Reader Redesign: Patio Perfection

Even though spring is a ways off, Sara’s before and after pictures had us feeling all sunny and cheerful. Here’s her letter:

I’m a longtime reader of your blog, and I have a big Reader Redesign for you. My fiancé and I bought our house last summer and have slowly been fixing it up. I’m so excited to share our biggest project to date: a DIY paver patio. We got a quote from a contractor that wanted around $8200 for the job! We decided to do the work ourselves, and also add a wall for extra seating. With no experience. And only two weeks to get it done before our big summer party. Yikes! We spent all of our nights and weekends (and a couple of vacation days) digging, compacting, leveling, shoveling, and moving (literally) tons of gravel, pavers and sand. It was backbreaking, but we are so pleased with the end result! With some clearance patio furniture and pillows from Home Depot, clearance seat cushions from TJ Maxx and a new fire pit from Menards, we ended up with a 300 square foot outdoor room that was nothing but weeds before! We still have some things to do out there, but for this season we are done. Oh and you can see more details and photos over on our blog. Here’s our budget breakdown for you:

  • Belgard Dublin Cobble pavers, Weston Universal wall stones, edgers, stakes, 11 tons of crushed limestone, two tons of sand, three bags of polymeric sand, concrete adhesive for wall –  $2054
  • Compactor rental – $200
  • Patio table – $140
  • Six patio chairs – $300
  • End table – $40
  • Six throw pillows – $40
  • Six seat cushions – $60
  • Umbrella – FREE gift from neighbor (thanks, Margo!)
  • 50 pound umbrella stand – $85 and worth every penny
  • Fire pit – $100
  • Total:  $3019 – over 5k less than the contractor wanted for just the patio (not including the seat wall!)

Thanks so much for your great blog and for taking the time to check out our big patio project! -Sara

Here’s the bare before photo:

And here’s the amazing after:

Didn’t Sara’s DIY determination pay off big-time? What a fantastic place to entertain and enjoy three seasons out of the year! Plus we can only imagine the added resale value that it brings to their home. Don’t forget to head over to her blog to see more. Amazing job Sara! Now if only spring would hurry up and get here so you can enjoy all that hard work…

Psst- Speaking of hard work, Burger has narrowed his dog version of The Bachelor competition down to two lucky four-legged ladies. Check out the finalists (and the general absurdity) over on Hamburger’s House.


  1. caitlin says

    ah! this is so awesome! i was just writing an email to someone about patio building plans in my sideyard and this is exactly the type of information and inspiration i need :)

  2. says

    Youngsters, thank you so much for the post! We can’t wait for summer to get out there and enjoy our (hard-earned) space again. If anyone has specific questions, feel free to use the ’email me’ link on my blog!

  3. says

    I think the thing that’s coolest about this isn’t even the price tag….it’s the fact that these two literally did it all themselves. How amazing to have such a fantastic new space that just begs to be used….and every time Sara and her fiance sit out there, they will have the memories and the sense of accomplishment in their work. Fantastic.

    Also I really love the extra wall that was built for seating…it also seriously adds to the ambiance and feel of the patio.

    All that said, it is sad to see that gorgeous grass go (I moved from a very grassy East Coast to a yardless home in CA, and it’s still hard for me every time I see someone choose stone over grass). But, tastes are different, and I bet they have plenty of grass in the best of the yard, so – kudos!

  4. says

    Love Sara’s site … I’ve been following her posts for quite a while. She has an irreverant, wicked sense of humor and a great sense of style.

  5. Melissa says

    That’s amazing! I can’t decide if these pictures make me want to sit and relax in your yard or get to work in my own.

    P.S. At first I thought it was the Petersik’s house because of the brick work and the sun room.