We're Maryal and Chris Carter, the crazy-in-love couple behind the blog and the specs. Our love of chambray and mutual blurred vision unites us, and this is where we share our adventures in love, style, food, DIY and so much more, seen through our bespectacled eyes. Thanks for joining our journey!

Our Backyard Patio Pergola Project: The Full Reveal!

Our Backyard Patio Pergola Project: The Full Reveal!

I feel like I always say this whenever we complete a project and it comes together so beautifully, but I don’t care - I’m throwing caution to the wind and going to be so bold as to say that this may be my favorite space transformation that has ever happened at our house. EVER! In case you missed it, we introduced this epic backyard pergola project to you guys last week in this post here on the blog. Today we’re beyond thrilled to show you the finished space with the stunning Leisure Time Products Sahara Pergola fully installed and dressed up, and to take you through the easier-than-easy process that took this backyard from a regular old, less-than-impressive outdoor living space to the most magical, cottage-perfect backyard oasis in just one awesome day, simply by adding one stunning centerpiece - the pergola of our dreams!

Even more awesome? We captured the entire day, from start to finish, in the video above and even included some really fun design insights and details that we didn’t included here in the blog post! So make sure you give it a watch to see how we, along with this gorgeous new pergola, breathed new life into this space in just one super fun (and hilarious) day!


We mentioned last week that we’d long dreamed of integrating a pergola into our backyard design plan to serve as a versatile focal point for entertaining and activities of all kinds, but as is the case with so many home projects we’ve daydreamed about, for a long time the project felt really intimidating. We had so many hangups like finding the right pergola in size and style for our space, cost, the installation process and finding the info we needed to make our vision come to life in a way that we felt really good about. We ruled out the DIY route right away because we knew we’d be out of our depth and in the end, the trial and error would probably leave us with a lackluster structure and cost us more than professional delivery and installation when all was said and done. Hey, at least we know our limitations! A project like this is too big and too important to the overall design of our backyard to be tackled by amateurs like us. But that left us out on a limb, searching for the perfect pergola to have professionally installed with no idea where to turn. Where do we buy such a thing? How can we get the most value? Will installation take a few hours or a million years? So. Many. Questions. That is until we stumbled upon the dreamiest, ultra-sturdy, pre-stained cedar pergola, the Leisure Time Products Sahara Pergola, and found out that it could be ordered right from 55 The Home Depot store locations all around Phoenix (they even have one on display outside of our neighborhood The Home Depot here in Arcadia so we could get a peek at it prior to installation), and that the Leisure Time Products team would seamlessly coordinate a quick and easy one-day install so we wouldn’t have to lift a finger!


Left: Before | Right: After

And as a recap for those of you who missed last week’s post and to give you a totally realistic idea of what we’re talking about, the Leisure Time Products Sahara Pergola that we had installed in our backyard and its BFF, the Sonora Gazebo (it’s a little bit bigger than our pergola and has a durable steel roof) are both available for purchase at Home Depot in more than 55 Phoenix-area locations, and with delivery and installation included cost $2,499 and $3,499 respectively, which we can safely say after all our research, all-in for a project and pergola of this caliber is some serious value.

And if you’re in the same boat - dreaming about adding the perfect pergola (or gazebo) to your backyard design plan, but are intimidated by the prospect of this project - here’s how it all works so you can stop searching and finally make it a reality:

1.         Simply head to your local The Home Depot store to purchase (if you’re in the Phoenix metropolitan area there are 55 locations to choose from, so there’s bound to be one close by).

2.         Two or three days later just give Leisure Time Products a ring to coordinate delivery and installation on a day that’s most convenient for you.

3.         The pergola will be delivered and installed on the day you select! And as an FYI, it only took the install team 2 hours from start to finish at our house. How amazing is that?


All of that means you’ll have zero time between the delivery and install period with a yard full of messy materials for weeks on end, which was a huge draw for us. Here in Phoenix, outdoor living is king and part of what makes living here so special, so we utilize our backyard space daily for so many things, so living in a construction zone in our backyard for days or even weeks would have been unbearable. Luckily the materials are already in the Phoenix area in a dedicated warehouse, which means nothing needs to be shipped! Fuss free, my friends. Fuss free. Which is exactly why we’re now sitting here enjoying a gorgeous new pergola in our backyard instead of putting this project on the back burner for another few years. Happy dance! 


Speaking of gorgeous, once our install was complete we got right to work on dressing this beautiful blank canvas up and adding all of the romantic, cottage-inspired decor to make the space shine and get it ready for a fun little cocktail hour with some of our favorite neighborhood friends, and man oh man was this a treat to dream up and decorate! In last week’s post on the blog we unveiled our design plan for our pergola and I have to say, our vision came to life even more beautifully than we’d hoped to create the most enchanting backdrop not only for gatherings of all kinds, but about a thousand more events, occasions and activities that I can’t wait to dream up and enjoy in this space. Actually, as I write this I’m currently snuggled up at this very table underneath the perfect amount of shade thanks to our pretty pergola, with the most amazing breeze blowing through and some Leon Bridges playing on those outdoor speakers we recently rehabbed (if you missed those hilarious Instagram Stories, they’re in my Home + DIY highlights for your viewing pleasure). 

The possibilities for this pergola are seriously endless, though, which is pretty much all my backyard design-loving dreams come true. And though we haven’t hung them just yet, as you saw in our pergola design plan last week we have big plans for hanging wood planters in the corners of the pergola to round out the space, which will make it even more dreamy here, if that’s even possible! So much goodness

And as promised last week, below is a detailed breakdown of all of the decor elements we included in the space and design decisions we made along the way so you know why we included each element, how we styled all of it to create the perfect tranquil mix and how you can tackle this entire project with ease in your own backyard, too!

The Perfect Patio Table

We’ve had this old patio table set since we moved into this house and it’s served us so well, worn like a total cottage-perfect champ, and now serves as the perfect complement to the pretty cedar pergola, so it stayed! It’s always served as a great versatile blank canvas and now that the pergola gives it a frame with more dimension and more opportunity to layer, play and incorporate some really cool, cozy, cottage-inspired elements, it really shines! We also love that the size accommodates lots of guests without feeling too big for snuggled-up morning coffee hangs with just the two of us. Though this exact patio set is no longer available, what makes this pergola so perfect and such a versatile addition to the backyard space is that it would elevate and enhance the look and feel of almost any outdoor dining table you placed underneath it, so the possibilities are kind of endless! 

Hanging Lanterns

This is one of the pergola décor details that I’m most excited about and have been dreaming up ever since we started planning the pergola space – rustic, natural fiber, woven hanging lanterns that warm up the entire space by candlelight and give it that really cozy, charming cottage vibe. One of the things I love so much about adding a pergola to a backyard space is that the “purlins”, or beams that you see across the top, give you the ability and versatility to hang pretty things like lights, planters and fun decorations of all kinds, for all occasions, which is a big part of the reason I say that a pergola really frames a space and sets the stage for almost any activity you can dream of. I searched and search for the perfect large woven rattan or seagrass lanterns to bring the vision to life and I landed on these because the size mixed with the style is just pure cottage-cool magic!

String Lights (i.e. Twinkle Lights!)

One of the first things we did, décor-wise when we bought this house was install the dreamiest little string lights, or as I lovingly call them “twinkle lights” in the pine trees in our backyard, and I maintain that it was one of the best décor decisions we’ve ever made in this house. They illuminate the backyard with the softest, warmest ambient light and again, make it feel so cozy, unlike harsh flood lights. And now that we’ve lived with them for many a year, I’ve decided that twinkle lights are a key ingredient in the recipe for backyard magic, and the pergola is pretty much the most perfect twinkle light backdrop there ever was. This one’s a no-brainer in my opinion and will make the pergola space so inviting and absolutely perfect for intimate gatherings and snuggling up. And because the addition of twinkle lights into the pergola space wasn’t even a question, we picked these outdoor string lights up at The Home Depot the second we scheduled install. And what’s really awesome about them is that they’re insanely easy to install thanks to the little pre-fabbed rubber holes they sit in the chord above each light because they’re ready for screws or nails without any extra work on your part! For the part of the chord that runs between each purlin, you can use these little cable clips to attach that to the pergola. The 8mm is the size of the clip that fits the chord for these lights.

Romantic, Casual, Cottage-Inspired Tabletop Decor 

We were so excited to create a tablescape in this space that all of our romantic cottage dreams are made of! Without the pergola, we could always decorate the table for special events and occasions, but it never really felt “done”. The pergola elevates the style of the space so much because it frames the table and gives the overall look so much more dimension and texture. Game. Changer. Unsurprisingly, we went with a really fresh, fun, tranquil pink, seafoam and white palette for our cocktail hour and dinner party tablescape, and added in tons of and natural textures and materials to ground all of it. Again, I love the idea of incorporating all kinds of natural elements and woven textures in an outdoor living space because it helps the space blend in with its natural surroundings, i.e. the great outdoors and feel like it was always there… or at least like it always should have been there.  All of the sources for the pieces you see on our tabletop are linked below!

Bubble Highball Glass | Woven Napkin Ring | Natural Seagrass Lanterns | Pink Shibori Napkins | White Dotted Salad Plate | White Dotted Dinner Plate | White Vase w/ Rattan Accents | Water Hyacinth Placemat | Wood Citronella Candle 


A Nontraditional Centerpiece

Sure floral centerpieces are always lovely and we utilize them all the time, but though we incorporated some (slightly dramatic… in the best way) floral elements into this tabletop scene, we were so excited to try a more nontraditional centerpiece on the tabletop by using the coolest seagrass lanterns/votives! Not only do these coordinate so well with the hanging lanterns, they serve as another dreamy source of soft, ambient light to illuminate the space. Plus, it’s such an easy alternative to a floral arrangement! Plus, we can also use these over and over again and move them around to mix it up in the future. 

Natural Fiber Rug to Ground the Space

If you have a large, concrete patio like we do, the fastest way to warm it up and soften the cold, stark look of the concrete is to simply add a cozy rug! And just as a little trick - if you’re worried about the wear and tear over time, even if the rug is outdoor-approved, do as we do and use whatever rug you like, then just roll it up and store it away when you don’t need it! Because of our big pine trees in our backyard, we get tons and tons of debris of all kinds landing on our patio, so to avoid frustration and heartbreak, we simply roll our rugs out when we have guests or a gathering and roll it back up and store it away to keep it nice and fresh when it’s not in use. And yes, it’s totally worth the minimal effort that takes, in our mind. Store it under the bed, if you’re short on other storage space!

Pillows & Blankets for Softness & Support

One of my very favorite outdoor living space tricks is to add fluffy pillows to chairs and benches to add coziness, softness and of course, support. And just like your rug, you don’t necessarily need to exclusively use outdoor pillows for this purpose if you have indoor pillow styles you love for the space! Indoor pillows are usually softer and fluffier, anyways so you can simply store them inside in between uses and bring them out to the space as needed. We love breaking all the outdoor living rules over here! All of the pillows you see in the space are linked below.

Striped Outdoor Pillow | Pink Dot Tassel Pillow | Green Dot Pillow | Mint & Pink Geometric Pillow

We hope you love this transformation as much as we do, and that it inspires pergola daydreams of your own! And don’t forget that if you ever have questions about the spaces, sources or process for any of our home projects, make sure you drop us a comment, send us a DM or simply shoot us an email and we’ll make sure we get back to you ASAP! Happy backyard hangin’, friends! 

Thank you so much to Leisure Time Products, a brand we absolutely love, for sponsoring this post. As is always the case with partnerships featured here on the blog, all opinions are our own.

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