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5/12/16Concrete to Chic: Turn an Alleyway into a Getaway!

This post was created in partnership with Target.
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I’ve lived in many homes (and been to many parties) where the only outdoor area in the home is a narrow alleyway behind or on a side of a house. Normally not much more than a strip of concrete up against a fence, the ally often becomes a place for trash cans and not much else. Well today we’re gonna reclaim it–and transform some under-used space into a little getaway!

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My inspiration comes from two places. First off, the home of Stella and Pedro Alberti Pictured above. We shot their home for The New Bohemians. As you can see in the above pic, they completely transformed the alleyway on the side of their home to function as a full on patio. It’s pretty magical and I haven’t stopped thinking about the untapped potential of alleyways since I first visited the Alberti home.

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My other inspiration is the alleyway behind The Butcher’s Daughter, in Venice (this pic was snapped by my girl, Whitney Leigh Morris). I love the lush living wall, and that fireplace!!?! It’s pretty amazing, right? Also note the cafe lights swagged overhead. So fun.

before-after

So here’s the B&A of our alley. With a few simple pieces, we’ve transformed this little spot from concrete to boho chic :D — and now we’re going to show you how. The same tips can go for small patios, driveways, or any small outdoor space that needs a little TLC.

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Here’s a play-by-play… First up: think about a color palette. For this makeover I decided to go neutral and add highlights of red and pink. If you use neutral colors for the bigger pieces, it’s always easy to switch up the vibe later by switching out accessories. We recovered the chair cushions in a more fun (but still neutral) ikat-printed fabric, and picked a white side-table and an outdoor rug with a simple, subtle pattern. The rug really helps to visually define the ‘patio’ area — so if you’re making over a space in an alley or (unused) driveway, a rug helps to create the feeling of a ‘room.’

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The next thing that we did that made a big difference was to dress the walls. This can be tricky when decorating outdoors, but adding some color onto the fence made such a dramatic difference. I used a vintage kilim runner  as a wall-hanging on the fence and once it was up, it immediately created a focal point for the space.

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Next we layered in accent pillows and, of course, plants. Including pots (and plants!) in different colors adds more visual interest to the alley and helps to break up the white/grey colors that often dominate these spaces.

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Another key ingredient are the cafe lights, and I love these lights with the gold tips that feel kinda retro and let off a really pretty amber glow.

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To further enhance mood in these alleyways, candles are paramount and I’m digging these faceted gold lanterns. They are very versatile and feel boho and modern at the same time.

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And all of the sudden, the neglected alleyway is all ready for some tunes and a few guests. It may not be big, but it is super welcoming, right? Now all we need is a potbelly stove and a jacuzzi :P!!

Photography by Dabito for The Jungalow. (Photo of the Butcher’s Daughter by Whitney Leigh Morris shared with permission).

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Justina Blakeney Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

19 responses to “Concrete to Chic: Turn an Alleyway into a Getaway!”

  1. Lauren Shaw says:

    Hey! I love this post and it has inspired me to jazz up my own concrete backyard. Which chairs are these exactly? I couldn’t find them on the Target site but I really love their shape and color. Thanks!

  2. Jamala says:

    Great job! Simple steps made a big impact! I love the planters. .

  3. carrie burdick says:

    Hi Justina,

    This is great inspiration! I am renting a flat in Amsterdam, we have a small concrete balcony and I have been trying to figure out how to make it feel like an outdoor room. This really helps, now I just need to figure out how to get things onto a concrete wall! As always, such great ideas, thanks! Carrie

  4. Kt says:

    Hey Justina. Love this post! My two favorite things; Jungalow Style and Target Style! Where do you recommend a girl go looking for vintage kilim runners/rugs?

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hey Kt! Definitely look on ebay. Just search “Vintage Kilim Runner” and don’t be afraid of international sellers. You’ll find great deals!

  5. Harini says:

    Hi Justina,

    Wow you are such an inspiration! Love the intimate feel of this cozy boho retreat…heart eyes for every detail! If you don’t mind me asking, where did you find that adorable woven pot shaped planter sitting next to the chair on the right (the orangeish one)? That is too beautiful!

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Thanks so much! I’m kinda obsessed too. I just found it at a random plant shop in Hollywood,. It was pretty dirty (read: vintage) so I’m pretty sure it’s a one off. I love it so much I’m thinking I may find a way to repro them — so stay tuned!

  6. Tara says:

    I was wondering the same thing. I love that pot!

  7. Keila says:

    Wow! What an amazing job!!! Goes to show what a difference attention to details makes! There is beauty everywhere! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

  8. nancy says:

    I love your website! thank you for the inspiration, i finally can put a name on my style “jungalow”. merci!!!!

  9. So enchanting, and I really dig the before/after GIF. Just goes to show how a bit of design gumption can make home styling affordable and fun. Great project!

  10. loz says:

    Maybe it’s because I live in the tropics, I love these outdoor spaces but all I can ever think about is rain on the soft furnishings. Here you would have to leave them inside and only set it up when you were going to use it otherwise they would be destroyed so fast. They wouldn’t even last a wet season and nobody would want to sit on them that’s for sure!

  11. What a lovely article to completely transform your backyard and make it lively and colorful. I can’t resist to make wonderful changes in my backyard too. Thank you for sharing knowledge and ideas.

  12. melissa says:

    I love that wicker planter on the right of the right chair! Where can I find it? I love that setup!

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