Renovations That Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space

Because of the pandemic, you’ve probably been spending most of your time at home. Most, if not all, of us are probably itching to get outdoors and enjoy the summer sun while it lasts. Unfortunately, there are a lot of park closures and visiting limitations put in place in the state of California and neighboring states. So, we have to make do with what we have in our own backyards.

Some sunshine and vitamin D can make quarantining much more enjoyable, and there are plenty of articles and blog posts out there filled with activities that you can do at home — both inside and outdoors! But having an outdoor space that can accommodate these activities is important.

Before and after of the patio area and pergola. (Source: California Renovation)

One of our renovation projects, titled The Gekko Project, included some outdoor renovations that transformed on household’s outdoor space completely! Now, they are getting the most out of their outdoor space. We outfitted their backyard with artificial turf, a pergola, a patio, and an outdoor kitchen. Whew! That was a mouthful. And it was a pretty hefty project, but now that it’s done, the household is getting the most out of their outdoor space.

A newly renovated backyard can open up a door for plenty of new recreational possibilities right at home! Below, we’ve broken down each of this project’s elements so that you can get a better idea about each renovation and what they can add to your home.

Artificial Turf

Despite what you may have heard, turf isn’t just for sports arenas. It can bring the feeling, look, and experience of having grass to your own backyard! All for less maintenance than the real thing.

Additionally, especially when living in a hot, dry climate like Northern California, grass maintenance can be quite difficult. If you have children or pets, you know how important grass is for a yard. It makes a huge difference when both children and pets alike can roll around and play in the yard on the soft grass.

Turf isn’t one size fits all, however. There are different types of turf to suit your needs and budget.

A backyard with artificial turf. (Source: Walk-Thru With Amy)

There are three major materials that create turf: Polypropylene; Polyethylene; and Nylon. Polypropylene is the most affordable option, but that means it’s also the least durable. It has a low melting point, meaning it can’t withstand very hot temperatures. Polypropylene turf is good for very small patches of greenery — like on a balcony for example. Or, this type of turf could also be great if you want some greenery indoors.

Polyethylene is perfect for most yards! It’s more durable than polypropylene, but isn’t as expensive as turf made of nylon. It can withstand at-home soccer matches and playing fetch with your dog. Additionally, this type of turf is porous, meaning it doesn’t trap in any odors like nylon turf does. Perfect for pet owners!

Unless you plan on getting in some putting practice at home, you probably won’t want to pay extra for nylon turf. If you live in a very hot climate, however, nylon may be a good option as it can stand up to very hot temperatures, while others could potentially become warped and flat when exposed to heat.

Think of the activities you could do and games you could play! With turf, you can hold off on going to a public park for a picnic. Better yet, if you forget to “bring” anything, your kitchen is no more than 10 steps away.


In case you haven’t heard (because I hadn’t), a pergola is an outdoor structure, typically made of wood, that provide a shade for walkways, pathways, or seating areas. Pergolas can be wonderful for providing some coverage from the intense summer sun during the warmer months, allowing you to relax comfortably with a book or with friends and family.

Pergola with lounge area. (Source: Bob Vila)

As an added bonus, pergolas can be useful if you’re into gardening. Commonly, pergolas are used to train woody vines. Like grapes for example! Besides being useful, this can provide some beautiful, rustic charm to your yard. Add a charcuterie board, and you’ll feel like you’re living in the Italian countryside!

From a design perspective, pergolas can also be wonderful tools for breaking up your outdoor space, giving it a bit more structure and organization. Pergolas help to designate certain areas of your yard for certain activities. Yards can look a bit less overwhelming when broken up in this way.

Patios & Outdoor Kitchens

This probably goes without saying, but patios are an essential part of any outdoor living space. They lay a foundation for your home’s outdoor recreation and entertaining area. Patios are especially wonderful for eating and grilling outdoors, but they’re very customizable, too! With the help of a professional, you can design and create a patio that suits your own wants and needs. Maybe you’d like to include a firepit, an outdoor dining area, or even set up an entertainment area complete with a projector for an outdoor movie night.

Outdoor kitchen with a view. (Source: KGA Studio Architects)

Our client chose to outfit their patio with an outdoor kitchen. Just like patios, not every outdoor kitchen is the same. Simpler, more affordable ones may only include a rill and some storage space, while more extravagant outdoor kitchens include mini refrigerators, bars, and sinks.

Outdoor kitchens are great if you especially like to entertain outdoors. Think about it: you won’t have to break a sweat moving between your indoor kitchen and your outdoor grilling area. It will all be in one space. Phew!

While we’re all staying in a bit more at the minute, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the sunshine and good weather. There are plenty of renovations, both big and small, that can be done so that you’re making the most out of your backyard. You’ll be able to participate in more activities with your loved ones in your optimized outdoor space. Soon enough, you’ll forget about the park closures all-together!

And once the pandemic is over, and we can all meet up again and congregate, your backyard will be a prime spot for hosting friends and family.

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