Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard!

With the extreme temperatures and polar vortex conditions many of us are shivering through, dreaming of balmier spring-like days spent in our French courtyard feels right! My sweet private sanctuary (at the entrance to our home, sited on a woodsy hill in a country-ish neighborhood of larger homes) was once an eyesore which still somehow attracted me to the property back in 2015 as we shopped for just the right fixer upper. It looked anything but French inspired, timeless, or tranquil! The courtyard was wildly overgrown with shrubs, weeds, and grass and shouted STAY AWAY! Yet we knew we could make it special. Get ready for Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard!

Grey rattan chair with ivory cushion on front porch. Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #rattanchair
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Find this rattan patio chair HERE. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard!

You know I’ll always give it to you straight and not lead you to believe a complicated renovation project was easier than it actually was. So let me tell you, this was one of the easiest transformations we have ever tackled!

BEFORE

Truly! When you like a light and airy landscape look and you have a low budget anyway, SUBTRACTION is your friend, kittycats. And subtract is just what we did.

Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard…How We Did It!

The only original thing we left in place was the burning bush on the right near the front door.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
AFTER.
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

Everything was weeded and cleared away before we laid landscape fabric and planted boxwood and lavender. Then we arranged the outdoor wood furniture I snagged for a song from a friend’s moving sale and painted with a custom mix of FARROW & BALL whites (which are actually putty greys).

Thrifty Courtyard Ingredients

In came the gravel and a few containers, and out went the eroded stone wall tops. While I came up with this checkbook-friendly temporary solution of $.94 cement 12″ x 12″ pavers to replace the top, they have not yet been replaced with real stone yet! Too many other projects needed our attention!

Our rustic knotty alder door with speakeasy. #hellolovelystudio #alderdoor
Hello Lovely Studio.

Rustic Alder Front Door for French Farmhouse Charm

The upgraded front door made such a huge difference, and it is a rustic knotty alder door with a walnut finish, clavos, and a speakeasy. I sort of mix it up as far as decor for the front porch. Sometimes, I’ll have my pretty rattan chairs out here, sometimes it’s one of my Tolix-style metal industrial French chairs, and sometimes it’s a vintage Mid Century Modern bamboo chair I love. I have a thing for chairs so there are plenty of options!

Here’s the planter box I chose to flank the front door, and I actually paid more than the Wayfair price for them…they are longwearing and so chic.

French Touches in the French Courtyard

The ornate French mirror hung above one of my benches is slightly unexpected and enhances the courtyard by helping it feel more like an outdoor room. This mirror has been in at least five other places over the years in several of our homes.

The small lumbar pillow is RH, and the large one is discontinued, Grandin Road.

You may also notice in the image below that I used those “less-than-a-buck” cement pavers throughout the courtyard in the gravel.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

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More Finishing Touches in the Garden Courtyard

We have since added a little black iron gate to the opening to the courtyard. It was an inexpensive on the shelf gate we found at Menard’s as a temporary solution (we’re both dreaming of a custom rustic reclaimed wood arched door!) until we build something special.

Turns out lavender does not care to grow in this courtyard so out it went, and in came containers with herbs and a mix of blue blooms.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Hello Lovely Studio.

See the Project in Progress

Below, is a look at how things were looking as we cleared the weeds and imagined a more functional use of the space. The trees in front of the courtyard buffer us from the quiet street below. Rustic stone steps up the hill create a charming path to our front door.

BEFORE

Here is how it looks without containers…very spare and peaceful.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

French-y Imperfection & Unfussy Ease, Please

I have a collection of old galvanized watering cans and buckets I use and often leave in a heap like this. Little chipmunks and birds find uses for them and shelter this way.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Hello Lovely Studio

The teak 3-legged stools are my favorite, and I bring them in after the fall and use them inside.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

How I Use This Courtyard

The French courtyard gets southern exposure so it’s the perfect spot to soak up the rays, commune with the birds, and collect your thoughts.

BEFORE
French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
AFTER
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

The big burning bush you see above and below is healthy now and turns that lovely crimson!

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Hello Lovely Studio

Stenciled French Mirror in Garden

The mirror above with the etched look is actually just a salvaged mirror leftover from the demo of a bathroom here which I stenciled with this incredible French script stencil (it is a poem about spring). The beauty of this particular stencil and project is that the stencil is huge so it takes no time at all to roll a little paint over it and wind up with a big impact.

The birds love to admire their beauty in the mirror, and we quietly gaze at them mirror-gazing from inside the house!

BEFORE
French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
AFTER
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

A Rotation of Chairs on the Porch

Here’s the rattan chair I alluded to earlier. I love the grey tone which is so chic and perfect with the quiet tones I favor.

Grey rattan chair with ivory cushion on front porch. Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #rattanchair
Find this patio chair HERE. Hello Lovely Studio.

Below, I have placed them on the back patio which we rarely use since it is so shady on the North side of our home.

Calm and serene interiors at our fixer upper which we renovated entirely ourselves. #hellolovelystudio #interiordesign #calm #spare #serene
Find my patio chairs RIGHT HERE. Hello Lovely Studio.

One of the most gratifying things about this French courtyard for me is how it incorporates the collection of things I love: grainsack pillows, vintage galvanized cans, old mirrors, painted furniture, chairs, and quiet color.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

A Spacious Low-Maintenance Versatile Outdoor Room

As you can see, there are two seating areas, and I have even brought out a rustic farm table and set it in the center for a little summer get together. It’s a blessing to have this much space for an outdoor room!

White farm table set for a party in my French Courtyard. Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio.
French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Hello Lovely Studio
French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Hello Lovely Studio. Vintage grainsack pillow: SassycatCreations
BEFORE
French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
AFTER
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio. Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

More French Courtyard Glimpses

The photo above was taken before we installed our video intercom door bell.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
Hello Lovely Studio. I loved that burlap Bonjour pillow, but it had to be tossed since it weathered a few seasons! I haven’t yet found another one but will let you know!

Here’s a small burlap pillow cover that has a French farmhouse feel.

French country courtyard with stone walls, pea gravel, boxwood, lavender, wood furniture, and vintage touches. Come see the before and after of our project on Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #gardeninspiration #renovation
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French Courtyard Shopping Finds

I have a vintage French wire basket just like this INSIDE my home, and I think it would be right at home outdoors to store any number of things!

Vintage reproduction collapsible French Wire Basket.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.
Stephenie Wooden Garden Bench
. Stephenie Wooden Garden Bench
Stephenie Plaid Patio Dining Chair
Stephenie Patio Dining Chair.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.
Blue French Stripe Pillow Cover
18″ x 18″ Blue French Stripe Pillow Cover.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.
Stephenie Diamond Patio Dining Chair
Stephenie Diamond Patio Dining Chair.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.
Hatten Acacia Wood Garden Bench
Hatten Acacia Wood Garden Bench.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

Here’s a closer look at the weave…

Detail of cotton throw.
Lutyens Wooden Garden Bench
Lutyens Wooden Garden Bench.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.
Metal Watering Can
Metal Watering Can.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.
Metal Watering Can
Metal Watering Can.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.
Patrick Bonjour Doormat
Bonjour Door Mat.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

You could tuck a little fresh lavender or this…

Faux Lavender.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

into this…!

12″ x 24″ Thankful Burlap Pillow Cover.
Spring Decor: Before and After French Courtyard! Score ideas for garden inspiration and a French Country courtyard from our renovation project. Pea gravel, galvanized containers, boxwood, lavender, rustic decor, wood furniture, mirrors, and vintage treasures create a charming outdoor room.

Read THIS POST overflowing with kindness if you haven’t already!

St. Francis peace prayer. Hello Lovely Studio.
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Are you dreaming of springtime and stretches of quiet time in a courtyard or park with the bees and butterflies?

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

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16 Comments

  1. Kathy
    February 3, 2019 / 8:41 am

    Wow! Just beautiful, Michele! What a difference! You’ve got me dreaming about making some changes come spring!

    • michele
      Author
      February 3, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      Yay! It’s the perfect time to dream and anticipate the spring! 🙂

  2. Sandra Hinds
    February 3, 2019 / 9:01 am

    What an amazing transformation! It is so beautiful! I’d been looking at pea gravel and have not seen the whitish colors that you have. Do you mind telling me the name/source of the pea gravel?

    • michele
      Author
      February 3, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      It is small river rock pebbles – we bought it locally from S&H Nursery.

  3. Joanna
    February 3, 2019 / 10:27 am

    It feels like a peaceful oasis.

    • michele
      Author
      February 3, 2019 / 4:50 pm

      When the temperature warms a little more, I’ll give it a winter shoot! Thanks so much. 🙂

  4. Ann
    February 3, 2019 / 12:07 pm

    I made a Pinterest board but I can’t figure out how to save this great post to read again. It just shows me individual items. Can you help?

    • michele
      Author
      February 3, 2019 / 4:46 pm

      Hi! You can choose any image to pin and the link to the post will accompany the image. When you go back to your board, and click on the image, you’ll have the option to “visit” the post. Hope this helps, and thanks so much!

  5. February 4, 2019 / 12:01 am

    Michele,
    Your updated front courtyard is filled with French-inspired elements I love. Pea gravel is at the top of my list of how to create a French Country look in a garden. My driveway in the countryside has been pea gravel from day one, over 30 years ago. We have had to add pea gravel a couple of times over the years, but not a complete re-do of the driveway.

    Judith

    • michele
      Author
      February 4, 2019 / 4:34 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words. I love a pea gravel driveway! So charming in the country. We will have to add some pea gravel to our courtyard in the spring to refresh it, and it has been a pleasure living with it!

  6. February 8, 2019 / 12:06 pm

    Michele,
    I need to check in on Hemp oil and that chocolate bar. I wish I had time to make many of the fabulous project ideas that are posted. Thanks for stopping by Thursday Favorite Things. I love how you transformed your outside patio. What an amazing transformation. You must love sitting out there.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Hugs,
    Bev

    • michele
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 12:49 am

      An easy makeover as DIY renovations go for sure – thanks so much for the kind words, Bev. xox

  7. February 11, 2019 / 1:14 pm

    Michele, I love it all!! Your Frech Country yard transformation is simply beautiful! I’m so glad you linked this one up. Thank you so much for sharing with us at the TFT party and thank you for your oh-so-kind comments. I really am starting to look forward to everything you do and say each week!! pinning and probably featuring you again next week. I’ll try to pop back over and let you know ahead of time! God be with you, sweet lady.
    ps. I grew up singing that version of St Francis’ prayer. Fond memories. 🙂
    Hugs back xo
    Theresa

    • michele
      Author
      February 11, 2019 / 1:57 pm

      Yay! I’d like to hear you sing this prayer in my courtyard, Theresa. I’m so glad I found your TFT party so we could visit each other. Blogging gets lonely, yes? xox

  8. February 13, 2019 / 3:33 pm

    Your courtyard is beautiful! Thanks for sharing with Thursday Favorite Things! I’ll be featuring you tomorrow! Angelina @ Petite Haus

    • michele
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 4:20 pm

      Thank you soooooo much, Angelina. Your blog is so beautiful, and I’m so flattered! 🙂

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