Style Expert

Softening Up a Hard Concrete Space

by Brian Patrick Flynn


Small, concrete slab outdoor spaces: Many of us have them, and have not a $#%#$ clue what to do with them. Cladding the concrete with tile seems way to expensive and committal. Who the hell wants to shell out $2k to update the floors of a space they rarely use? Or, in the case of renters, who wants to invest money to make someone else’s property value go up?

To figure out some easy, breezy, non-committal ways to turn a lackluster, hard concrete outdoor space into something personal, vibrant and fun, my team and I spent an afternoon in Sherman Oaks, Ca. at the home of a young entertainment industry couple to whip a neglected area around the corner from a swank pool to good use as a relaxing outdoor lounge. From the multi-purpose seating/storage combination to the use of multiples, check out the Hayneedle items we used to whip the space in to good shape. And when I say whip the space in to good shape, I mean empty three bottles of red wine as the California sun faded (having accidentally drank all the white wine meant for prop styling). Just kidding. Maybe.

Prior to our Hayneedle intervention, the dull, concrete space had nothing to offer.


Just around the corner from a to-die-for swimming pool, the 6X12 area was the perfect candidate for a lounge-like update. Whether in use by lady guests looking to slip into something more cocktail-ish after a swim, or to simply read magazines in the shade in privacy, the colorful space is now a full-functioning outdoor room.




The Fiji Isle All Weather Balcony Set turned the undesirable area into an inviting, comfy place to relax. Its armless style seating (the base is charcoal and the upholstery is a medium grey) makes the area seem even larger since less visual space is used up, and the ottomans open to reveal concealed storage.  I also love its textural value; the juxtaposition of the dark woven strands next to the light wood finish of the privacy screen strikes a great balance. Plus, its all-weather resin wicker construction is easy to clean and the grey upholstery is so resilient, you won’t have to fret about four-footed family members staking their claim on the cushions. Just ask Penny, the bijon frise I may or may not have attempted to take home with me. Just kidding: Penny is a poodle.

Thanks to the Jewels of Java Teak Privacy Screen, there’s now a proper space to change after a dip in the pool. In order to fit the six-foot width of the space perfectly, we used two screens, overlapping them in the center. Aside from its functional use, the screen also works decoratively — bringing a rich, organic texture to the otherwise grey, concrete space.

Californians are all about “organic this” and “green that” — which I kinda like since it’s fun having a planet to live on that has oxygen and stuff like that. To keep organic materials present in the space in order to counterbalance the man-made elements such as resin and acrylic, we stuck with serving trays made from dark wood and iron.

Wood & Iron Serving Trays


Overall, I find the biggest transformation to be the complete vanishing of the nasty concrete. Thanks to two Koko Company Optic Indoor/Outdoor Area Rugs, the focus is now on teal, turquoise and a bold geometric pattern rather than that sad, weathered grey concrete. Here’s a great trick to covering expansive spaces affordably without absorbing any labor costs: use multiple area rugs, matching the repeats up in the same spot, then folding or tucking any overlap along the outside edges of the space along walls. Once the space is furnished, the look of wall-to-wall floor covering is achieved.

 Softening Up a Hard Concrete Space Video


Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV designer/producer; Decor Demon

1 Comment

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  1. This is genius – I love all the color and textures you used!

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