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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Bechen

Our Secret Garden Carport Patio Makeover Reveal

Updated: Jun 8

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

I promised to share with you how we transformed our blah utilitarian carport into a pleasant Secret Garden at-home-vacation-getaway, so here it is! I hope it gives you some ideas for transforming your own outdoor space, however you choose to decorate it.

Our overall goals at the outset of this DIY home project were:

  1. FEELING: Create a "feeling" of a peaceful, private, and charming garden/outdoor bistro/romantic B&B-like setting like we have enjoyed during our travels pre-Covid. An "at-home vacation" feeling if you will. We looked back on some of our favorite travel places and then we just let our own creativity flow.

  2. FUNCTION: Include a sectioned "bistro" area so we can eat easily out there at a table or work on a laptop, plus make a separate "lounge" area to sit and chat, just like in an indoor living room. Also include attractive "hidden" storage spaces in small awkward crannies throughout the patio area. (Shown below.)

  3. PRIVACY: Provide privacy from the street in front of our home, from super-close neighboring homes, and from the empty RV lot right next to our home where snowbirds come in and out during the winter months to stay for varying lengths of time.

  4. CONSERVE OUR DESERT & CLIMATE: Use only faux plants so we do not have to water, fertilize, or clip! We have enjoyed gardening at home in the past with real plants but we are now in our mid 60s and we don't want to maintain a real growing garden, but we do want to enjoy one, so this faux garden is it! Today's faux plants look so real. Plus, the U.S. Southwest is experiencing a concerning drought so we do not want to use more than our share of water, and faux plants achieve that too.

  5. DOLLARWISE REPURPOSING: Repurpose everything we already had on our patio that was still in good condition and that still fit our overall goal for look and feel. Anything that was still good but did not fit our new look we donated after four years of using them. I don't like to waste, nor overfill landfills with our things that can be repurposed for someone else to enjoy.

  6. SHARED MARITAL PROJECT: Work together on this project as a marital team; playing to our individual strengths and skills. In other words, I don't work well with a drill and bolts and Steve enjoys that but he doesn't have much interest in ordering and researching cute home decor online. So we each do what we are good at and then we are both happy and have fun together.

  7. ORDER ONLINE: Order everything we bought online and have it delivered to our home. No in-person shopping due to Covid concerns still. BTW, we achieved this! Everything you see below that is new was ordered online, down to the last bolt, and delivered to our home. Most things came from Amazon. I love the efficiency of Amazon ordering.

  8. DOLLARWISE BUDGETING: Use some of the funds we have been putting away each month for future travel since we are not traveling due to Covid and have also, surprisingly, both lost interest in traveling much as it's become too complicated.

  9. MAKE PEOPLE SMILE: Simply make people smile when they drive by our little cottage-style retirement home and see colorful flowers, white trellis, and pretty wreaths on our doors. I love to drive by homes with cozy charm and curb appeal, so why not make our own home that way?!

  10. HOSE-OFF-ABLE: I realize we said we want to conserve water, and we do. But the only way to really clean outdoor patios and furnishings in the desert with all the dust is to hose things off. We figure we can do this once in awhile since we are saving water by not watering real live plants all the time. Steve bought this power washer and really likes it.

As you can see, our overall plan was strategic, but not rigid. We came up with our overall idea and then let the creativity flow with ordering goods and it all evolved. We paid cash for everything due to our overall strategic dollarwise lifestyle m.o. and we feel this project was a good investment in our happiness, as well as improving our property too.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Okay, here's our tour of our little Secret Garden and our thought process and strategy as we worked through this DIY project.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

We started with cleaning the space with Steve's new power washer and let everything dry well. That had to be done as our concrete was really dirty under the old rugs even though we hose it off fairly regularly.

First thing I got right to was the new rugs. I was hankering for a palm/tropical feeling and these worked great. They do not match exactly but I like them better now that they don't as it further separates the bistro area from the lounge area, yet it's complementary. The rugs also nicely covered a couple stains on the concrete that would not come off, even with power washing. Rug 1. Rug 2.

We both like the feeling when we eat at night at an outdoor patio bistro of romantic little white lights, so we were copious with those for this project. (Okay, so maybe we got a little carried away!)

Our cabana we bought new four years ago when we bought the house and it has held up great! Since it's not directly in the AZ sun I think that has definitely helped. Similar cabana/gazebo.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

We already had the chairs for the lounge area and I found new pillow covers to go over the blah brown chair pads. The pillow covers can be removed easily and tossed in the washer if need be, or just hosed off too.

We already had the round table so I found a tropical tablecloth with elastic so the wind won't blow it off. These are wonderful! They are fabric, not vinyl, so don't stink like vinyl and look much better too.

We had the other chair pillows and the table to the right just got a new tablecloth. Steve uses that table for drinks and to clean our groceries packages during the pandemic. (Pandemics were made for clean freaks!) :)

I love our new little olive tree and at night the lights are so twinkly!

We had the blue ceramic table. Similar. Steve had repainted the legs last year with spray paint so it is still fine.

The "Anna's Corner" flower shop painting is new and is hanging right on the side of our home. It reminds us of our past fun travels wandering in and out of charming little shops etc. around the U.S.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Our side door has a step out to the patio/carport. It's a big white ugly thing in my opinion, but necessary to get into and out of our house. :)

So we implemented what I call "camouflage decorating" by using a white plastic shade to hide views into the patio from our front street, a hanging planter pots get-up, and floral curtains to hide storage bins that are big and very blue. Mission accomplished. All can just be hosed off, again.

We also softened the hard step lines with a wisteria tree, lemon tree, and small lemon tree which also provided more privacy from the street, and some nice color too.

The bamboo trellis planter on the right side, with faux greenery, hides the view to the RV lot next door. And thankfully, I can no longer see their ugly bright blue trash cans right when I open our door. (I don't do ugly well, on the off-chance anyone has not noticed here.) :)

The sunshades similar to this one Steve installed last year and they have greatly helped with our electric bill as well as provided privacy, plus they prevent debris from blowing so much during AZ winds. (Haboobs, I'm looking at you!)

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

The little bistro table we had and I covered it up with a new tablecloth. Love these tablecloths!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

We are loving how the lights added romantic charm! The colorful hanging flower baskets were a nice addition too.

Our 42nd wedding anniversary is this year so we will be dancing the night away on our new outdoor patio, in our new tropical duds. :) A.k.a. knit comfy-wear. Add comfy slipper-sandals to my new "dress" and what can I say? I've become a semi-retired lady who loves lounging in her cute jammies and slippers at home! And Steve will be comfy in his Hawaii-ish shirt too.

Why not dress up at home like you would in Hawaii?!

We decided against including a water feature in our new Secret Garden, much as I was hankering for the sound and look of a fountain. I love fountains! Reason we decided not to have one? It will attract birds and birds leave you know. And I don't want to be cleaning up you know, not to mention clean-freak me worrying about getting some disease from a bird. Don't worry; I LOVE birds. From afar when I have a zoom lens on my camera to capture their beauty.

That all being said, when I saw this little swan pond water feature and showed it to Steve it was a quick YES! (Steve has told me ever since we were young marrieds the saying "swans mate for life.") The "water effect" in the swan pond is really plastic that's shiny to resemble water but it's really cute in person, especially the mini lily pads. And the faux water looks pretty real!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

I found lots of flower garlands to bring in some color. But I tried not to go overboard with those so that it looked like a wedding pavilion!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Little white lights, I love you!

TRUE STORY: Steve told me, nonchalantly, the day after it happened, that he helped a baby bird out of our new (faux) wisteria tree!

I'm like: "WHAT?! I thought we we trying not to attract birds!"

"He was just learning to fly, so I helped him along a little out of the tree."

ME: "You didn't touch it did you?!" (And I'm thinking: And then hug me!)

Steve just grinned and said: "He was just trying to find shelter from the storm, like everyone else in the world right now."

My husband, and his caring heart of gold, little birds and all.

And NO, he didn't touch the little bird, but "shooed it" towards a live tree in the yard beside us.


Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Evening magic in the Arizona desert!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Did I mention maybe we got just a little bit carried away with lights? :)

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Okay, another fun thing we did was to create this "flower wall" out of several heavy-duty drapes. I was going for a Hawaii feel, what can I say?! Must be because I was born in Honolulu or something. (Before Hawaii even became a state, no less.)

After a trying time with putting up the "flower wall" it worked! There's a cable holding it in place at the bottom, done by none other than Steve who came up with that idea when I said we couldn't have it flapping in the wind.

He likes a challenge, so cable it was!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen Steve Bechen

And then there was another little assembly project for him ...

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

I bought this bar to use not as a bar but to display plants. So, I turned it around to do that, and Steve removed the wine rack that came with it. The top can still be used for food trays if we ever decide to do that. All those plants, as I have mentioned, are faux. I ordered them loose on Amazon and arranged them in the pots by just sticking them in florist foam.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

I bought two palm-themed wooden screens to hide a walkway to our trashcans where Steve stores his bicycle that he locks up back there. The screens are prettier, to me, than the bike view. :) More camouflage decorating!

SIDE NOTE: Steve really secured things as we get strong winds sometimes in AZ as I have mentioned before. As in, our neighbors have had parts of their roofs ripped off and sheds that were in-progress-building have toppled. We have had a storm since we did this project and other than the bar tipping over and having to pick up the plants, everything stayed secure. Yay Steve!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Steve bolted the screens down and painted the bright silver bolts brown to camouflage them.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

The plant stand provides a little privacy from the neighboring RV lot. Faux cactus and succulents weather well on our patio; most of these we have had four years.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

This little green table similar is so nice and sturdy and hides the plastic basket of shoes underneath so they don't have to come in the house. These faux flowers are so pretty in person!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Our drive-by view from the street. Curb appeal with privacy. (This took lots of pre-measuring!) Our white trellis planters are tall. I can no longer find them on Amazon, but here is a similar style that is lower.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

We hid the step storage with a white roll-up shade and floral curtains. They can both just be washed off with the hose. And Steve attached the shade really well to the step as we didn't want it to flop around.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

I love romantic-looking wisteria, faux or no!

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Have I ever mentioned I love the romance of little white lights. :)


Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

Our new painting makes me want to walk right into that adorable little flower shop! Similar style painting.

Secret Garden Kathryn Bechen

I think it's time for me to go have a cold drink in our little Secret Garden, so I am signing off now.

I hope you enjoyed our patio makeover tour!



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