Patio pointers

Ideas: Patio pointers

Patio pointers

Kari Beckett grew up with an interest in interior design, watching her mother work her magic on their rural home between Tolono and Philo.

Story: Christine Walsh

Photos: provided

Kari Beckett grew up with an interest in interior design, watching her mother work her magic on their rural home between Tolono and Philo. While Beckett has been a full-time legal assistant for the last 20 years, last year she decided to start Kari Beckett Design, a business that she operates during her free evenings and weekends. Friends and family urged her to go into business for herself. “I decided I might as well go for it and see where it takes me,” she said. “Every day is a new learning opportunity.”

Beckett has plenty of experience with home design and renovation, however. At 21, she bought a 100-year-old house and completely gutted and remodeled it.  Kari also had the opportunity to design the interior space of a brand new home in the country.

Beckett and her husband, Eric, now live in a Philo home built in the 1960s that had only one previous owner and have been giving it a makeover, one room at a time. “It’s been a fun project to work on,” Kari said.

Eric works in the agricultural industry by trade but has the skills to help with woodworking, electrical and plumbing work. “We’ve been able to save a lot of money that way,” Kari said.

For their patio, Kari and Eric designed and built a trestle table, sectional sofa and coffee table.

“When I think of a patio, I think of entertaining,” Kari said. “I believe it should be a space for friends and family to sit around, relax and have a good time.”

The Becketts put a television out on their patio because they are baseball fans and enjoy getting together with friends and family to watch games. “It’s one of the best parts of summer,” Kari said.

When planning a patio, Kari said, one consideration is determining where natural light comes in and if you want the patio to be shaded or fully in the sun. In the Becketts’ yard, for example, they have a large tree that they use for shade. “We built a sectional in an area on the patio that receives quite a bit of sun,” she said. “Early in the morning, I’ll take a magazine or book out there to relax, listen to the birds, and watch the sunrise.”

Another option is to build an arbor or pergola over the top to provide shade. They can also be purchased pre-made at Lowe’s or Home Depot, Kari advised. “I feel like everybody’s different as far as if they prefer more shade or if they like to be in the sun,” she said.

The Becketts put up strings of light for evening entertaining. “It’s really beautiful at night,” Kari said.

On the Becketts’ sectional, Kari used neutral cushions and colorful throw pillows. Kari has used blue as a theme color throughout her house and carried that over onto the patio. “It (a patio) definitely reflects your personality and your design style, if you like neutrals or bright colors or an eclectic mix of both,” she said. “I feel like it’s just an extended part of your living space.”

The Becketts created a concrete countertop for the coffee table and cut down railroad ties to make the base. It took six men to put the top on the table. It’s very heavy,” Kari said. They then put on some sealant coats to waterproof it.

Eric built the trestle table, and Kari stained it. “We love the look of high-end furnishings, but not necessarily the price tags that go with them.  So, I draw up similar plans and Eric and I create “dupes” for those pieces we want in our home,” Kari said. “We’re not in the country, but our neighbors are far enough away I wanted to do something with more natural wood elements. If you have a more urban setting, you might use a different style of furniture such as wicker or metal.”

Growing up, Kari’s nearby grandparents had a massive garden. She learned a lot from helping with that and now tries something new outdoors every year. Projects have included raised garden beds and trellises, as well as planting tulips and daffodils all around the back yard’s perimeter. Around the border of the house are hydrangeas and ferns.

In her own style, Kari likes to mix vintage pieces from favorite vendors with new ones from various home furnishing stores. “My style is definitely eclectic,” she said. “I like more neutral tones with a subtle pop of color. I do like to add some color to the black and white.”

In her home office, for example, Kari found a piece of furniture from an old school and painted it teal to become a file cabinet for fabric swatches and paint samples. Some antique pieces, like a jewelry maker’s cabinet, she simply cleans up and leaves rustic. “There are a lot of things I would never paint,” she said. “If a piece is not in great condition, I go ahead and paint it.”

While her husband favors a table saw and miter saw as his favorite tools, Kari loves her paintbrush. “Definitely, I also use my computer a lot for design projects,” she said. “Lately, I’m really into tiling.”

Kari tiled a laundry room backsplash as a surprise for Eric while he was out of town on a trip. “I was pretty excited,” she said. “I sent him pictures, and he said, ‘Wow, that’s very impressive.’”

She then did a kitchen backsplash using brick-look tile and then painted it white. With repainting the cabinets, buying some laminate countertop sheets and buying a new sink and faucet, the Becketts updated the look of their kitchen for under $750. “You can make big changes if you’re willing to put in the work,” Kari said.

Kari cringes when people house hunting let features like paint color deter them. “You have to be willing to see past the bright purple or lime green paint,” she said. “It’s not a deal breaker, or definitely shouldn’t be.”

Another of Kari’s obsessions: Pillows. She recently bought some new terra cotta-colored ones for the living room, moved the previous black and white ones to a new location and discovered she liked them there. “I just like the different textures and fabrics and styles and colors – all of it,” she said.


Kari Beckett can be reached at 217-202-4797 or at Her website is