I realize it’s Fall and most of the country is inside, being warmed up by a crackling fire place, watching football and drinking red wine. Well, us Floridians are doing just about the opposite. We are running outside, all the time, because NO MORE HUMIDITY! And no more rain! Granted, we are still drinking wine and watching football. This is the time of year we live for. And I couldn’t go another winter without having our backyard reshaped into a space that is usable, comfortable and perfect for our winter nights.
Enter – Meghan Grimbert. You guys. One would think updating a backyard in Miami is something you can do quick and cheap, because, ahem, backyards are a dime a dozen and we live in a climate where you can arguably use your backyard 365 days a year. Yeah, no. Nope, nope, nope. First, to find a company – or a human – to do this work took me months. Second, backyards are expensive. Maintaining and landscape and furniture covers (because we have these things called hurricanes) and sprinkler systems and fences and privacy plants and lighting. Honestly. I can’t even. Last, to find high quality, reasonably-priced workers for these projects is as easy as getting invited to Joanna Gaines house for dinner.
Okay, back to Meghan and back to my backyard. My hope was gone that my backyard would ever get updated for less than a small fortune. I was desperate. And of no coincidence, I was on a run a couple months ago and wham-o! I see a gorgeous little sign in the front of a house that had recently been renovated (and is now for sale, designed by this lovely Meghan I am telling you about). I took a chance, emailed her and she responded within an hour or two. She shows up at my house that week and I fall in love (because anyone who loves design as much or more than me, is hard-working, kind, creative AND normal for sure is bound to be my new best friend). #hired
We brainstorm and send like 800 texts back and forth for days of different ideas and costs and resources for this backyard-on-a-budget project. She comes over to my house dozens of times. We drink coffee. We share our love for @studiomcgee. We talk about our kiddos. And dream about design for days. And more importantly, we get this backyard done!
I cannot sing Meghan’s praise enough. She is a great business woman. She is uber creative. Resourceful. Worked on a small budget. Was fun to collaborate with. She exceeded my expectations. #nailedit
Now I bring to you the before and after of my new backyard on a budget reveal! Also, our top 10 – err 11 – tips on how to save are below. Enjoy 🙂
And here is our top ten list of ways to save when you want to upgrade your backyard abode.
Paint! All of the furniture besides those gorgeous refurbished attan chairs (see point 2) was upgraded with some paint. We even painted the tall candle holders as they were so perfect for the space (and I’ve had them for literally 6 years and they are still going strong, now with a fresh coat of classic navy spray paint!).
Antique stores for supplemental furniture, as needed. Meghan found those incredible chairs in near perfect condition for $30. Yes, $30 for TWO CHAIRS.
Instead of doing a wood deck (my estimate came in at about $6k), buy pavers instead. Those were roughly $650 including labor and the tiny granite rocks in between each paver. #yesplease
Pillows, pillows and more pillows. First, they make the space. Second, they set the tone and color palette. Third, buy them at end of season (ahem, now). Most of the pillows in these pictures were from West Elm or Pottery Barn and were $10. Originally $40 I believe. It pays to wait. #punintended
If you have a giant yard like we do (this is literally only about 1/3 of the yard you are seeing), don’t buy new plants or foliage! Just move around the landscaping, repurpose the good stuff and clean up the yard to create a more inviting space. Cost = labor only and a little creativity from Meghan.
Forgo the pergola. This was a little hard/sad as I really wanted a custom pergola, covered, with electric and the whole thing. Well, the estimates were coming in in the $10k range to start (in Miami it’s required to get a licensed architect to do the designs which can be costly and that doesn’t include the materials or labor). Instead, I bought a few shade sails from Amazon and covered the patio, albeit it doesn’t fully protect from rain, for about $300 including the labor to install. While not as functional as a pergola, it was literally a fraction of the cost, is cute, creates a nice ambiance and is doing the trick quite well.
DIY lights – buy heavy duty indoor/outdoor lights (mine are Smith and Hawken from Target). Buy hooks to put on your house. Hang the lights for literally the best lighting ever at night. This was less than $100 and truly makes the space, IMHO.
Go to Home Goods or Target for a few “not necessary but totally necessary at the same time” pieces to pull the space together. I have a little rug under the table that I found for $13. The baskets are functional, waterproof and were $15. I also found candles on super clearance at West Elm which was lucky (who doesn’t need candles on clearance?!).
Power wash. I wanted to tear up the terra cotta Spanish area of our patio. And it would have been $900 in the labor alone, not including the cost of a new patio for that area. Instead, my handyman came over and power washed it (for that space it was around $50) and bammo! It was like a new space.
Last, World Market is a great resource for high quality, on point finds at a great value. The coffee table was the only new piece of furniture I purchased and it was $60 and took 4 minutes to put together.
Okay one more thing. I know I said top 10 list but. I got all wrapped up in buying new dining furniture and having it perfect and Pinterest-worthy, STAT. Well, I am not made of money and we had furniture that was in good condition. So, thanks to my wise partner-in-crime, I didn’t buy new furniture and instead, added a beautiful umbrella from Wayfair to tie the space together. Done and done, $200 (vs. at least $1k-$2k for a whole new dining set).
If you are ever in Miami, come on by for some vino!
Ann (and Meghan!)