Memorial Day is around the corner, which means summer is officially here, the grills are firing up, and the outdoor patios are beginning to take shape.

We checked in with designer Erin Wheeler of Sunny Circle Studio as she re-designed a tiny backyard in New Orleans. (This charming shotgun-style house is no stranger to us — check out the full home tour here!)

Working with the homeowner, Leigh, Erin wanted this outdoor space to feel modern and luxe but also super relaxed and inviting (after all, it’s NOLA!). With very limited space to work with and a large wooden deck taking up most of the space, Erin had to get creative and find the right balance between small and large pieces. She incorporated as many outdoor plants as possible, taking inspiration from the lush greenery of New Orleans, and utilized modern West Elm outdoor planters for a finished look. Then, she layered in outdoor shades and lights to give added layers and make it feel cozier (plus, outdoor lighting makes it usable for after-hours entertaining!).

The end result is a charming + happy outdoor space that you want to spend hours hanging out in. Take a full tour and hear more from the homeowner below!

Photography + design by Erin Wheeler

Before

After

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Leigh: We are a family of 4, including 2 kids, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. We bought this house as a vacation home, ended up spending a significant amount of time here, and ended up moving here.

What were the 3 main goals you had in mind when designing this outdoor space?

Erin and I wanted it to withstand the frequent downpours New Orleans gets, to be flexible and easy to change with the seasons. We wanted the planters to be modern without being too trendy and wanted the drinkware to be plastic and lightweight so the kids didn’t have to worry about breaking it.

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

Why was having a functional and beautiful outdoor space important for you?

Our house is not huge, so we wanted to create an additional outdoor room we could hang out in. It worked! Since Erin designed our interiors it was ideal for her to do the outdoor space as well so it all flowed. We were really happy she could come down again and work her magic.

What were some of the challenges in designing and decorating your space?

We wanted the backyard to feel lush and green but had concerns about the hot, hot heat of NOLA in the summer. We solved that problem by installing an irrigation system so the beautiful plants and flowers stay happy all summer long!

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

What’s something you would do with this space if you had an unlimited budget and timeline?

A pool to cool off during our hot summers!

What’s your favorite thing about how it turned out?

It fits our personality so well. Relaxed, clean, uncluttered. We have spent a surprising amount of time out there as a family since it was finished.

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

NOLA Outdoor Backyard Design

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