoor/outdoor fireplace between our kitchen and our backyard, one of our first desires when planning the patio was to allow room for seating around the fireplace. We found a great deal on a furniture set with a couch, two chairs, and a coffee table, which make a nice grouping around the fireplace, but which are arranged in such a way that we can easily  pull more chairs up around the couch for larger groups. 

The fireplace juts out a bit, leaving a perfect spot between the fireplace and the kitchen door for a large barbecue.

It's very convenient having the barbecue right next to the kitchen door, making it possible to grill even when we have a rainy summer like this one has been. When we are grilling for a larger group, the grill can be rolled forward just a bit, allowing us to extend the large fold-up shelf on the left side, which provides plenty of space for prepping enough burgers and brats for an entire backyard full of people.

During parties, we also roll our large stainless steel beverage cooler {like this one} out of the garage and tuck in into the nook on the other side of the fireplace.

When deciding on the backyard layout we knew we needed space for tables that we could fill with food during parities, and along the fence line seemed the natural choice. We considered hardscaping right up to the fence line, but since we were already removing a bit of grass to expand the patio, and since there are no trees in the backyard, we decided to instead fill the strip along the fence with ground cover. We fell in love with a teal fountain, which we placed right in the middle of the strip of ground cover.

Teal backyard fountain

The ground cover and the water add nice, natural elements to this side of the patio, and during parties, we are able to set up a banquet table on each side of the fountain.

Entertaining in the backyard

With this set up, we are able to host pretty large groups in the backyard without it feeling too crowded!

Patio entertaining

Of course, with all those people, and all that food, we needed to provide more seating than just the couch and chairs. The dining table that we bought for the space came with four chairs, but we really wanted to be able to seat at least 6 around the table, so the planter bench that we had built-in works perfectly. Not only does the bench comfortably seat two or three people on one side of the table, the planter behind the bench also provides us another place to bring some green into the backyard.

Planter bench

Last we I talked all about our struggle to find something to plant behind the bench that would grow straight and tall, but would still be comfortable against you back when sitting on the bench, and the Elegant Feather we plant each year has been the perfect solution. It reaches 6 feet or taller by the end of the summer, and it looks great against the white stucco wall of the garage. And the three large, colorful pots on each side of the bench add pops of color that further breakup the sea of stucco!

planter bench and blue pots

I also really wanted some kind of outdoor art on this stucco wall as well {especially for spring and early summer when the Elegant Feather is still much shorter}. I decided on three metal circle wall hangings from Pier 1 that I spray painted with charcoal gray outdoor paint and hung together to create one large work of art. To further break up the sea of white stucco on the garage, I also painted the garage man door charcoal gray.

Al fresco dining on backyard patio

The photos above show how the patio looked for the first couple years after its completion. I love the combination of the teal, blue and green tones.

But I began craving even more color {surprise, surprise}, so a couple years later I replaced the brown patio chairs for bright teal, and last year I swapped out the pillows on the couch and chairs for a more vibrant teal pattern.

Colorful patio

Colorful patio

We love to entertain on this patio, but it's also a very nice, quiet place to get a little work done in the afternoons when the yard becomes nice and shady. I love working to the sound of the water gurgling in the fountain.

Colorful patio

You can see, in the photo above, that last year the planter bunch was starting to look a little rough. Fortunately it was pretty easy to sand and refinish, and this year it is looking good as new!

Of course, the patio is not just all about the adults. Last year, we added a stylish table perfectly sized for the kids.

Kids table on patio

It didn't take long for Beckett to start entertaining on the patio as well. One day when I picked him up from preschool I overheard him ask a little girl to come over for dinner, so we invited over her whole family and oohed and aahed at how cute they were eating together at their little table. 

This patio has been such a great addition to our home - and it really feels and functions like another living room. We spend a lot of family time out there!

Although the boys enjoy playing on the patio, watering the flowers, blowing bubbles and playing at their water table, the remaining grassy area of the backyard just wasn't working for the kids.

It's hard to tell in photos, but the grass actually slopes off at a pretty steep angle... or, I should say, it used to. Not any more! We have yet to spend much time out in the yard so far this summer, first because it just wouldn't stop raining...

...and then because we hired landscapers to renovate the non-patio portion of the backyard. The fence came down a few weeks ago and they set to work building a retaining wall to level the grassy area to make it more kid friendly. With the fence down and the yard torn up, we haven't been able to use the yard as much as we would like, but the work is nearly complete, so we'll be back out there soon. And in a few weeks, I'll be able to show you some new photos!

UPDATED!! 2016 Backyard Tour:  Our backyard now feels even more like an outdoor living room. Come see all the updates!

Let's get social!   

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