A Full Backyard Update

July 18, 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

Lots of projects in the backyard finally wrapped up these past couple of weeks, including the pool finally getting filled, so you can find me there! And while not everything is done and tied up in a bow, it is slowly getting there and if there is one thing I have learned throughout all of these projects and houses, it is that changes take time. Although that realization definitely does not make the waiting any easier, however it does make the finished projects even sweeter!

While the backyard isn’t completely done yet (check out our backyard plans) the outdoor kitchen still needs to get finished, and the outdoor furniture hasn’t arrived yet. But, this place has come a loooong way.

Let’s rewind back to our last backyard update to appreciate how far this space has come. And then let’s take it even further back to the original backyard to show how much has changed and evolved.

For a while there, it felt like the backyard would never be done, but these most recent updates have made a massive difference. So, let’s break them all down and celebrate each victory.

Painting the red utility door

I’m sure you all know by now how much I wanted to paint that brick red utility door so it was no longer a strain on the eyes. Well, it has finally been painted. And just loooook how gorgeous it is!

I picked the color, Caviar because the color looked so rich in the direct sunlight. Even with exterior paint, there’s a chance it can fade over time, so I figured starting with something more dark and saturated would be our best bet.

And if you’re wondering why I wouldn’t just color match our front door, it’s the same reason you wouldn’t use the same white for each interior room. The color depends on which direction it’s facing and if it’s getting direct or indirect light. Our front door is actually completely shaded, and the utility door is in direct sunlight most of the day, so I had to choose a different color. We also switched out the doorknob with this pretty brass one.

The next fun part will be picking a color for the outdoor kitchen. I’m thinking something similar to the exterior of our last house. The majority was dark charcoal with dark shiny black trim and windows. I love the look of really dark black with trim, just a tinge lighter. Only time will tell what I decide, but I will continue to take each of you every step of the way.

The baby plants are in!!

One of the most exciting updates is that the plants have been officially planted!! Slowly but surely, this space is taking shape and becoming the lush and luxurious haven I envisioned. Especially once those plants start getting a bit bigger, grow baby plants, grow!!

Previously, I shared the backyard plant plans and how the proposed plan was $50k over our budget! Then in our Love Letter, I shared more in-depth about how Chris and I trimmed the plan down to remain within our original budget without compromising our vision.

The plan involved nixing 15 Green Giants, switching 10 12′ Green Giants to 8′. Along with opting out of the Yuletide Camellias and requesting extra Phenomenal Lavender since it was so inexpensive at $31/plant. And now, we wait.

One day it will be lush and those Green Giants which grow 2′-3′ every year will be towering and providing excellent privacy. And honestly, I am actually pretty excited to watch all of these plants grow and mature.

We have grass!

Another update I can’t get over is that the backyard is no longer covered in dirt! Grass has been installed around the fire pit and underground trampoline. All of the green compliments the bluestone and brick so well; I am really glad I followed my gut and went with lots of green to break up the hardscape.

The pool is officially in commission

Remember when I said we would most likely be jumping in our pool by this summer? 😅 Well, we are nearing the end of summer, but it is finally done! Many of you messaged me on Instagram asking about the pool installation. I carefully watched the whole thing, so come back soon for a blog post about the entire process.

Who wouldn’t want to jump into that pool with the hot summer we have been having?!

And lastly, the fence!

In North Carolina, by law, if you have a pool, then a fence is required to be around it. And with the girls, I personally love the extra safety precaution. There will also be an indoor alarm that will make a noise whenever the gate opens for our peace of mind. Plus, I’m not making any promises, but the fence would also be very convenient if we decide to get another dog one day. 👀

For the fence, we went with a classic modern black finish that will pair nicely with the brick, bluestone, and that newly painted utility door I mentioned earlier. 😉

Patience is key when remodeling your home and creating a space you love. Because of that, celebrating the little victories is just as important as the big ones. Those little victories keep me going amid a big renovation, like this entire backyard. Plus, little changes can truly make such a big difference. Even if you have a tight budget or limited time, plenty of smaller projects can help cleanse the palate. Like repainting a door or investing in smaller/cheaper plants.

What smaller projects have you done around your house that made a big difference?

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. Cheryl says:

    This is amazing! I want a pool just like this but my husband is afraid to lose so much grass. Although I have to say, I certainly wouldn’t call this a “smaller project”!

  2. Miranda says:

    I needed the reminder to celebrate the little victories amidst massive work. We’re in the middle of a new build and it’s taking foooooreveeeer and I’m getting irritated that finished isn’t happening. I want to neatly wrap things up in a bow and be done but it’s a marathon. Time to change my outlook

  3. Lee Harrison says:

    I was amazed to see the kiddos jumping in the pool the same day it was filled. Was the water in the tankers heated…or did it warm up in the trucks thanks to our blistering heat? Amazing job on this project…really beautiful!

  4. Jen says:

    So the fence doesn’t have to enclose the pool? Just the rear of the property? I’m just trying to understand where it will go or what the requirement is.

  5. Karen says:

    Beautiful! Will the wrought iron fence run the perimeter of the pool?

    We put wrought iron around ours for safety and really wished we put up a removable fence for parties.

  6. Linda says:

    The original courtyard was so charming and quant – I almost can’t believe how much you fit back there! Once again, you have truly amplified all the potential of the space. Great job maintaining the charm and character. I’m sure your family it going to love this space!

  7. Lee Ann says:

    LOL! When I saw your comment about being “almost at the end of summer,” I had to laugh. Have no fear … I’ve known many with pools in the NC Triangle area to be swimming until the end of September. So you still have LOTS of time to enjoy the pool!

  8. Deb says:

    You know I have been waiting for the
    post about “getting a dog.”
    One of my favorite pictures you posted was of Willow and Chris was in the swing followed by you and Willow in the mountain cabin where you were lying on the floor. I know you will decide when it is best for you and your family .

  9. Kristin Bauer says:

    I loved your original little courtyard but this is such a better use of the space and gives your family an entirely new space to play and make memories. I love every little detail. It is all beautiful!!

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? 

There was a 10-year-period where everyone (including me) was doing black or almost-black rooms or walls. These days, we want something moody and romantic, but we want warmth back in our lives. We want the “grown-up” version of that look. If you are craving a rich, moody paint color that’s a warm, inviting neutral, then […]

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