If You Can't Be With The Patio You Love, Honey, Love the Patio You're With: A Before and After

We have big plans for a really great patio. Lilac stone, a fountain in the middle to remind us of a New Orleans courtyard... But we haven't made it happen yet because of 13 things that are in our way. Like we can't agree on a shape, size or what to do/how to deal with the existing concrete walk.

Also, we don't own this house, yet.

So, for the 2 years we have lived here as renters there has been no place to sit outside- And I just can't live like that, so, I made this patio after dinner one night. I did it 90% by myself. Seriously, it took no time at all.

Or money, really.
The area in question- Who needs a FANTASTIC patio when you have a vintage Malm fireplace, anyways?
So I started after dinner when the kid was at Grandma's
I used a shovel with a rope tied to it to help me make a even, circle shape and spray-painted an outline. Then I went around with an edger and dug where the cheap. crappy, plastic edging would go. I hate plastic edging, but I really like how it looks and works in this case. I mean, it's not for keeps, just until we come up with something better!
It had been raining SO MUCH and the soil was SO WET that it was sort of a disaster, mud wise.
mud platform clogs

Next step: newspaper

Thick layers, hit with the hose
I added a TON of newspaper and wet it with the hose to make a very lazy paper mache effect. Notice I just worked AROUND the Malm?

Looking good, no? Pea gravel is $2 a bag. I think we used about 20 bags. The edging was $20, so this is a $60 patio.
The furniture was a $45 Ebay win, the Malm was free. The table came out of a dumpster. Now, I'm making cushions for that furniture that cost more than they whole thing together because the foam is so, so pricey.
Whatever. It's recycled material and supposed to not mold. More on the cushions at a later date.
One last wheelbarrow full of gravel to go- At this point, I gave up and asked Dan for help. I was HURTING
I think about all the time I wasted waiting for the RIGHT patio when, really, the fastest, cheapest patio will do just fine!
Now I'm obsessed with the idea of adding more circle patios around the yard. A small one under the sand and water table, heck get rid of the sand and water table and make a tiny, round sandbox? A rubber mulch one under the hammock?
Who knows? I may be all talk. It's taken me 2 years to get this far...