Any day now we’re going to be jumping into that backyard pool, I just know it. It’s been a wild ride getting to this point but already it feels so worth it. When we moved in, the backyard space was limited to just a small little courtyard barely big enough for patio furniture. While overflowing with mature shrubs and plants, we were only using about 1/3rd of what the yard really is. And if we learned anything from our last house, it’s how much we love having all this extra space to enjoy. In anticipation of the outdoor space getting finished, I can’t help but compare it to all our past yards. What things are the same, and what’s different??
Obviously the pool here in NC is something we could really only dream of in Idaho. In our Modern Cottage, we did have an above ground pool we would fill up for those short summer months, and so we’re getting quite the upgrade! Above ground pools will always be a great option for homes in colder climates.
There’s also this little pocket in our backyard next to the house pictured below. To think, this brick wall didn’t even exist before, and somehow it looks like it has always been here. You may remember from the outdoor shower ideas post that our contractor talked us into using this space for an outdoor shower since we already have a water line plumbed there. Coming from Idaho, this is something we would never have known to even think of, but we’re looking forward to rinsing off in the shower before dipping into the pool.
Another big difference from our past outdoor living spaces is the amount of hardscaping. The bluestone diamond pavers with artificial turf actually finished getting installed this week (keep scrolling for a sneak peak)! My goal was to break up all of the hardscape and the finished project turned out even better than I imagined! I am so excited to share more about the design install details for this project next week in the blog.
There’s also going to be a nice grassy area over by the trampoline and I have a feeling that between the diamond pavers and turf, it’s going to feel really cohesive.
Speaking of the trampoline, we had an in-ground trampoline in our last two houses and it’s just something our girls love so much so we did it again! Last week they dug, assembled, and installed the trampoline and the girls took it for a little test jump. Polly’s laugh could be heard from miles away ;). I know some of you were worried about an in-ground trampoline being a snake breeding fest, but the landscapers went above and beyond to make it extremely snake resistant so rest-assured.
Also a repeat from our last house is the fire pit! One thing we have learned now that we’ve lived here through all 4 seasons, is that we can enjoy our outdoor space almost year round! The few winter months can be cold but fire pits can be so cozy in fall and spring.
Each home exterior has taken on a life of its own and I have taken parts from all of those yards and honed in on what is really nice to have, what is a negotiable, and what could have been better. Now, let’s take a walk down memory lane at all of our home exteriors as I point out what I loved most about each yard and what we took from the others to incorporate into our current home exterior.
Our last yard was the epitome of “wide open spaces.” While beautiful and spacious, 3-1/2 acres was a lot of work and money to maintain. We quickly realized that the cost to maintain it was as much as another mortgage payment. Between two water features (one always getting clogged), constant weeding and watering (Idaho is so so dry), plus all the unexpected things it was just too much. We did actually hire my dad, because if anybody can keep our grass green and dandelion free it’s him, which felt totally worth it!
Along with a spacious patio perfect for entertaining (3 months out of the year when it’s warm enough), we had a fire pit, playground, trampoline, sport court, vegetable garden, and plenty of space to run around playing frisbee or capture the flag. We made the best memories in that yard, but also it was just too much to maintain, not to mention too cold to really enjoy year round.
Lessons we learned with this yard is that a trampoline is fun for kids AND adults, this is too much space for us, and don’t take mature landscaping for granted. Also in regards to the playground… we’ve officially nixed that idea. I remember our girls started to outgrow it and really only played in the sandpit and here in NC it would just be too buggy. Plus we’ll have a pool and a trampoline which is certainly enough.
Going even further back, our first Idaho house was the perfect example of making the most out of an awkward shaped property. It was triangle shape! The biggest, boldest change we made was filling our entire backyard with the deck. Some might even say controversial, but it really cozied-up our outdoor space. We DIY-ed that fireplace and I’ve always loved the look and feel of an upright, outdoor fireplace. Talk about extending your outdoor living space!
The side yard was home to the trampoline and playground which we put in right before Polly was born. Giving the girls a space of their own to entertain themselves when I was busy with a newborn made all the difference. It was also so so nice when we entertained because the adults would gather on the deck while the kids played freely in fenced-in area–close enough to keep an eye on them, but separated enough for the adults to enjoy themselves a bit.
In our first home we were total newbs and left the outside pretty untouched until our last year of living there. The only gathering space we really had was a concrete patio and remember stained concrete? Well yeah, we stained our patio and tried to make the most of what we had. We also built some raised garden boxes which my mom said looked like coffins so that’s that. Times have changed!
We’ve learned so much over the years through these outdoor spaces. The biggest ones being…
1. Don’t wait. Your outdoor space can and should be an extension of your house.
2. Mature greenery and trees take years and years to grow. We kept all the front-yard plants and kept as much as the backyard trees as we could. This is another reason why we’re doing the backyard right away so we can get things planted and grow up with them.
3. Having space is nice, but for us too much space is overrated.
Here’s the sneak peak I promised. See you next week where I’ll be sharing all the details on the artificial turf from designing to installation.
We designed the Charly line of sofas, chairs, and ottomans with perfect proportions for comfort — with wide arms, a loungey depth, and stylish and practical lumbar pillows. Available in 70 kid-friendly, pet-friendly fabrics, this line was created with families in mind.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
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.
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.
One of our biggest projects this year is building out an upstairs laundry room using borrowed space from the playroom. Chris and I have been drawing up and re-drawing floor plans and elevations that I can’t wait to share. The biggest hurdle we’re designing around is this great, big window which is a blessing and […]
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