Designer transforms drab League City patio into a space bursting with color
League City resident Ilse Benard was a guest participant this year in the One Room Challenge, an online space where designers encourage each other and hold each other accountable as they finish one room in their own homes.
Benard, a designer who lives in League City and owns Galveston-based Staged for Perfection, accepted the challenge, which was launched by designer Linda Weinstein in 2011. Benard’s challenge? Transform her drab, beige patio into a vivid, textured space that’s eye-catching and unconventional.
“I want the back porch to be eclectic in the feel and to actually create an outdoor room,” Benard said earlier this year as she began the project.
Over eight weeks, she blogged about her progress, including small changes to her initial plans. She added a ceiling fan in the place of an ugly light fixture. She experimented with shades of blue.
Then, this summer, Benard revealed her completed project on the One Room Challenge site.
Her small backyard turned into an explosion of color and cohesion of shapes. The turquoise roof of the patio and the oversized turquoise vase in the new garden set a calm tone against the green grass and oak trees.
The garden attracts butterflies, birds and bees, Benard said. That’s intentional, too.
“Most of the plants are native,” she said. “Some are evergreen and many are perennials. I added a water fountain, as I find that soothing.”
The blue-white-and-black geometric designs on the floor of Benard’s patio pop with so much life, they appear at first to be raised sculptures of some sort. But the cement tiles are flat and smooth, although the color that seeps into the tile tricks the eye.
Laura Flora, who owns Beyond Floors in Webster along with her husband, Johnny Flora, helped Benard choose the right tiles.
“It was so fun to see her ideas for colors, materials and paint come together,” Laura Flora said.
A long, rectangular wood table makes the small patio seem even larger. Bright colors and more geometric shapes cover the tablecloth from South Africa. It’s all at home in the Texas backyard.
Benard is from South Africa. She left in 1986 to travel, then to work, and eventually found her way to the Houston area and then Galveston County.
“It’s down to earth here,” she said.
Benard always has had a talent for design, she said. It’s not necessarily something a person can learn.
“One of the things is seeing the end result, the whole picture,” she said.
It’s something that has come easy to her, and she discovered it was a skill she could use to help others.
Her job as a designer is to explain the process to clients and to understand what people envision for their homes, she said.
“It’s important to talk to people about how they are using the room,” she said.
She uses her patio every day for breakfast and dinner or a cup of coffee or two, she said. Even when it rains, she can sit at the table under the turquoise roof and look at her new garden.
“Almost every day, I’m out here,” she said.