Garden Makeover: From Barren to Beautiful


This summer, we partnered with Grace Mitchell of the blog A Storied Style to makeover her backyard. You may have seen the before-and-afters at, but Grace is here today to share the whole process with us. Take it away, Grace!

Hello, this is Grace from “A Storied Style“, and I am so excited to talk to you about our Garden Makeover!

When we moved into our 1920 home four and a half years ago, we knew we had a lot to do. We realized the house had great bones, but we particularly loved the potential of our outdoor space. Having four small children a year apart, we relished the idea of some space for our kids to explore, especially after the postage stamp yard we had in our previous home. It took us a few years to get to what we call the Garden, because our home needed things like…a roof…and working bathrooms.

You see, it all started out like this.


Barren.  You can see in the above photo where we replaced a chain link fence and were halfway through painting everything a deep grey to unify the new and the old fence.

We added a sprinkler system, soil, raised beds, a stone patio for dining, and a stone patio for lounging.  Then it was just a matter of adding lots of green and finding the perfect furniture and accessories to complete the look.


Since we live in an old home, I wanted to honor that but add a modern flair. I love the English Garden look, but I brought in the black and white umbrella to give the dining space a contemporary feel. When choosing furniture for our garden, I did not want it to look too formal, but more gathered over time. I felt that suited the ambiance of the space best.

I chose the Maison 7-Piece Dining Set because the style is so classic. I knew I could keep it many years and mix it with all types of accessories and decor. When I received it, I was so excited because it was beautiful AND sturdy! It has a great weight to it which is perfect for surviving lots of entertaining and the wear and tear from family life.


Because the dining space is where we primarily entertain, I wanted to make that area extra special. I desired a cozy, relaxed feel, but since the patio is in the middle of the garden, it felt very open. The solution I came up with was to place four large Beauclaire planters at each corner of the patio. We planted Indian Hawthornes shaped into tree form in the planters. (Indian Hawthornes are evergreen, and they bloom in the spring so we thought they would be interesting year round.)


The way the trees arch over the dining space creates the warmth I was looking for – almost like an outdoor room.

We eat lots of family meals out here when the weather is nice (which is often since I live in Texas). The garden is fairly shaded by lots of pecan trees so it stays cool enough in the summer. I love to entertain and make good food for people to enjoy so I have been getting a lot of use out of my Beverage Jar. (The silver ladle is the perfect touch!) I actually bought two Beverage Jars so I could offer water and lemonade, or tea and an over 21 beverage. Plus I can use these adorable tags to mark the jars.


At the back of the garden, we placed a small patio for lounging. I envisioned a couple of comfy chairs there to read and relax, all while keeping an eye on the kids.


The Newport Chairs had the lines I was looking for – traditional yet sleek.


The knot detail on the back meant they would be interesting no matter where I placed them.


One thing I would definitely recommend is purchasing the Fast Dry cushions. In the past, we have noticed our outdoor cushions and pillows take forever to dry after an unexpected shower. I was intrigued by the Fast Dry idea so I ordered them, and wow, what a difference! Since they dry so much faster, I think it keeps the cushions looking fresh, too. It was difficult to choose a fabric pattern (Ballard offers so many great ones!), but a wide stripe will never go out of style.


While we are outside much of the day, I knew I wanted the garden to also be useable in the evening. We used these string lights to illuminate our space, and their vintage look gives a calming aura at night. It feels soothing and happy. For tips on how to hang string lights, I used this “How To Decorate” post as a guide, and you can see my suggestions here.


Now that Fall is coming and the summer heat is passing, I’m sure we will be having many a grill night in our garden!


I hope you have enjoyed the tour of our garden space! We love it, and it has been such a rewarding addition to our everyday life at home. Going from barren to beautiful was quite a bit of work, but making a plan, talking about the feel we wanted, and executing it really paid off.

Thank you so much to Ballard Designs and their awesome team for allowing me to post about our makeover, and you can read all about our garden space from start to finish and more on my blog, A Storied Style.

Isn’t this an incredible transformation? We love seeing our pieces in her space, especially the way she mixed our Maison and Newport furniture collections.

Browse all of our outdoor furniture collections, or find more outdoor decorating inspiration on our Pinterest Boards.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.