Our backyard has always been a play area for our kids- it is full of adventure! It was whatever they imagined it to be. It has gone from a place where they played superhero to a place where they can just hang out with friends. Today I’m sharing our favorite outdoor renovations!
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Just as the seasons change, so has our backyard. We’ve changed it to accommodate our growing kids, but the one thing that has remained the same is that it’s always a place where they want to be.
We did the same thing with the driveway. Where they once set up a mini pool on the driveway, they now play basketball. We even extended the driveway to accommodate extra cars for the teenage drivers in our house & visiting our house.
We wanted our outside spaces to be filled with places where we could enjoy being together.
Our Most Recent Backyard, Porch & Driveway Renovation:
With four kids in the tween & teen stage, our kids are going to be using these areas more & more. When the older boys’ friends come over to hang out, they go to the screened-in porch to hang out. When the younger kids’ friends come over to hang out, they go to their forts & playhouses.
One place that everyone hangs out is the driveway.
So I’ll share our “after” pictures of each area. 😉
Backyard After Pictures
I wanted a fun place to hang out that was open to us but private from the rest of the world. While we live in a neighborhood, the trees give us a lot of privacy. Many were there, but we added the rest.
Mickey built this adorable little playhouse for our daughter.
We painted it black & white to match our house, then we added flowers in the little window boxes and hanging flower baskets outside. 🙂
In the winter, we put lights on the playhouse & add a wreath to the front door.
The Steps into the Woods
My husband built steps that go up a small hill and into the woods. He strung outdoor globe lights throughout our woods so that the kids could see at night. He also built a fort in the woods (it looks more like a tiny house than a fort!) and hung two hammocks. He added two slides that lead you out of the woods and into the backyard.
Our son’s best friend lives right behind us, so Mickey added steps that go to the gate that connects our yard. The steps are right beside the shed. He also lined the path with lights that hang from the trees. You can’t see them in the daytime, but you can see everything at night. 🙂
The Fort in the Woods
Once our boys saw our daughter’s playhouse, they decided that they would build a fort, with the help of my husband.
They helped design the plans, figure out how the fort needed to be structured, and make a list of materials.
They built the fort in one day. The following day my husband & our older boys added electricity, shelving (inside), screens on the windows, and a lock on the front door. Our youngest son & his friend added bells on the door so they could hear any intruders. 🙂
Slide Leading from the Woods to the Yard
My husband also took two old sliding boards that we had saved from old playhouses and reused them. While we first had DIY slides in the hill (built right into the hill), we re-used them to make this sliding board that the kids use every day.
They have races on the two slides & love it!
He added the steps to get to the slide, so they had an easier way to get up instead of climbing on the retaining wall that he built.
The swingset was added for the kids & our neighbors to use. It’s perfect for everyone!
We debated which swingset to buy, but after realizing that most of our kids & their friends are already tweens at the time, we went with the metal swingset.
The metal piping is concrete-mounted for stability.
We added the swings, monkey bars, trapeze bar, and gymnastics rings.
The kids & our neighbors use it daily.
The best part is that I can see the entire yard from our screened-in back porch.
They can see me, too, so if they need anything, I’m always close. 🙂
I can see the playhouse, the swing set, the slide, and the fort in the woods from my favorite spot on the back porch… the swing.
The Screened In Porch
The screened-in porch is where I spent a lot of time. It was built by my dad, my brother, and my husband. We use it to watch movies, to play cards, and just to hang out.
When you walk out, I have a farmhouse bench, from Backyard Discovery, on the left. Since this bench is made of Meranti hardwood, it is weather-resistant and durable. It can be used indoor or outdoor. It looks so pretty on a porch!
It works for our family because it is so versatile. The kids sit on it to take their shoes off before coming inside, and I like it because it has a rustic farmhouse look that is aesthetically pleasing. It’s a win-win.
I like to add a little bit of decor on top of it, like a pillow, plant, lanterns, etc. based on the season.
The main part of the screened-in porch is where we sit to hang out. We have two rocking chairs with a decorating ladder-shelf in the middle of them.
We have a swing and a coffee table that functions as a kid-table, thanks to the two mini wicker chairs.
We have this seating area that can be moved around based on what you need.
We also have a little bistro table that the kids sit at to eat & do school work. I also use it to work during the warmer days.
Our daughter & niece like to have little tea parties & lunch dates out there, too. 🙂
Driveway & Seating Area
Before we had our driveway extended, we had a mulched area on the side of our driveway.
Once our oldest son started driving, we decided that we should add to the driveway. We extended it into the mulched area. It’s been the most-used part of the driveway!
We added a basketball hoop there & the kids ride their scooters & bikes all over the large part of the driveway.
The only problem was that we found ourselves sitting on the retaining wall. When friends would stop by to drop off their kids, we hung out in the driveway to talk for a few minutes. When the kids wanted us to watch them ride bikes or shoot lacrosse, we sat on the driveway.
Then we found a solution with Backyard Discovery: the Hillsdale Traditional Steel Cabana Pergola with Traditional Seating.
I love how the Hillsdale Cabana Pergola with patio seating by Backyard Discovery blends into nature. It is functional and beautiful.
It’s constructed from 100% galvanized steel, so it is very durable.
The Hillsdale cabana pergola also includes built-in steel seating.
It also has an integrated side table and durable composite panels for privacy and shade. The unique architecture of the Hillsdale will make any area more beautiful and functional.
There are four color options for the Sunbrella® cushions, but we went with navy blue. (It looks a little lighter based on how the sun is hitting it, so I took a few pictures throughout the day to give you an idea. 🙂 It’s beautiful all of the time.
There are other options, and they are beautiful, as well.
The top corner of the driveway is my favorite spot. It is peaceful and relaxing, and private between the Hillsdale Traditional Steel Cabana Pergola, landscaping, and retaining wall.
Plus, from this top corner of the driveway, we can see the kids wherever they are: driveway, backyard, woods, or even the cul-de-sac in the front of the house. It was made for the Cabana Pergola- pretty, peaceful, and practical.
Outdoor spaces can be the best spaces if you plan them for your family’s needs.
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