We’re deep into summer entertaining season, which means the need for a chic outdoor space in which to host our get-togethers has never been more real. But what do you do if your aforementioned space is in serious need of a little TLC?
Kylee Trunck, senior staff designer at Havenly and renovator extraordinaire, put her skills to the test when undergoing a new makeover project: Her own Denver backyard.
“It was a fine backyard, but it definitely needed a little jazzing up,” says Trunck of her previous space. “It was basically just a slab of concrete, and we found that we weren’t spending a lot of time out there which was unfortunate because it’s a fantastic space.”
Trunck’s husband had installed a gorgeous pergola on the patio a year prior to the renovation with the goal of adding some visual interest to the area. Looking at the patio as an extension of her home, Trunck set out to create a space that flowed with her home’s aesthetic—think: a neutral color palette made interesting by a mishmash of textures—while still making a statement.
As a starting point, she looked to the decor of the kitchen, which opens up on to the patio. Her modern-looking kitchen relies heavily on blacks, grays, and light neutrals with fun textural elements that add some contrast, so Trunck wanted to be sure those motifs were translated to the outdoor area.
“I’m a huge fan of my wicker stools at the counter in the kitchen; I love them against the black countertop and the copper pendant lights,” says Trunck. “I like mixing and matching materials with metals and playing off of that contrast so I carried that onto the patio.”
By staying away from summery clichés like crazy colors and palm prints, Trunck created a space she describes as “resort-boho with a little modern thrown in” that will work year-round (they also added a fireplace for when the weather cools down).
“I love it feeling like vacation when I’m not on vacation,” says Trunck of the inspiration behind her new space. “We brought in those elements via the plants and curtains, and were sure to have somewhere to set our drinks because we are never on the patio without wine.”
To make the patio functional as well as stylish, Trunck brought in a pair of chic black tables (necessary for holding summer cocktails and other treats), a decorative pouf, and a patterned rug. According to Trunck, these small touches are the key to creating an outdoor space that translates to multiple seasons.
“Having a rug is really important: It makes it feel more comfortable, and as it gets colder you might want to take your shoes off so having a rug there helps you avoid the concrete,” suggests Trunck, who recommends a material like polypropylene for an indoor-outdoor rug that will withstand the weather. “And bring throws out! Obviously it’s not something that would be sitting there all weekend, but bringing them out to make it feel a little cozy and comfy is a good idea.”
Another big tip for those undergoing an outdoor renovation? Don’t forget lighting.
“It’s going to get darker as it gets colder, you’ll still be hanging out there, and you’ll still want to see everything,” says Trunck.
In this image: World Market Black Woven Bamboo Pendant Shade, $69.99; Home Depot Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug, $93.90; Target Metal Drum Accent Tables, $49 each; Target Premium Edgewood Wicker Patio Club Chair, $363.99; Restoration Hardware Perennials Belize Pillow Cover, $39; Pottery Barn Awning Stripe Throw, $59
She opted for two overhead lights—though she says bistro lights would work just as well—and they actually ended up being one of her favorite parts of the finished space. “They help make the patio feel like a room you might actually find inside someone’s house,” says Trunck. “They’re super practical and kind of a statement-maker—without them, it would feel bare, like something is missing. They pull everything together.”
Though Trunck was working with a decently-sized space, she says that small or awkwardly-shaped areas shouldn’t deter anyone from having some fun with their outdoor decor. To make the most of what you have, she suggests filling a smaller space with lots of plants, pillows, and accessories to liven it up.
That said, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re in over your head with a renovation project. “I think if you have a space that’s maybe awkwardly-shaped and you don’t know how pieces are going to fit together or if there’s anything kind of big that you’re building, I would definitely call in the big guns,” says Trunck.