Backyard Patio Retreat: The Base


After some time away to recharge, I'm back with an exciting project!  I've teamed up with Hobby Builders Supply/ miniatures.com to create a summer scene featuring a few outdoor items from their catalogue.

This in-depth weekly series will take you through my build from start to finish as I create a modern miniature deck and patio space.   I've done my best to use accessible materials and tools as well as provide tutorials and tips throughout (from faux finishes to electrical).  This is probably my most step-by-step build-a-long yet!  Today we're starting with the base of the build with the structure, the stairs, and flooring.



I personally like to start by selecting the furniture and visualizing the space before any walls go up in my projects.  Sometimes I do a sketch, but usually, I use Photoshop or a similar program to copy and paste images of my structural elements and furniture I like.  I knew I wanted a split level design with some sort of hot tub or pool and an eating area.  I searched miniatures.com's outdoor items and copied and pasted the product photos I liked into a college.


I already own a bunch of outdoor small accessories in my collection, so I tried to think of what would really tie together a scene.   In the end, I selected the patio furniture because it has a modern feel and wasn't too cottagey.   I really liked how it had lots of pieces to choose from and was the same colour as the planters I already owned.  (In a future post I'll share some more close-ups of the texture on these wicker pieces!)  Don't they look great?!

Once everything arrived,  I made a mock-up with foamboard. This step always helps keep me from wasting more expensive material in the long run.  I quickly realized the scale of my lounge chair didn't quite work with my small hot tub/pool idea.  I needed to make the pool bigger and move it, which took a couple of tries. 



The stairs were the first thing I put together.  It was much easier to make the second level fit the height of the stairs, versus adding on stairs later and trying to get them to fit.  They were made from 5/8" high wood I cut into blocks.  I used Arlene's Tacky Glue to secure them.


The base was made of 1/4" MDF and cut on a table saw. The entire project sits on a 24"x24" 1/4" thick piece.  I left the back section of the supports open so I could access underneath for electrical components.

Using a jigsaw I created a notch in the corner of the top deck for the stairs to recess into.  The large open space on the right is open for the pool.



The pool is a separate component from the base.  This made it easier to work with and add paint/finishes.




I cut out lots of planters at different heights to go around the deck and in front with more 1/4" MDF.




For the flooring, I went with a large roll of Birch Veneer from Home Depot.  The grain is minimal and easy to stain.  I used this technique with the floor in my first laser cut Modern Kitchen Roombox.  However to save time I used my laser cutter to cut long strips 3/8" wide.  TIP You can use a simple scrapbooking slider paper cutter to cut out long flooring strips too.  The most important part is to find a good veneer with minimal grain, that way it won't split when you cut it.  You can read about that diy floorboard cutting technique here.

I used a handheld mitre tool to cut my strips to size (highly recommend this tool!) and Arlene's Tacky glue to secure my pieces. It was essential to place a heavy book on top while they dried to prevent warping.




I made pavers for the lower level from 1/16 Balsa, using the scrapbooking slider paper cutter to cut 2"x2" squares.  Balsa is very easy to cut with a knife or paper cutter.




Check back next week as I share the next steps in finishing the deck, adding in some cool structural elements and get to work on the pool.  I've got a great deck light tutorial in the works and some ways to elevate these patio pieces in future posts too.

Bring on the sunshine!



(This series is sponsored by Hobby Builders Supply miniatures.com.  Lots of cool modern patio and garden minis will be featured!)

26 comments

  1. I shall love to see your work on the patio.
    Hugs, Drora

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Drora! I haven't really done much outdoor mini work and have really enjoyed this build!

      Delete
  2. Has hecho un trabajo fenomenal hasta ahora.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this! I thought the balsa pavers were tile at first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sheila! It took a while to figure out what to make those tiles out of. I've actually been avoiding painting those because I'm worried the balsa is going to warp. I think I'll glue them down tomorrow, putting on some heavy books and then try painting... :)

      Delete
    2. Yeah I'm not sure what would prevent that. My first instinct is to modge podge them and then add primer and then your paint...but I'm still not sure if that would work.

      Delete
    3. I'll try a test tomorrow and see how it goes. Fran had great advice to paint both sides to prevent warping! So I'll do that and let you know. I'm not attached to these balsa pieces, they were just quick and easy to cut so if I need to I'll switch. Thanks for your thoughts!

      Delete
  4. Me gusta mucho el diseño de la estructura del patio y los elementos que irán en él!
    Besos.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a very interesting project! I love the furniture. I'm looking forward to seeing the next posts.
    Geneviève

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I do really love the patio furniture I got too! I can't wait to show everything together!

      Delete
  6. This is where I suggest something that I haven't a clue if it would work...how about oil pastels for colouring the slabs? That wouldn't warp the wood. I have never used them but have seen someone's blog who does use them for stonework.... no idea who now of course. M

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The oil pastels are such a fantastic idea! Thank you! I'm going to try a few tests tomorrow with some paint and then maybe some pastels if I can find them. :)

      Delete
  7. kristine, your workmanship is great! Now I am looking forward to see how you are going to paint all this... without the balsa warping ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Marion! I was able to glue first and paint second and the basla didn't warp yipee!

      Delete
  8. I can see why you're having so much fun with this great project! I can't wait to see it all come together - it's going to be amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is looking amazing! I'm always in awe of you properly cut wood and mitered corners (as I am a wood filler abuser!). If only this patio existed in real life....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kat! That hand held mitre cutter tool really makes it much easier. Now that I think of it, you're right I didn't need wood filler. Wow that's a first!

      Delete
  10. This looks amazing already Kristine. I love how the large block planters are incorporated into the structure of the area. Looking forward to seeing this project progress :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Pepper! You know it was only supposed to be a couple planters and they just kept growing in size! I love the way they anchor the space. Now I just need to find enough plants to fill them :)

      Delete
  11. Wow! Your patio is amazing.

    ReplyDelete