Creating an Outdoor Room in your Backyard
A few weeks ago, I went over to my brother’s house for a movie night in his backyard. I shared a few snaps on Instagram and was bombarded with questions about his outdoor space. So many followers asked if there was a blog post about his backyard and I realized that I better create one to share it all!
My brother, Harry, lives about 20 minutes from us on the other side of the city of Chicago. He and his wife have two young kids (and a puppy!) and ever since things locked down around here, they’ve been spending more time outdoors than ever. Harry decided to invest a bit in his backyard to make it a space where the entire family could hang out. He wanted to create an outdoor room so they could spend time in the yard, well into the fall, even as the temps cool down.
Here are some things he added to his yard this summer to inspire your own outdoor room!
Last summer, Harry built these amazing planters for their garage area. Not only is it a great space to grow herbs, fruits, and veggies, but it’s also a smart way to jazz up the plain garage siding. It’s really such a functional way to use the vertical space.
Harry actually saw something similar on Etsy, but it was only sold in Australia, so he decided to figure out how to build it himself. He used 1/2″ natural gas pipes with different types of fittings. He hooked it all together, primed the pieces, spray painted them, and added these planter pots. He also included these angle brackets so the planters wouldn’t fall through with the heavy weight of the soil.
This summer, Harry even added this irrigation kit so he wouldn’t have to worry about watering. As you’ll soon understand from this post, my brother has one of those brains where he dreams up big plans and then figures out how to make those dreams come to life. He was the kid who was always taking apart computers and putting them back together again. He is the go-to guy for all things tech in our family (remember this post about how to setup video conferences during quarantine?) and we’re lucky to have him!
Made in the Shade
Ready for the next crazy thing my brother added to this outdoor room? Over the summer, he was finding that the kids were chasing the shade on hot days and their backyard just didn’t have enough of it. He designed this solution with a large sail that he could raise and lower depending on the day, to create more shade back there.
They don’t have it up all the time, but on hot days when they’re craving shade, he can easily use his pulley system to get the sail up. It’s pretty genius.
I’m sure if you have specific questions, Harry will answer them in the comments below!
Heat It Up
I think it’s safe to say that patio heaters are going to be the new hot buy of the fall. Everyone is trying to extend their time outdoors and as the temps cool down, heating up the outside just makes sense! Harry added this electric heater on his deck railing to heat up the couch area when they’re watching TV out here at night.
He also has this natural gas patio heater down there too. Both are awesome options to make your outdoor room cozy as we head deeper into the fall and winter seasons.
I’m kinda jealous about this next upgrade…an outdoor TV! As I mentioned, he is our family’s tech guru and he recommends the new Samsung Outdoor TVs along with this weatherproof soundbar. We recently had a Moana movie night out here with the kids and they also watch all of the Notre Dame and White Sox games out here. Harry does cover the TV if bad weather is coming, but for the most part, it is safe for it to be outside in the elements.
The family likes to sit on the couch area down below in the grass and they’re planning to get a dining table for the upper portion of the deck.
Easy to Maintain Turf
The kids had a baby pool back here all summer long and it made a huge brown stain on the natural grass. They then decided it was time to upgrade to turf. Not only is it easier to maintain, but it also saves water. (Fun fact: they even have solar panels on their roof. Their house is that green!)
If you’re local to Chicago, they used the company Rugzoom and had a wonderful experience. It’s really nice because the kids and puppy don’t track mud and dirt into the house anymore. And anyone can lay on the grass and not get filthy. Finn is really interested in adding turf to our yard next year when we redo the space. (The man spends like two hours every weekend cutting and maintaining it!)
Finally, my favorite part about their outdoor room…all of the gorgeous lights! Lighting makes any room that much better, even an outdoor one! He has these string lights on the tree out there, these uplights behind the planters, and these solar-powered lights for the fence.
Harry also followed this tutorial to make his own LED strip lights around the deck. He and my sister-in-law, Jackie, turn these on at night when they’re hanging in the backyard while the kids are asleep. My brother made it so the color changes to red if one of the kids leaves their room, so they know they need to check on them. (I can’t even explain how he does this stuff. It’s mind-blowing, the smart home features you can incorporate!)
To me, this space is really the most magical at night time. It’s just so dreamy back here and I love having family time hanging in this backyard
I hope a look into my brother’s backyard gave you some inspiration for your own outdoor room! Now, more than ever, it’s wise to invest in our homes so we can safely see family and friends. A big thanks to Harry (and the fam!) for letting me showcase their cool backyard. I know I will certainly enjoy it in the coming months!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.