This tired patio was transformed into a dreamy al fresco spot with second hand buys

From uninviting to enticing

A smart DIY fan transformed her old uninviting patio into a stunning alfresco space on a shoe-string budget.

If you're after some inspiration for an unattractive patio or garden ideas, then look no further than this dramatic makeover. Laura Higham from East Sussex turned her overgrown patio into a show-stopping outdoor space, with hardly any outside help.

Keen to take on the transformation without enlisting a landscape gardener, Laura began by thinking about what it was she wanted from the space. 'It’s really important to consider what you want to achieve, how you want the space to work for you and what you’re going to use it for,' she says.

outdoor space with white umbrella shade and plants in pots

(Image credit: Laura Higham)

Budget was also a key factor, with the family keeping costs down by doing a lot of the work themselves. 'From cutting down small trees to taking up the old patio and digging out the beds surrounding it, we did it all,' Laura continues.

'This allowed us to invest our money in items that we knew would be essential for our social space.'

Rattan patio makeover


The patio was a little lacklustre, with unmatched paving and bland grey fencing – it was definitely in need of an overhaul!

'I started by getting some inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram,' says Laura, 'and we even visited National Trust gardens to help us build a solid framework of our concept.'

outdoor space with wooden chairs and exposed brick walls

(Image credit: Laura Higham)

'It's also important to think about the overall space, as well as elements such as how the sun hits your garden,' Laura continues.

'For instance, would you want your seating area to be in the sun for evening dining or prefer a shaded option? It’s crucial you consider these points before you begin the work so you don’t encounter any costly changes.'

With the planning and manual labour done, it was time to start buying furniture and accessories.


The previously unloved space has now been transformed into a spot that's ideal for family lunches and cosy autumn evenings spent outside. The space is filled with smart patio ideas that are laidback and inviting.

outdoor space with white umbrella shade and plants in pots

(Image credit: Laura Higham)

'I wanted the garden to reflect the same style as we have in the home so that everything flowed well and felt connected,' said Laura.

'I love bringing the outside indoors with natural, rustic elements and textures, lots of wood, neutral colour palettes and textiles. Therefore, I wanted to take that back out into the garden. We've added lots of garden planters and flowers to soften the space, and then pattern and texture within the seating space.

The garden furniture was given a serious overhaul, now everyone has a space to sit. All the furniture came from Luxury Rattan.

With the furniture her main investment, Laura was keen to save pennies where she could and so chose secondhand accessories to ensure her garden has a unique look.

outdoor space with plants in pots and sofaset with cushions

(Image credit: Laura Higham)

'As we wanted our space to feel relaxed and laidback, we opted for vintage additions in the form of planters and pots to create a rustic and informal feel,' she says.

'Antique stores and eBay are ideal for these, while vintage furniture sellers on Instagram (such as @shop_wallis) take the hassle out of sourcing antique finds.'

The new space couldn't be more different and has been enjoyed by the family throughout the summer. It just goes to show what can be achieved with some good planning, smart buys and hard work, you'll have extra pennies to invest in your dream furniture set!

Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at