See how DIY lovers transformed their backyard into a stylish outdoor living space on a budget

A thrifty couple transformed their neglected garden into a highly functional and relaxing backyard living space on a budget, and the result is unrecognizable

outdoor living space with seating in the form of two sofas, a black dining table, and a black and white rug
(Image credit: Lori Mapako)

A DIY fan and her husband have totally transformed their backyard into a calm and sociable area. The pair, who have a young baby, redesigned the area to make it really work for them. The result is a stylish, multi-functional backyard, with plenty of the best garden furniture, to unwind in.

With plenty of seating, an outdoor rug and a parasol, they've effectively gained a whole new room in their home.

Before – the original backyard living space

a messy backyard before a makeover, with plants, tools and mud scattered around

(Image credit: Lori Mapako)

Lori Beach had always wanted a low-maintenance garden and a safe space for their baby to play in. Having renovated the inside of the house and the front garden, they felt it only made sense to do the back garden, too.

'The previous garden did not make full use of the small space we had, so I had to re-design the entire garden,' says Lori. 'This meant removing everything to start with a blank canvas.

'We have always had a vegetable patch, so we knew that would be included in the new design.' As a way to make the garden feel like a true extension of the home, Lori used gray shades to complement the inside of her house. She also decorated the sitting area with ochre to bring in a splash of color.

After – the new backyard living space

a stylish and modern outdoor living area, with grey and black garden furniture and a monochrome rug

(Image credit: Lori Mapako)

'We decided to build our garden furniture from pallets as we wanted to minimize the costs,' Lori tells us. 'The whole project took five weeks as the weather was not good for the first couple of weeks.' 

Lori and her husband bought most of the materials from hardware store B&Q and the total cost of the entire garden was $5,290/£3,800.

a backyard looking onto the house, with artificial turf and a living area close to the house

(Image credit: Lori Mapako)

The end result maximizes the space, with lots of practical but stylish backyard ideas. There are distinct zones, a large open area for kids to play in, and plenty of storage for keeping soft furnishings safe when it rains. 

They've made a really convivial space in the main seating area, with comfy outdoor sofas, a coffee table, and an outdoor rug from Amazon. The addition of plenty of blankets and cushions makes it feel like a very inviting spot to while away an evening.

The separate dining table at the opposite corner of the garden also means they can make the most of the sunlight throughout the day. Plus, the paved area at the bottom of the garden looks like a great place to put a barbecue.

a backyard with artificial grass, with outdoor seating in the form of a black dining set, to the left

(Image credit: Lori Mapako)
  • See also: 30 patio ideas – how to design and style a big or small patio

Find out more about how to link your indoor and outdoor rooms in our guide, which has lots of smart suggestions.

'It has been a tough journey as we had a lot of dust and mud sometimes making its way back into the house,' Lori recalls. 'It was like living in a building site, with a bag of cement in the kitchen and power tools everywhere.'

But it was well worth it, as the pair now have a lovely space to relax in after a long day’s work. 'My husband and I work on IT and we work full time, so after the stress of work we can escape to our sanctuary.'

Feeling inspired but limited with a small space? Hotfoot it to our small backyard ideas roundup for ways to upgrade your space. Also, check out our guide to the best garden parasols to create a shady spot in your garden like this DIY couple.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.