Cozy Spaces | Backyard Nook

Written by and Photography by Charla in Spaces


While it’s thrilling enough to look at the latest and hippest house/garden/design magazines, I may often flip through the color spreads and look at the price tags next to each of those unique pieces of furniture, gadgets, fabrics, and tasteful furniture.

Then I sigh, put the magazine down, and apply yet another dab of spot remover on my sofa in order to put off replacing it until I saved a little more. Whether inside or outside your house, designing an attractive space shouldn’t have to break your bank. Why not just start with what you have, combine it with what you find, and then buy just enough to round it out.



The back corner of Charla’s backyard, a space shared with two other apartments, looked until recently like the last place on earth. Dead plants in half broken pots were scattered around 10 x 10 foot space. A sickly ivy plant struggled through dust and webs to find any source of light while endless piles of cigarette butts filled every possible container.

I lifted a weather-beaten wicker love seat and saw six – count ‘em, six – sacs of spider eggs underneath. That was when Charla said, “No. Just, no.”


Over the course of a few weekends, we tossed the dead plants, organized the empty pots, got rid of the furniture and trimmed the ivy. Charla stacked some pallets, then added a plywood plank and a few cushions and pillows. She found an old headboard in an alley, cleaned it, and added adhesive stencil letters spelling “DREAM”, and then she stood it behind the pallets.

The center of this new space features an old trunk Charla bought 14 years ago for $200 and is topped with a glass tabletop from some old outdoor furniture. At dusk when the overhead market lights ($30 for two strands) turned on, there it was: our space.