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Our Complete Exterior Renovation: The Final Reveal and Cost Breakdown

May 24, 2023

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. 




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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.

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In the past two homes we’ve lived in, we prioritized renovating the inside of the house before the outside. So when we made the move to North Carolina, where the outdoor living is outstandingly better than Idaho, we wanted to focus on the outside first. And I’m so glad we did it right from the start because now we get to reap all the benefits for years to come. It’s been two years since we traded our black Modern Cottage in Idaho for this North Carolinian Red Brick Modern Colonial, and it’s taken us 15 months to get to this point, but the exterior is done! If you’re interested in how much it cost, keep scrolling.

See our previous exterior home renovations below:
Modern Cottage Exterior Reveal
Backyard Reveal of Our Rexburg House

Front Yard



Okay, eventually, we plan to do more work on the actual house exterior, but for now, we’re calling it! The roof will need replacing soon, as well as the windows, and I would love to paint the trim while we’re at it. We recorded a full walking video tour of the entire exterior for you, but we took a plethora of transformation photos jut for you. Enjoy!

I just did a side-by-side of the first video tour of our house, and the transformation is shocking.

Planters | Faux Topiary Balls

I don’t think we did a very fair reveal of the front yard in this post here because we were still in the season of the sticks and short on greenery. With summer on the cusp, the front yard is looking much fuller and green. Every morning when I return from the gym and pull up into the driveway, I get a little hit of dopamine. Isn’t the best feeling “coming home?”



Few of our projects are without controversy, and the front yard brought some feelings out for a few. It can be a hard thing for people to see “mature” landscaping ripped out for small shrubs and new plants. But this yard was overgrown and overshadowed the home. By simplifying and tidying the landscaping, both the kitchen and the study are flooded with natural light. And thanks to these Carolina rains, those cute Japanese Holly bushes will grow in no time.

Parking Pad



This part of our property has scarcely been shown! When you face the house, it’s around the left corner, and it’s where our garage, guest house, and parking pad are located. We expanded the parking pad, built a retaining wall, and added the gate (requirements of having a pool). Oh, and we took out some of the trees and added a pathway into the back. Although, there’s another gate entrance through the archway.

Pool Deck & Pool



Shop our backyard

The backyard is heaven. Another controversial move: taking out so many shrubs and trees. But we can honestly say we have zero regrets (which is also the number of snakes we’ve seen on our property since clearing out all the dense greenery).

We get a lot of questions asking how we feel about the bluestone pavers and turf, and the honest answer is we love it! The turf has been a dream, and I think the way that some of the bluestone pavers are oxidizing adds so much character.

Umbrellas | Umbrella Stands | Chaise Loungers | Woven Planter | Faux Pine Tree

And as you know from this post, this post, and this post, we’re completely smitten with our pool.

Pool Floats

The girls swim in it for 10 months every year, and they have already made countless memories with more to come.

Shop this view

Fun fact! Chris and I have only ever had white outdoor furniture. I’m obsessed with that brilliant white in the outdoors. With so many colors in our outdoor space – our red brick house, the spa blue-green of the pool, the bluish-gray stone, and green grass – I knew our pool furniture needed to be black and white. Having a visual reprieve from all the colors is what really ties this all together.

The entire backyard is dripping with vacation oasis vibes.

Fire Pit Area



The sunken fire pit might be the most underrated part of the backyard renovation! Usually at the end of a pool day, we change out of our wet clothes and warm up by the fire. We also try to keep s’more ingredients on hand at all times because you never know when you might need them.

Adirondack Chairs

For more details on the Adirondack chairs and a selection of even more, check out this post!

Outdoor Kitchen



Pergola | Lantern Pendants | Barstools

The outdoor kitchen gets used about three times a week, and that’s on a bad week. Chris cooks almost every night, and this time of year, he does the majority of it outside. This is his playground.

We recently added these barstools, which match the aesthetic of the kitchen so much and are surprisingly affordable for a set of two. I like that they have a low back so we can still serve food buffet-style without having to shift them out of the way!

Although we have revealed the total cost of the pool installation, we get a lot of questions surrounding ALL renovation costs.

Of course, sharing numbers is always tricky because everybody’s budget looks different, but for the sake of transparency in sharing our renovation journey, here’s the budget breakdown of all the landscaping changes front and back:

  • demo
  • clearing
  • grading
  • permitting
  • plants
  • parking pad
  • pool
  • pool lighting
  • deck jet fountains
  • motorized hardcover
  • all the stonework
  • retaining walls
  • pergola
  • outdoor kitchen materials
  • appliances
  • landscaping
  • irrigation
  • drainage
  • trampoline
  • outdoor shower (Shower system)
  • sunken fire pit
  • lighting
  • contractors and landscapers

All of this for a total of $549,521. The exterior renovation was one of the projects we budgeted from selling our last house and took 15 months to complete, but we’re so glad we prioritized it from the beginning. We’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come. 

Other posts about the exterior

The Initial Landscaping Plans

Our Revised Backyard Landscaping

An Overdue Backyard Update

Our Backyard Plant Plans

Progress in the Backyard

The Backyard Pool Installation

Our Backyard Exterior Lighting

The Pool Furniture in Our Backyard Vacation Oasis

The Sunken Fire Pit

Outdoor Kitchen Reveal!

The Start of Our Container Garden

“Planting” Faux Plants Outside

Front Landscaping

5 Things to Consider Before Installing a Pool

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What do you think?

  1. SK says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the cost! We have spent what felt like a fortune on our yard and pool and it’s good to see what it actually costs to do something this extensive. The backyard is gorgeous, beautiful job!

  2. Olivia J says:

    Wow. You guys have such a beautiful home! Love how everything turned out and I love how real you guys are! Keep up the great work.

  3. Linda Schombert says:

    For some reason the cost breakdown didn’t show up, could you do a recap for me?

    • Linda Schombert says:

      Found it, for some reason my iPad blocks things out in the display, found costs when I read post on my iPhone…thx

  4. Wallis says:

    This is the most helpful, honest and inspirational post I’ve seen in a long time. As high as that number may seem we just received a price for less work and twice the cost. We thought we were being taken advantage of but now we know. Thanks for your transparency. So refreshing!

    Stunning design choices. Love it all.

  5. Diana says:

    As a landscape contractor I really appreciated your transparency about the budget! Sometimes it gets a bit frustrating to deal with clients that see all the beautiful images online but have no idea what it took to get there.

  6. Dawn says:

    Okay that number almost took me out, LOL. I feel like we’re still in a post pandemic price crush for home projects, but you did do a whole bunch and it looks stunning. The pool area in particular is amazing.

  7. REK981 says:

    You’ve invested in yourselves and your family and I love it. The change around the parking pad and the extra gate are such a nice treat! When you host or have guests that extra parking space makes such a big difference! It really is lovely! Enjoy!!

  8. Barbara says:

    Wow, that is a ton of money, but I think you have enhanced the property so much. As I was reading, I kept thinking about how much use you will get from this space in the years to come – pool parties, sleep overs, birthdays, graduation, showers. Not to mention just good old family times. It’s beautiful and I’m so glad you love it and will have many years to enjoy it.

  9. Susan MacEachern says:

    Congratulation, on the beautiful backyard just in time for summer

  10. Emily says:

    I really appreciate you sharing the real numbers! It helps put me back into reality — this is what this costs, and it’s ok if my renovations look different because I have a different budget.

    • CR says:

      100 % agree with this comment – thank you for your honesty

    • Emily says:

      Agreed. I love that you are brave enough to share the real numbers. I am getting ready to design an add-on and backyard space for our house and it helps me to adjust my expectations. So often, influencers have these perfect looking homes but they don’t admit the huge amount of money it often takes to create spaces like these. I love looking at it and getting design ideas from you while knowing you are actually honest!

  11. Em says:

    This exterior is an absolute dream space. Every time I see the photos of the little patio and all the shrubs, it just blows my mind that you had all that glorious space waiting to be used. Such an amazing space for your family and I love the whole design and vibe. Well done.

  12. Laura says:

    So much inspiration!!! Watching your process creating this wonderland has been so informative. I hope your HOA doesn’t squabble with anything they see this time😉

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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. 

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