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Our back patio is approximately 48 feet long by 12 feet wide. One end is open and the other end adjoins a wall. Having such a large patio is great on one hand because of the outdoor space it provides. On the other hand, however, that’s a long space to fill up! Our back door leads down onto the patio at about the halfway point. Being an entry way to the outdoor room the patio will eventually be, the steps will naturally bisect the space into two halves. Rather than trying to tie the entire long patio together like some sort of banquet hall, it seems natural to me to make two areas.

The grilling  and main dining area will be on the north, open ended side. The sitting, socializing, and sipping tea or cocktails side will be the southern end with the wall. I thought this a natural set up because aftah all, that’s what we do in the south, we sip sweet tea or cocktails and socialize. Actually, my real reason is that the grill should, of course, go on the open ended side of the patio so that the smoke can waft out and away from the patio, and go up the street to make my neighbors drool.

pationorthACK! Don’t look at the mess. This is why people never see pictures of the north end of the patio when I’m out there taking pictures of the pretty plants. This is the end with the big grey plastic monstrosity holding the pool tools and toys, the grill, and a table where we pot plants. Consider this the before picture and try to imagine an outdoor kitchen and dining area here instead of the current clutter.

patiosouthThis is the south side of the patio, with all the pretty plants, and Belle the barn dog who is currently being employed to keep the rabbits and squirrels from devouring the pretty plants. She’s a bit of a micro-manager when it comes to supervising the projects though. This area and the garage are being used as work spaces for our projects. This patio is closed due to construction

The southern end of the patio has that big blank beige wall, and a tiny door to the master bedroom in the corner. I have planned to build a seating area with two storage benches and two chairs, but I hadn’t decided what to do with the big blank wall. Briefly, I considered painting a mural. Then I remembered that I would have to live with whatever I painted. That caused a cringe. As I was surfing through decorating and DIY websites, I came across the use of mirrors outdoors.

Several years ago a friend gave me a large framed mirror that she could no longer use. I knew I could use it, I just didn’t know where to hang it so that it would reflect anything in my house that I wanted to see twice every time I came in the room. When I saw the patio mirrors on the internet, I knew just what to do with the big blank wall. I can’t just have a big mirror on the wall, so we’re building a small table that I can use to work on the patio projects. Once the patio projects are finished, I will paint the table and place it under the big mirror, and fill it with plants, candles, and whatever pretty stuff I think might be safe there.

patiotablejoiningWe decided on this simple project not only because it is functional and I needed a table, but also because we wanted to practice our pocket hole joinery technique before moving on to more complicated projects. We first pre-drilled all of the necessary pocket holes for the frame boards. After that, joining the pieces went faster than assembling any furniture I’ve ever bought in a box.

patiotableframeThe completed table frame is also much sturdier with our pocket holes than anything I’ve ever put together out of a box. The screws hold fast without using glue!

patiotableWe were going to use pocket holes to attach the table top and the only thing that stopped us, as usual, was that we didn’t have enough screws. Instead, we drilled in from the top to attach the boards. If this had been a project I planned to stain, I’d have probably waited and bought more screws, but because we’re leaving it unfinished to use as a work table and, in the end, will be painted, I’ll just fill the shallow holes around the screws before I sand and paint.

You can find the plans for this project, along with 30 more things to do with 2x4s here: http://www.morelikehome.net/2012/10/day-30-build-2×4-craft-table.html