Decorating Outdoor Spaces of Every Size


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Wanting to give your outdoor space a makeover? We’ve partnered with Kim and Scott Vargo of Yellow Brick Home to show you how to make your space whether it be balcony or backyard ready for summer.

Not quite two years ago, my husband Scott and I bought a house. We’d been in the market, and living in Chicago, we had the romantic dream to find The One with all that old Windy City charm—a home with a history. What we got, however, was an almost 130-year-old house with a caving living room ceiling and a cracked foundation. In other words, we found a house that needed all the love nurtured back into it. As avid lovers of all things DIY, we happily accepted the challenge, and we’ve been covered in drywall dust and paint ever since.

What sealed the deal for us—besides the location in our favorite neighborhood—was the outdoor space. After apartment hopping and eventually living in a small condo for the better part of nine years, we welcomed our (tiny) front yard! Our dog (now two dogs) would have a patch of grass to bake in the sun. Better yet, we had a front porch. It was and still is a dream come true, and we promptly hung a front porch swing, as you do.

All that to say, from cramped quarters to city yard, we’ve decked out our outdoor spaces in every way imaginable. As a Chicagoan, you greet warm weather with open arms, and you don’t let go. No matter the size of your outdoor area, there’s a decorating solution to let it shine. Let’s break it down.

The Balcony

Above, clockwise from top left: Complete Garden Kit, Bird Feeder, Zinc Hood String Lights, Gronomics Vertical Garden Bed, Garden Scissors, Paprika Watering Can

Our first city apartment didn’t so much have a balcony as it did a dedicated landing off of the fire escape. That didn’t stop us from doing some outdoor decorating! For a space of this size, a vertical garden will add a big punch of greenery. A watering can in a bright color will make you smile with every watering, and a pair of good scissors are a necessity for snipping your fresh rosemary. A string of twinkling lights overhead or wrapped around a railing is icing on the cake.

The Front Porch


Above, clockwise from top left: Union 3-Piece Dining Table in Charcoal, White Square Planters, Vintage Bulb String Lights, Saabira Fiberstone Planters, Zinc Rectangular Rail Planter, Aldo Dove Indoor-Outdoor Rug, Outdoor Square Fuchsia Pouf

If it’s a sunny day, this is where you’ll find us (dogs included). So often I see front porches underutilized. I’d start by laying down an outdoor rug and cushy pouf to give you softness underfoot, and I’d add a bistro set for morning coffee. A small grouping of planters with bright blooms adds eye candy, and long rail planters will liven up the porch banisters all season long. Our foolproof, go-to plant are Coleus. Finish it off with Saabira planters flanking the front door.

The Yard


Above, clockwise from top left: 10’ Round Sunbrella Cantilever Umbrella with base, Umbrella Marquee Lights, Morocco 3-Piece Sectional with Sunbrella Cushions, Aldo Blue 20” Outdoor Pillow, Sunbrella Sulfur 20” Outdoor Pillow, Ibarra Ficonstone Planters, Morocco Charcoal Oval Lounge Chair, Gronomics 48” Square Raised Garden Bed

While we don’t have the largest yard, I take every opportunity to live vicariously through our parents’ yards. All the green space wants you to take a seat, and what better way to do so than on a cozy sectional? If space permits, flanking long seating with lounge chairs will give a conversational feel, and an umbrella overhead will keep you cool and comfortable—as will pillows in every color of the rainbow! In my imaginary yard, I’d have garden beds with endless fruits and veggies lining the perimeter.


Above, clockwise from top left: Oval Animal Plates, Weber Blue Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, Lillie’s Q BBQ Ivory Sauce, Lillie’s Q BBQ Smoky Sauce, Acrylic Beverage Dispenser, The Grilling Book Cookbook

Of course, we’ll need a proper grill to cook our fresh garden edibles, and this charcoal Weber would make Scott a happy man. Barbecue sauce on the side and a glass of sun tea would sweeten this deal.

This year, let’s embrace our outdoor spaces and soak in every warm, lazy minute. Cheers to a long outdoor season ahead!

What are your favorite outdoor decorating ideas? Share them on the Crate and Barrel Twitter page.

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