If you’re stuck in the middle of dreary winter right now (hello, Northern Hemisphere), you might be focusing on projects that you can do inside your home to make it warm and cozy. But if you’re daydreaming about outdoor projects that you’ll be able to enjoy come warmer weather, count this welcoming patio redo from Ndandu Khavhadi, the blogger behind Just a Mom With a Drill, among your inspirations.
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In South Africa, where Ndandu and her family live, it’s customary to come together for a regular family feast called a braai — essentially a big barbecue dinner. But Ndandu was less than satisfied with her outdoor hosting space.
“This space was dull and the floor and the windows were badly damaged,” says Ndandu. Plus, the dining table was an old pine farmhouse table from the 1990s that was on its last legs. “It would force us to make the food and eat inside in the dining room,” says Ndandu, noting this was less than ideal, since the summer in South Africa is the best time to spend late afternoons and evenings outside as a family.
So Ndandu set out to make the backyard area the perfect gathering place, one step at a time. First up: the floor. “I was quoted thousands for material to re-coat the floor,” says Ndandu. “It’s money we were not willing to spend, so I went back to the drawing board and developed my own method.”
To start, Ndandu fixed cracks and holes with a cement and sand mixture, then used the same mixture to close the tiles grout lines. Once that was dry, she gave the whole place a thorough clean, applied two coats of the DIY mix, and sealed it all.
Next, Ndandu tackled the windows. She fixed up the pieces that were “almost falling apart,” as she puts it, then sanded, primed, and painted with a black enamel paint. The bold color pops against the walls, which Ndandu re-painted in a creamy neutral tone.
Finally, it was time to focus on the area’s most important piece: the dining table. Rather than replace the old one entirely, Ndandu cut off the bevelled edges of the tabletop to give it a more modern look. Then, to mask the old legs, she added corner pieces using scrap wood, which gives the look of hefty beams. (This is a great trick to borrow if you want to change up a table but aren’t sold on permanent alterations.) Finally, Ndandu painted the whole piece with chalky finish paint in black. New benches made from reclaimed wood offer lots of room for gathering, and cost almost nothing to create.
Final touches include pendant lights Ndandu DIYed using jute twine molded around balloons, and wall art she made with Masonite and acrylic paint. The total cost of this redo came to about $200 USD.
It wasn’t an easy project, but it was a true labor of love — and a process Ndandu wholly embraced. “With every step of this project, there was some kind of setback, but finding a solution or a way out gave me such joy,” she says.
“You should see how this place looks in the evening when the lights are on,” says Ndandu. “It feels like a totally different space. It feels like part of the house now. I’m definitely looking forward to the memories we create here.”
How’s that for some new year inspiration?