A peaceful corner on the patio
reading corner

This pandemic with all its restrictions and stay-home orders created a need for me to build an “Escape Oasis”. I found myself desperately looking to create a space that made me feel better, protected, at peace.

The Covid-19 breakout closed restaurants, movies, schools, offices, and life suddenly stood still for me. Until then, I’d been distracted with all the busy, crazy activities of daily life, so when everything stopped, all I felt was restless and uneasy. So, I fixed it.

I like to read, knit, and write these blog posts in my free time. Before Covid, I would sit in front of the TV watching mind-numbing sitcoms or news.

Mid-lockdown I realized I wanted a special space that made me happy. Something I could control. So I looked at my patio and started planning a seating area that would be appropriate for reading, entertaining, hanging out.

Four Steps to my Outdoor Oasis

A lot of people begin this conversation with “I don’t like my yard” or “I can’t enjoy my yard”. That’s too big an idea. Pick a corner, a flower bed, a patio area, or just one space that needs improvement.

Identify a Space.

If you’re anything like me, there are several spaces around your home awaiting a makeover. I am currently remodeling my pool, my pool deck, the back corner landscaping, and I’m getting ready to repaint my house. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to fix everything at once. Pick just one space. A big win or success here will inspire you to move on to the next area.

My one space is the east end of my porch. I had a VERY uncomfortable iron breakfast table here before. No one ever sat there to enjoy tea or read. It was old, hard, and uncomfortable. My vision starts with big comfy chairs that invite you to park your body and open a book or enjoy a coffee in the morning.

Create the Plan: A vision and a budget.

Creating the perfect space and backyard escape without a plan is expensive, frustrating, and labor-intensive. Oh, and did I say EXPENSIVE? I already have FOUR very expensive home improvement projects. I was willing to spend $250 on this project and I wanted to create a seating area for me and maybe a guest to read and or chat.

The shopping list.

The Shopping List

  • Chairs (two)
  • Table (to put a drink on)
  • Outdoor floor covering (optional)
  • Lighting
  • Plants
  • Music Source
  • Arts

Identifying your style is easy. Imagine your favorite flower, color, or food. Is it simple or complicated? Is it bright or rich in color? Is it timeless or cutting-edge? My favorite flower is an orchid. My favorite food is pizza. Both are simple, easily recognized, unintimidating. I want my spaces to feel exactly that way — uncomplicated, easy to recognize.

Give it purpose.

My area was about relaxing. Every room in my house has a purpose and none (including my bedroom) make me want to sit calmly and chat, read, or just think. I wanted a space where I could take a break and feel good about it. When I think of peace and tranquility I first imagined white pillows and white furniture and flowing drapes. But remember this outside — and after considering the location and those features I saw more laundry and a lot of extra cleaning. That wasn’t going to be the solution.

Make It Happen.

Garage Sales & Second Hand Furniture.

I found my two chairs with footstools at a garage sale in the upscale area of Central Florida. The two chairs were priced at $100.00 each, but the owner agreed to take $175.00. They were worth more than $100.00 each, but I was mindful of my total budget.

A mid-century wrought iron table at a garage sale was only $25.00. A can of orange spray paint for metal was only $3.95 on sale.

The FREE parts of the renovation.

The chair cushions were in great shape, but they showed age and were yellowed. I covered them with washable fabric I already owned. I’ll plan to replace them when I get more time and money.

Cleaning. The patio needed to be cleaned up. I removed a year’s worth of mud daubers, leaves, sand, and clutter. I bought a new broom ($8.00), but the cost of cleaning supplies was already covered. An outdoor porch needs intermittent cleaning and the elbow grease to clean it up was worth the two days of effort.

The taxidermy tarpon on the wall? He was free because I bought him with my house. He needs a refresh, but that’s another project. He’s part of my special style.

Shopping Online.

I bought a 4×6 outdoor rug online and had it shipped to the house. The “plastic straw” rug cost me $28.00 and was shipped free of charge. It subdivided the porch enough that I felt like that space was complete (the other end of the porch is still a work in progress) and it is washable and slip-resistant.

Total Project Cost: $240.00 ($10.00 leftover for that first coffee break!)

The entire project took me 17 days from start to finish. I’ve enjoyed an entire summer sitting in my corner of the porch enjoying thunderstorms, sunny days, sunsets, and rocket launches from Cape Canaveral that can be viewed over the fenceline. The total cost of my project was $240.00, but the peace and happiness it brought to the last few months is PRICELESS.

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