Simple Fixes With Impact

5 Ways to Refresh Outdoor Spaces

Simple Fixes with ImpactAshley Goldman, who has been transforming her 100-year-old Craftsman house in South Park, writing about the do-over on her blog The Gold Hive ( and amassing more than 10,000 followers in the process, was one of the 20 featured designers during this past spring’s popular online One Room Challenge (, the bi-annual event where 20 chosen influencers each make over a room in their house in just six weeks.

This, however, wasn’t Ashley’s first One Room Challenge. The well-versed DIYer participated in two prior challenges as a guest, making over her den and home office. This time she tackled her master bedroom, and because that seemed too easy, she tacked on the backyard too.

“It’s always been part of the plan to regrade the yard, install a new deck and create permanent plantings,” Ashley says. “But as I was making over the bedroom and looking out the window to the back, I decided I wanted a door in my room, and well, then I had to do the yard too.”

Ashley still plans to redo the deck and fence, get rid of the giant Jacuzzi that sits empty (way too energy inefficient) and also reconfigure the layout of the landscape, but for this project, she had to make an impact without a commitment. Changes had to be cost and time effective. Ashley shares a few of her tricks for expanding her living space outside:

Simple Fixes with Impact

1. Paint is magic.
The eight-person, red and powder-blue hot tub monopolized the backyard. Ashley decided to paint the eyesore black to make it essentially disappear. She used an exterior paint in flat sheen to avoid fading and peeling.

2. Shift into neutrals.
Though the furnishings Ashley chose also come in a fun orange, the renovator went for classic black and white to highlight her reason for coming outside—nature’s beauty. “I don’t want my furniture to compete with the pale pink jasmine or hot pink bougainvillea,” she says. If black feels too modern, she suggests looking for wood-tone tables and chairs.

3. Opt for multifunctional plants.
Veggies and lettuces provide sculptural decor as they grow before being harvested. Finding organic veggies that are already plants is a lot easier—and prettier—than starting from seeds. In fact, simplicity is key with all her garden selections. “San Diego’s famous for its rock-hard soil, so I buy plants that are already in pots so I don’t have to go digging,” Ashley says.

4. Change the lighting.
During the makeover, Ashley removed conduit from the house that provided the only source of outdoor illumination—oops! But she was ready to purchase lighting so she could use the outdoors to entertain or lounge during evening hours. She added low-voltage LED fixtures throughout—ambient lighting along the fence and garage, where the ivy she loves thrives; spotlights for the trees; and a few strategically placed path lights.

5. Treat an outdoor space like a room.
Just as you add thoughtful details to your interior spaces, you should do the same in the yard. An outdoor rug, some cushions and tabletop succulents instantly cozy up and make a space feel complete—even if it’s not yet.

Simple Fixes with Impact

Categories: design inspiration, Home Design