This post was created in partnership with Target.
I’ve lived in many homes (and been to many parties) where the only outdoor area in the home is a narrow alleyway behind or on a side of a house. Normally not much more than a strip of concrete up against a fence, the ally often becomes a place for trash cans and not much else. Well today we’re gonna reclaim it–and transform some under-used space into a little getaway!
My inspiration comes from two places. First off, the home of Stella and Pedro Alberti Pictured above. We shot their home for The New Bohemians. As you can see in the above pic, they completely transformed the alleyway on the side of their home to function as a full on patio. It’s pretty magical and I haven’t stopped thinking about the untapped potential of alleyways since I first visited the Alberti home.
My other inspiration is the alleyway behind The Butcher’s Daughter, in Venice (this pic was snapped by my girl, Whitney Leigh Morris). I love the lush living wall, and that fireplace!!?! It’s pretty amazing, right? Also note the cafe lights swagged overhead. So fun.
So here’s the B&A of our alley. With a few simple pieces, we’ve transformed this little spot from concrete to boho chic :D — and now we’re going to show you how. The same tips can go for small patios, driveways, or any small outdoor space that needs a little TLC.
Here’s a play-by-play… First up: think about a color palette. For this makeover I decided to go neutral and add highlights of red and pink. If you use neutral colors for the bigger pieces, it’s always easy to switch up the vibe later by switching out accessories. We recovered the chair cushions in a more fun (but still neutral) ikat-printed fabric, and picked a white side-table and an outdoor rug with a simple, subtle pattern. The rug really helps to visually define the ‘patio’ area — so if you’re making over a space in an alley or (unused) driveway, a rug helps to create the feeling of a ‘room.’
The next thing that we did that made a big difference was to dress the walls. This can be tricky when decorating outdoors, but adding some color onto the fence made such a dramatic difference. I used a vintage kilim runner as a wall-hanging on the fence and once it was up, it immediately created a focal point for the space.
Next we layered in accent pillows and, of course, plants. Including pots (and plants!) in different colors adds more visual interest to the alley and helps to break up the white/grey colors that often dominate these spaces.
Another key ingredient are the cafe lights, and I love these lights with the gold tips that feel kinda retro and let off a really pretty amber glow.
To further enhance mood in these alleyways, candles are paramount and I’m digging these faceted gold lanterns. They are very versatile and feel boho and modern at the same time.
And all of the sudden, the neglected alleyway is all ready for some tunes and a few guests. It may not be big, but it is super welcoming, right? Now all we need is a potbelly stove and a jacuzzi :P!!
Photography by Dabito for The Jungalow. (Photo of the Butcher’s Daughter by Whitney Leigh Morris shared with permission).