If you ever come to my house and I don’t answer the front door, this is where you’ll find me:

Patio Complete 048


I never knew that an outdoor space could feel like another room in the house, but this area does. I think it’s the pergola that gives it a “room” feel, and even though there are no walls or privacy fences, I can still sit there and feel like I’m in my personal outdoor living room. I cannot even tell you all how much I love this space!!

A huge part of that loving comes because of how improved it is. If you’ve been following the Cottage blog for any period of time, you know we bought this house as a foreclosure, at a time when it needed a lot of work. The inside was our focus for the first couple of years, and finally last spring we started doing more outside projects. Our front porch was first, and then, on July 4th weekend a year ago, we started the back patio.

My husband is very careful to do things debt-free, and so we have not done some of the bigger projects around here until recently, after we were able to save up for them. So that makes the finished product even more exciting. When you wait for something, it becomes even more special! :)

This is what it looked like for the first 4 years we were here. Lovely in its time, but with many years of wear and tear the boards were rotting and falling in, and they gave many splinters to poor bare feet!

{Before, July 2014}

back porch before

deck - before


Soooo, the perks of having a husband who can do literally ANYTHING with wood are pretty awesome. He can envision something, and make it and built it. I can decorate it when it’s finished, but he’s been the vision behind most of what we’ve done here at the Cottage. He’s really great like that.

So, to give a little perspective of where this is (and there were some people who thought this is the front porch – no, it’s the back deck, off the back/side of the house :)) , this is the view from the front of the house.  The back deck is only slightly visible, so it gives a very private feel sitting back there.


cottage front view

First off: tear off the old deck, beginning on July 4th, 2014

tearing it down

The process of tear-out was quick and easy, and then the building took a bit longer because of working at it evenings and weekends for several weeks a month or two. The entire process from beginning to end, including staining the wood and all of that, wasn’t finished up until November. So! We don’t do everything super fast around here. ;)

The little man was so thrilled with his apprenticeship to construction.

little mancub daddys helper

And I even got out there with a drill – because my husband taught me to love that kind of thing too. :)

IMG_1083 IMG_1246

And things slowly started taking shape…

learning that work is fun

backporch living

The first dinner on the patio – enjoying it even before it was completely finished because we were just THAT excited about it.

first dinner on the new deck
Art time – outside! When they find me outside in the mornings, sometimes they’ll bring their own things outside and we’ll all be together for a while.

mornings on the porch art on the porch


Break time.

taking a break

And adding the final touches  – finishing the pillars, putting lights on the pergola, staining the wood, planting ferns and shrubs in planters…

I love lots of whites indoors, but out here, I wanted lush green and full of color. It feels like my happy place.

Patio Complete 032 patio pillars


{And after, July, 2015}

Unless it’s raining, this is where you’ll find me, every morning. I’ll even wipe off the raindrops from the table and chairs if I need to, so that I can use this lovely spot. My Bible, a hot cup of coffee, and quiet time outside = the best way to begin a day!

My view from the kitchen door. I mean. I cannot even resist going out there. My love of running is even being affected because I just want to BE HERE.

the patio room


morning quiet time

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French-pressed café al fresco, anyone?


cafe al fresco

And these little cuties that sleepily join me after a while… ♥♥  Sometimes it all feels like a beautiful happy dream, these moments of my life, with my precious children.

morning risers


Sometimes I can hardly believe this is the same location; same outdoor furniture, same potted plants, but a whole new design.

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Friends and visitors are welcome! :)


28 thoughts on “Outdoor Living {Before & After}

  1. Karyn

    I Think it is absolutely splendid and gorgeous and so calm and relaxed…and I could add a lot more adjectives! I am right with you on the morning-on-my-patio-with-my-coffee! I do it every morning I possibly can, even grabbing a towel for dew or raindrops. So yes, I am most delighted for you on this beautiful “addition” to your home!

  2. Jenny

    Oh yes, so lovely. You and your hubby do wonders. And the time with your children, such a blessed time! Enjoy.

  3. April W.

    Absolute perfection! I love picturing your sweet crew out their with you in the mornings :) The perfect way to start a day. Loved the picture of you looking super handy with a drill :)

  4. Breana

    And with such a haven I would have to live out of doors…it reminds me of why our sweet Lord put mankind in a garden in the first place!! *happy sigh*

  5. shanna

    i love your “happy place” I have a porch I feel the very same way about, just want more hours in my day to sit there:)!

  6. Claude

    Wow. I love thiiissss. I wish i could just come and sit and have my devo’s too. :(

  7. Kim

    What a wonderful outdoor room to enjoy!
    What a great example of saving up for projects first. This is the way to do things, indeed.
    Have you made a photo book of the cottage?

    1. Kim O'Rourke

      I too ha e a husband who is very handy,d I come up with the ideas and he builds them

  8. Wendy

    THANK YOU for sharing your home with us …. Have just recently “discovered ” skies of parchment and I LOVE IT ….. Well ….to be honest your lovely mum mentioned it to me when we were staying with her recently ! You are a natural at all you do ……I so enjoy reading your blog and feel inspired ….. unfortunately we in (all to often ) rainy N IRELAND can only dream about an outdoor room….

  9. Jessica

    So I need to know…
    #1 where did you get the rug?
    #2 what side of the house is this on?
    #3 does the pergola feel like it blocks light into the house?
    Mike wants to do this (kind of) but I am so worried it will block light I’m major part of our house.

  10. Ervina

    What an incredible transformation! I love the lights and the rug and the pergola is my faaaaaavorite! To think you took it off someone’s hands who didn’t even want it! The sleepy eyed kiddos and the hot coffee just scream “Come sit with us, Auntie Ervina!” Ok, enough exclamation points for one comment but seriously. love love love.

  11. Ilona Troyer

    I’m noticing the crepe myrtle on the one pic. Luv those! I’ve tried growing them here & they’ve always froze out. Beautifully done outdoor space!

  12. Huezdesign

    I was looking for pergola design online and yours came first to me.
    what a beautiful and inspiring transformation I am going to share yours on my Facebook page

  13. Jill

    So lovely! Your posts always inspire me to grab my camera and capture something pretty. Thanks for sharing beauty with us and giving us glimpses into your life. I know we don’t know each other but I would love to sit and sip coffee with you. I think we could be friends. =)

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  15. Odessa

    I simply love your beautifully inspired renovation..I noticed you all are selling it and,I am interested in getting the information if u could pls let me know.

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