An Overdue Backyard Update!

May 12, 2022

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




We're Chris + Julia

read more

What we're                   right now


browse the shop

Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

browse all

browse all

browse all




Popular Posts




Top Categories

Wow, wow, wow it’s time for a major update in the yard! Now before you light me up and say you like the before better… in this state?–I’m with you. Demo started December 5th and we still have a couple more months of work to go, including hardscaping, landscaping and then years for everything to mature. These projects take so much time and I’m committed to sharing the progress along the way to normalize the amount of time that goes into this work–transforming a home, making it your own. So if you’re thinking, “aren’t you going to _____?” Well, probably. Stand by, grab some popcorn and keep watching it unfold.

Anyways, this is what it looked like before demo.

Metal Chairs | Teak Chairs | String Lights

It was so lush and green and I miss looking out of my windows to this view, but knowing what it will look like (here’s the plans if you forget!) keeps me optimistic. What you don’t realize from these photos is that where the courtyard ended, the pool now begins. The courtyard was always beautiful BUT I felt like we weren’t maximizing our yard as much as we could, and for a family with kids that loves to entertain–we want a yard for them. Planning for some grass-stained clothes in spring, sun-kissed cheeks in summer, and cozy nights around the fire pit in fall. A backyard of dreams for memories to be made.

Brick retaining wall

In memory of the brick in the courtyard I loved so much, I hoped to have a retaining wall from the beginning. Originally they planned to just grade out the slope but they realized with the rain there would be too much dirt runoff into the pool. No thanks. I love a good callback and it feels like it could have been here all this time. Chris and I were on a walk one day and we saw a brick fence and the whole thing was latticed, which gave me the inspiration do make the upper section of ours latticed. It’s topped with bluestone coping which will coordinate with the bluestone pavers on the pool deck.

To give some scale, the back wall is over 6 feet tall!

In front of the latticed wall will be a 3 foot planter bed with some nicely shaped boxwood shrubs to soften the brick.

Now behind the guest house was another large mound of dirt and so they built this shorter brick wall to keep all of that retained. We did want some stairs to lead up to what we’re calling, “hammock paradise” within the trees. There’s going to be lights and lots of magic and some pretty trees on either side of the stairs.

There’s also going to be a more prominent, pebbled pathway to lead behind the guest house.

Pool progress

As for the pool, there hasn’t been much progress at all. They did install the equipment for the automatic hardcover, but other than that they’re kind of at a standstill until more of the hardscaping gets finished. The waterline tile is going to get re-grouted as well as re-tiling the hot tub. We’re not really sure what’s coming next but we do know that it has yet to be plastered!

Pool deck progress

After sharing that the pool deck will be bluestone, we got a lot of people suggesting we run some irrigation to keep it cool, so we listened! Apparently bluestone can get pretty hot and there’s nothing worse than hot feet around a pool! The same bluestone coping used atop the red brick will also run along the border of the pool. Can’t wait to see it! I did learn that before laying the bluestone, they’ll pour concrete to make sure no weeds come through the stone. Don’t know exactly what that process will be like I’ll likely share on stories when it happens!

Fire pit progress

And the fire pit! After the gas line got ran, and drainage properly installed, they’ve been hard at work with cinderblocks and brick. Expect to see two steps down and really beautiful brick herringbone at the base, all lined with bluestone pavers. It’s already so incredible to see!

As per our original plans we’re still doing an in-ground trampoline in the corner (with lights!)! I’ve gone back and forth about the play set or just swings. And honestly, I can picture so clearly our girls swimming and jumping on the trampoline but I don’t know that they’ll use the play set as much. It’s something we made add later, but I think that they’ll be plenty of fun to be had with what we have planned as is.

This crew has been MOVING (we’re working with a local company called Agape). They’ve been here Monday thru Saturday and are making so much progress by the hour. Every day the view out the window is changing so we’re nearly there right??

More Backyard Posts!

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Local Landscape Designer Vs. a Flat Fee Online Exterior Design Service

Our Revised Backyard Landscape Plans

How Much is it to Install a Gunite Pool? (And How We Budgeted For it)

Pool Progress + Pool Mood Board

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What do you think?

  1. Ilissa says:

    Can you share some backyard blue prints? I would like to incorporate this design for my new home. Thank you ☺️☺️

  2. KDallas says:

    Make sure you “rat proof” your pool heater. We have trouble every winter (15+ years!) and just found this product this year. Hope it works and no rat nest next winter. So disgusting (and dangerous!).

  3. Bean says:

    Can you share more about the irrigation needed for blue stone? I’m unclear on how this is going to help make it cooler.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I love seeing each progress post so much! No questions, just appreciation. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Lindsey says:

    I’m curious on the process of a contractor doing work for you. I’m a structural engineer at a commercial design firm and we do a lot of multi-family residential projects so I know the drawing process for commercial work. There’s civil, landscape, architectural, interior design, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, low voltage, fire safety, pool, food service! LOTS of drawings and hundreds of pages of specifications detailing every single piece of the design. But for residential work like this or your bathroom reno, how do you communicate your plans to the construction team?

    • We communicate our ideas to a landscape architect who draws up the blueprints and communicates them to the different contractors. And there’s a project manager who makes sure everything is getting done according to the plan, and communicates hiccups to us and decisions we need to make.

  6. emily c says:

    Bravo! this is coming together brilliantly. I clicked through to see the past post which led to this final design. And its a reminder to me to keep working on design layout and ideas, and not just go with the first.

  7. Katie says:

    The brick wall, lattice, and brick steps are SO dreamy.

  8. Victoria says:

    Love the lattice brick

  9. KH says:

    My girls are similar ages to yours, so I totally get that they’re on that “cusp” age where play sets get a little less crucial. What about a really epic treehouse instead? I bet the girls would lose their minds and use it for years!

  10. JL says:

    Wow, is right! It’s really taking shape. Agree, this backyard will be so great for the girls. In future, you can always recreate a version of that intimate courtyard off of your primary bedroom. Later, would love an update on Chris’ outdoor kitchen (appliances/materials); as well as the lighting scheme for the outdoors. BTW, at the time that I’m writing this, the link you inserted for the outdoor kitchen plans was an earlier version.

  11. Stacy says:

    What a dream! It is going to be so beautiful and so much fun for your family. And that latticed brick retaining wall—sooo good! Love seeing the progress and will love to see all the plantings you choose too! I’m also super intrigued by the in-ground trampoline. We have thoughts of putting one in. If you have a moment, could you share any info you have an that? Thank you!

  12. Leah says:

    I’m just curious if it’s a worry that snakes might make a home under the in-ground trampoline? I live in the northern states and the thought of those copperheads makes me cringe.

  13. Julie says:

    It’s amazing how fast kids go from being “the perfect age” for a swingset to “too grownup” for a swingset! How about a cute little playhouse? Check out what @laybabylay made for her girls. Also, my boys used a tree swing until my oldest was 14 and they loved it! We got the spinning bungee swing from Hearthsong Toys and it was the hit of the neighborhood! I don’t know if you have a strong tree branch to support it, but this would be such a fun swing for your girls!

  14. Catrina Spano says:

    Instead of the playset, maybe build an epic tree house in the area behind “The Hammock”. You have so many trees behind there and what kid doesn’t love a good hide out/club house.

  15. Samantha says:

    My kids probably would not use a play set but they would definitely use a flying saucer swing.

  16. Katie says:

    What kind of plaster do you have planned? We used StoneScapes (similar to Pebbletech)- worth it but the biggest delay in getting the pool done (and this was years ago) , bc you need the right installer crew. Make sure they use the proper installer crew even if it takes longer than planned, otherwise they may not do it right. Needs a lot of expertise

all the latest

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

read more

Load More

Reader Faves

SHop all

What We're                     Right Now

What We're                 Right Now

Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop. 


looking for inspiration? 

I recently got an email from someone that asked, “Where do you go for new design inspiration?” She went on to say, “I use Houzz and lots of popular sites, but I feel like I’m stuck in an algorithm and keep seeing the same things.” I know the feeling — it’s so easy to get […]

Can We Send You Our Love Letter?

Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!

Follow Along on Instagram

Welcome to our online community where we've posted home, DIY, style, renovations, and family since '09. Renovating our #cljmoderncottage in Idaho and headed for new adventures in Raleigh, NC. #cljfam #cljtransformations