casa keinsley: the back porch

I am sooooo excited to share the photos of our back porch makeover! As it completely storms outside...I was hoping to type this post while enjoying said porch, but no luck this afternoon. Oh well! One of the hardest parts of moving out of my parents' house when I got married was losing the incredible outdoor spaces that their lake house boasts...I mean, not much compares to the wraparound porch and gorgeous lake views. Makes working from home pretty sweet! I LOVE to be outside and grew up spending every weekend outside from morning until night. I love doing yard work, outdoor projects, having friends over to barbecue, the whole nine yards. It was definitely an adjustment to apartment life and having to let all of that go...or so I thought.

I moved into the apartment after our wedding last July and then with our long and glorious honeymoon, we really didn't start to LIVE here until August. We were too busy making the inside look how we wanted (see here and here for more details!) and didn't give the back porch a second thought. Fast forward to last month, as spring is showing its pretty face after a brutal winter, and all I wanted was to spend every day basking in the glorious outdoors. So we kicked it into high gear and decided to tackle our back patio. This concrete slab is off our bedroom and faces the "lake" (retention pond that they charge us $10 a month for since we have a "view", le sigh.) As you can see from the before photos, it wasn't all that pretty, what with the building meters on one side and the air conditioners on the other...

BUT! Pinterest and design blogs to the rescue! The most important thing to me out there was lots of seating. I want to be able to have friends over and play games, grill, etc. out there. I also didn't want to spend a lot, and since there is limited room, buying patio furniture was off the table. I saw this awesome cinderblock patio couch on Pinterest and immediately knew it would be PERFET for our space. Gradually the other ideas began to take shape around the couch idea. I had those black wooden shutters stored at my parents...I got them for free several years ago and they've served a few purposes over the years...a room divider in college, the seating arrangement at our wedding. We knew we wanted the couch against that side of the patio and needed something to put behind it, plus we wanted to kind of all in our area a bit. Some L-brackets and those shutters and boom!

The space is a mix of stuff we got for free from our family, things we already owned that we re-purposed for this area, and things we purchased. I do a breakdown at the end of this post.

I wanted the porch to be comfy, cozy and inviting. Lots of plants and comfy seating, a place to eat dinner together or work during the day. It's my favorite place to eat breakfast and do my prayer time in the morning, and I love catching up on my afternoon emails out here, too.

Our storage closet out here is maxed out, so I knew I wanted to build some storage in if we could. The area under the couch houses our gardening supplies, grilling supplies and a bin of various outdoor stuff like soccer balls, football, and a frisbee.

We were hoping if we enclosed the porch with giant planters and/or furniture, we could let Scout out here with us and he'd be contained. Well, we are silly naive pet owners and Scout has a mind of his own, because the first time we let him out here, he hopped over those huge planters and went trotting down to the lake. So much for that.

My friend Rachel had the cutest idea to plant succulents in teacups and I loved the idea! I thrifted the cups/dishes and love how it turned out.

One of the biggest challenges was figuring out what plants would work back here. It is shaded all but 3 hours of the day, so it was tricky to find plants that were pretty but also practical. Ferns, begonias and dahlias all love light morning sun and then shade the rest of the time, so they're a perfect fit.

We got the cushions for free from my parents, who weren't using them anymore. We adjusted the big couch size so the cushions fit perfectly, but obviously the one for the smaller bench is a bit off. We kind of tuck it in and made it work, though, because it was free and everyone loves free.

We absolutely love the space and can't wait to put it to TONS of use this summer!

We set a pretty small budget for the whole project...we wanted to do the whole thing for $200. When it was all said and done, we ended up spending $230, BUT that also includes several plants + planters that are on the front of our place, a Mary statue that I've been wanting for awhile, and a few planters for inside the house. Here's a breakdown of where everything came from/what we used:

wooden shutters: already owned, similar here // giant planters: Costco, gifted from my parents // couch cushions: free from my parents, similar here // burlap pillow: homemade for our living room, similar here // woven pillow: Target (can't find a link!) repurposed from our living room // terra cotta planter: already owned, similar here // wooden box planter: Garden Ridge, similar here // cinderblocks: Lowes + free from Matt's parents // wooden posts: Lowes // spray paint: Lowes // hanging baskets: lowes // dahlia + succulents: Heartland Growers // wagon table: already owned the wagon, repurposed it as a table (took off the handle + turned the wheels so the metal tongue where the handle attaches was facing the inside--super easy!) // rug: Meijer (it's not an outdoor rug, though), similar here  // flower hooks + wall brackets: Lowes // star lantern: free from my parents // succulent planters: thrifted // vintage wooden crate: thrifted // fake succulent planter (on table): Target // citronella candle: WalMart