Fun and Functional Patio Makeover

This patio makeover adds fun and function for the family, grillmaster and the kids! Best of all, the transformation cost just $1,000 in materials.

We’re helping a young couple make over their patio for both fun and function.

Rich and Schaefer Jones share a home with their children, Clem and Ella, and their dog, Pearl — and it shows.  

Schaefer wants their patio to be a warm, cozy place where you feel relaxed and welcome.

The couple have extended the patio, installed a television and ceiling fans, but that’s where they left off, and where we’ll pick up!

We’ll create a work surface for Rich’s grilling tools, surfaces for seating and serving that double as toy storage, and we’ll find an attractive way to screen the late-afternoon sun.

The Projects

Folding counter near barbecue grill outdoors on a cloudy day
This folding grill shelf adds instant storage for the family’s grillmaster — so there’s a place for everything on this patio.

Build a Folding Grill Shelf

Rich will need a work surface for grilling, and we know there will be plenty of barbecues, hamburgers and steaks in this family’s future, so they’ll need more storage.

This folding grill shelf is versatile because Richard can pull it down when he needs it and push it up to save space.

WATCH: ‘How to Build a Folding Counter for Your Grill’

Danny Lipford and Rich build a cedar buffet
This buffet will double as a cabinet for storing the kids’ toys.

Build a Cabinet

Rich and Shaefer love sharing their patio with their children, but they also want the option to enjoy it without the sight of kids’ toys all the time.

So, we’ll build a cabinet to keep toys out of sight when the time’s right!

We join two pieces of cedar to form each leg of the cabinet. Then we join the legs to each other with a framework of 2-by-2’s. Then we cut plywood for the back and bottom.

Later, Chelsea and Schaefer seal the cabinet with TotalBoat’s Lust High-Gloss Marine Varnish. It’s made for boats, so it’s perfect for something that will be exposed to the elements.

Better yet, it’ll bring out the cedar’s grain and color, and keep it looking as natural as possible.

Danny Lipford cuts cedar for a window seat as Rich Jones looks on
Danny makes cuts for the next project: a built-in window seat.

Build a Window Seat

Rich and Schaefer want to have additional comfortable seating, so we’re building a window seat out of — what else? — attractive cedar to match the folding counter!

Danny Lipford scores a concrete floor
Scoring the patio adds a decorative element and it prevents cracks.

Score the Patio

It’s time to score the patio and for that, we’ll use a diamond-tip blade on a circular saw to cut a small score joint.

It’s really for decorative purposes to divide the patio into four distinct areas. But there’s an added benefit: When you have score joints, you probably won’t have surface cracks.

Remember, concrete cracks if it doesn’t have some way to expand and contract.

Stained blue concrete patio

Stain the Patio

Rich and Schaefer have two separate patios that were poured at two different times. (The patio that came with their home, and the extension they added.)

Staining the patio ties these patios together and makes this project look finished.

It’s not uncommon for dark paints and stains to look bluer in the can than they look as they dry. As the stain dried, Schaefer started to see the color she’d wanted.

After we stain the patio, Rich takes a spin on the lawnmower and shares his favorite feature of Exmark Mowers: the lawn heights, which include 1/4-, ½- and ¾-inch increments for precise cutting.

Outdoor curtains made from drop cloths

Hang Drop Cloth Curtains

The sunlight can really put a damper on Rich and Schaefer’s afternoons — it beats down right on their patio.

Instead of hanging curtains, we dye some drop cloths for an inexpensive curtain treatment that the couple can open and close as the sun sets and rises.

WATCH: How to Dye Drop Cloths for Patio Curtains

Post-Production Thoughts

The patio on Rich and Schaefer’s home had plenty of space, but not very much character. There was no storage space for the kids’ toys — only a few seating options and no surfaces for entertaining.

Now, the patio has a completely different feel. The kids’ toys are stored away, out of sight, and pieces that house them provide the family with plenty of comfortable seating and a serving area for entertaining.

The folding grill table is the very definition of functionality, but it’s also attractive.

The deep, clear-coat finish on its cedar top, the window seat and the buffet cabinet all add character that was missing in this space.

And we did it all for about $1,000 in materials.

Further Reading


  1. Post the directions of building the buffet. Beautiful job on making a more inviting area on patio for family to hang out. Being an amateur, I need more info on building that buffet.

    • Hi, Rose,
      Glad you enjoyed this project! We don’t have individual/customized plans available for distribution.
      However, we hope this project inspired you, and we recommend checking Pinterest and YouTube for detailed plans of buffets that will work in your outdoor space.
      Take care!

  2. I would appreciate you contact me in regards to a possible tile patio vamping it up to be something special for entertainment it’s small space and an older home so I don’t wanna spend a lot of money but whatever input you can give me or provide for me to do the work I would greatly appreciate a higher this out thank you


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