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How to DIY your way to luxury outdoor living

We moved to a new home a little over a year ago, and it is such an amazing change for me – We went from a house that was super cute, but was right on a major city street in a not-so-great neighborhood, to a new home outside of the city with a HUGE 4-bay shop, wrap-around cement patio, and in-ground pool. Our first summer here last year was all about doing some basic clean up of the property – and a HUGE project getting the pool cleaned up and taken care of – But this year we’re ready to do some fun improvements! We loooove to entertain, and with the 100+ degree temps all summer here in Central Washington, our pool becomes the gathering spot for all of our friends and fam, which I love. So, I’ve picked out some totally uh-MAY-zing pics to guide me in transforming our space… They are all totally out of reach for me on my super limited budget, but they can inspire some more budget-friendly outdoor living DIY projects…

“One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.” – Henry David Thoreau

How awesome is this? From the built-in kitchen set up to the under-water bar stool seating, this is just incredible, right? We obviously are not rock stars or Mega Millions winners – yet – so this is out of reach. But, there are some cool aspects of this that we can use. One big goal of mine is to build an outdoor kitchen – and I’ve seen some awesome budget-friendly ideas like this amazingly cheap outdoor kitchen DIY using old cement blocks, or this outdoor kitchen project built around your existing BBQ. And while I can’t afford underwater seating – I can get us a few new fun fabric-covered pool chairs, so that we can carry our drinks while we float. Love those. {Plus, I use Swagbucks, and earn tons of free Amazon gift cards, so I can get at little cost.}

poolside seating ideas

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Doesn’t this make you long for a sunny afternoon and a good book? So perfectly lovely. But alas, my budget does not include funds for a beautiful white cabana. But, I am planning to make some pretty cushioned seating on our patio, like this fabric-covered concrete block bench. We have a ton of old block laying around, so this would be super inexpensive to build. It won’t be as luxurious as this, but it will still be a nice place to read and relax.

fountains in swimming pool

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.” – George R.R. Martin

Something about fountains feels so childlike and magical to me. I was always so intrigued by any type of waterfall or fountain when I was a little girl. This is so beautiful, the way it falls into the pool. Love it. And I found a bunch of totally do-able outdoor fountain ideas that we can make on the cheap from! There are so many fun ideas on there.

garden path DIY

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!” – Kenny Chesney

Since summer is all about outdoor entertaining for us, I want to have ways to connect all of our different outdoor spaces. There is a walkway from the pool area to the shop – and the guys spend a lot of time in there. We’re building a play area for the kids behind the shop, near the field – with a swing set, sandbox, and picnic area. Then we’ve got a path that winds around to the front of the house too. I love this ideas of using big stones to make a fun pathway, and this would be a lot cheaper than paving or making full brick paths. I love that it’s so simple and whimsical.

What do you think?

You can see more of my Outdoor Living ideas on Pinterest, check out my current favorite book, Backyard Idea Book: Outdoor Kitchens, Sheds & Storage, Fireplaces, Play Spaces & Pools – and be sure to follow along during the month of May, as I share tons of tips, ideas, products, and all the progress we’re making on turning our outdoor space into a super fun place. With tight budgets we’re not able to take a real vacation – so instead, I’ll show you some great frugal ways to make your own property a perfect place to spend your summer afternoons. Do you have any great ideas or tips to share? Leave me some comments!



  1. Love the 1st two, especially! We want to build our next home, and if we do – an outdoor cooking area like the top picture is on my list of “I’d love to haves!”.

  2. You are making me miss my house in Wichita! While we didn’t have a pool, we had an awesome outside entertaining area that all my friends congregated to. Backyards are definitely an extension of your living space and need to be taken advantage of!

  3. Such great inspiration, thank you!

  4. We’re in a townhouse, so the only outdoor kitchen I have is my bbq on the back deck… luckily I sprang for a really nice bbq so I feel luxurious while I’m cooking :-)

  5. Love it! I don’t really have any outdoor space, but if I did I think I would want it to look like the 2nd picture :)

  6. These are some great ideas! We live literally on the side of a mountain so there is not much we can do with our yard and I miss it! I would love to turn the back yard into an oasis but it just kinda drops off – LOL! I’ll have to live vicariously through you!

  7. Wow, those are amazing! I’m so jealous. Seriously.

  8. I want to swim on up to the bar and get a drink right now. Oh, sorry, I was envisioning Vegas. I LOVE LOVE LOVE those ideas. Midwesterner longing for beach fronts and ocean views. Great ideas.

  9. Your dream is mine too! Love all the ideas!

  10. Loved every single one of those ideas –and every spot looks to be both relaxing and fun. Can’t wait to see what you incorportate into your own “backyard oasis”.

  11. Love all of those!

  12. As much as I fantasize about the top pool ones, I’m content with the last picture :) More realistic!

  13. I love those pictures. I can’t wait till we own our own house, so I can do stuff like this.

  14. I. want. that. Any one of those designs will be fine, thanks.

  15. Those are beautiful. :) I’ve been working on a post of dream homes and those look like perfect back yards!

  16. Amazing ideas! We are moving our house close to the Black Sea and we will be looking for some ideas to incorporate swimming pool and Jacuzzi in our garden. We live outside in Bulgaria for 8 months of the year so it makes sense to have our outdoor space looking beautiful. I love the outside barbecue space connected to the swimming pool:). It definitely gives me some inspiration.

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