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A Stylish Taste of Italy

Photo by Tria Giovan

Alfresco meals, twinkly lights, verdant gardens—Italians know how to do summer nights right. But living la dolce vita can be yours for less than the cost of a ticket to Rome. Take this patio, which designer and fervent DIYer Heather Chadduck, the style director at Southern Living magazine, put together in back of a house in Birmingham, Alabama. Using an overgrown pergola from the movie Under the Tuscan Sun as muse, she added a simple iron structure and let wisteria grow wild. A long copper-topped trestle table edged by a medley of metal and woven chairs begs guests to sit and stay awhile under the glow of lights she fashioned from pickle and okra jars. Wicker-wrapped bottles act as vases and wine decanters; a fireplace supplies needed warmth on cooler evenings

To bring the idyllic look to your own backyard, read on.


An oversize glass vessel is an eye-catching holder for leafy greens—a great way to bring nature farther into the space.

About $28;

River-Rock Tile

Photo by Mark Lund

The homeowner got a custom patio for a fraction of the usual price by laying mesh-backed stone tile in large diamond shapes and having a mason pour concrete in between.

About $33 per square foot;

Outdoor Hearth

The homeowner's stuccoed cinder-block fireplace sends a glow down the copper-topped table. This wood-burning steel version offers easier setup.

About $349;

Wine Jugs

Photo by Alison Cohen Rosa

Enterprising oenophiles have long used wicker-wrapped bottles to prevent breakage.

We found these on for about $14 and $16, respectively.

Jar Lighting

Photo by Alison Cohen Rosa

Outdoor cord kits and black paint turn pickle and okra jars into rustic pendant lights. Extra holes and 25-watt Edison bulbs prevent overheating.

Cord kit, about $6.95;

Tub Chair

The homeowner's mismatched seating adds a lot of charm; it includes 1930s-style armchairs like this one, which look even better after a few storms.

About $100 for a pair;

Climbing Vines

Grapevines grow more quickly than wisteria, but they provide the same shade and bear fruit to boot.

Search vinifera at to find the best type for your area.

Leafy Prints

Photo by Alison Cohen Rosa

Upholster a chair like the homeowner's in lush-looking outdoor fabric that can take the sun; just bring it indoors if the forecast calls for rain.

About $30 per yard;

Copper Sconce

Cast a wide glow over the party with this copper-finished steel fixture that has an old-world look.

About $200;

Wicker Chair

Treat this chair, made of hand-woven rattan and bamboo fiber, with an outdoor-use polyurethane to keep it in top form summer after summer.

About $40;

Copper-Topped Table

Chadduck's handy father built the 17-foot trestle table, and a roofer topped it with copper sheeting. To make a similar version, we used contact cement and copper nails to affix a 30-gauge copper roll to doubled-up plywood. Trestle legs painted the same hue as the homeowner's table (Farrow & Ball's French Gray) form the base.

36-by-40-inch copper roll, about $127, and 1 pound of copper nails, about $24; Trestle legs, about $15 each;