Before we even moved to North Carolina, we had big landscape plans for our new exterior–primarily, a pool. A pool was at the forefront of our mind when we were house hunting back in February. “Where would we put the pool” was a frequently asked question. At first we were only looking at homes WITH a pool, but once we settled for the option of putting one in, we were able to find our lovely colonial home that was more than optimal for it…kind of. And if we’re digging into the ground and adding a pool, a few other things on the exterior design should be addressed while we’re at it.
We’re still in the early planning stages, and we wanted to be transparent about what this process is looking like, including deciding on if we should hire a local landscaping designer, or an online exterior design service.
We have been working with Scott, a landscaping designer out of Charlotte, and he has been so helpful in educating us and walking us through the process because we’ve never done anything like this. In our last house, we hired a landscaping company who did some basic planting and grooming, so this is next level for us. He came to our house and we walked around the yard and courtyard, while we shared our hopes and dreams and concerns for the space. He took some measurements and went to work.
Scott required 50% of the $3,000 design fee up front, and we will pay the other half once we are happy with the design. That cost includes 3 initial designs (we’ll share a look at one of those), and will revise as many times until we are satisfied. We gave him these inspiration images to keep in mind.
In what seemed like no time at all, we received his first initial design. Let’s take a look together shall we?
Initial thoughts? Wow. Incredible! But as we looked at it we realized (and the feedback we gave Scott) everything was a bit bigger than we wanted–especially the pool. It felt a tad disconnected from what we were envisioning style-wise. Definitely more modern for our personal taste, and too many trees removed. But Scott was great with taking the feedback, and he is drafting up a revision for us!
On the plus, Scott also sent us a projected timeline which was really helpful to see and he is extremely hopeful that by summer of 2022, we could have a fully functioning exterior space of our dreams. Perfect.
One thing we’re keeping in mind is that on top of the price of the entire project, we would pay an additional 10% of the total scope of the project if we hired a landscape designer. So if the project costs $150,000, we’d pay him an extra $15,000. Of course, for that fee Scott handles all the details and works directly with the contractors to bring the vision to life, so its well-earned. This is pretty standard in the design world but something to keep in mind especially with an expensive project like this.
A lot of our followers recommended we use a service called Yardzen. We had never heard of them, but they offer design services for outdoor spaces, ranging from botanical designs, to just a front yard or back yard, to a full outdoor transformation. We used a promo code to try out their $2395 design service for the full transformation to see if we’d get where we needed going this route, saving money but also taking on the task of “making it happen.”
We sent them the same inspiration images, filled out a bit of information on their website, and they sent back these renderings.
My jaw was on the floor. But before we get carried away, let’s keep in mind that a design decision shouldn’t be made fully on the quality of renderings. Yardzen did have the advantage of coming after we received the renderings from the local landscape designer. We learned from our communication mistakes a bit in working with the landscape designer, and I think we were able to get really clear about what we wanted and didn’t want in an outdoor space. But there were still things that weren’t quite right. The fire pit and fireplace within 10 feet of each other did feel a redundant, and some of it felt sparse and then crowded. The kitchenette felt more reasonable, and the design a little closer to what we imagined (minus the white paint on the house).
We’ve given our feedback to Yardzen as well and I can’t wait to see what else they come up with.
There’s actually a lot more to factor in when it comes to choosing who we’re going to work with though so I thought I would list out some of the pros and cons to make sense of it all.
Pros of Hiring a Landscape Designer
• More robust revision process
• Direct communication and hand-holding
• Oversees the project including making sure we get the proper permits submitted and approved, and hires and manages all the needed contractors
• Should be well-versed on the local climate, plant life, soil and drainage
Cons of Hiring a Landscape Architect
• Cost ( additional 10% fee to the total cost of the project)
Pros of Hiring an Online Exterior Design Service
• Flat fee up front
• Quick turnaround from the comfort of your home
• Incredible renderings that make it easy to visualize (at least in this case)
Cons of Hiring an Online Exterior Design Service
• Could be a bit of a design disconnect with the actual space. The design doesn’t feel catered to our yard or factor in real potential issues like the hill in the back
• They do not oversee any of the project, but instead will put us in contact with contractors
Honestly, we’re not really sure which direction we’re going to go, and we’re just kind of sharing our research in real time. I do think the 10% fee to completely oversee the project and scheduling is worth it! But we also have a pretty good idea of what we want and don’t want. Either way, we thought it might be helpful to some of you to hear about this process and there’s honestly no right or wrong way to go. Both seem like great options, and we are really looking forward to seeing the next drafts. Please do tell us what you think in the comments of course!
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 […]
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!
Make yourself right at home