7 April 2017
John and I could not be more excited about our backyard project being underway! It’s still sometimes hard to believe it’s actually happening, because we’ve been talking about it for so long with no action!! But it’s real, it’s happening, and sooner than not the landscape folks will have packed up and we’ll be enjoying an entirely new backyard. I thought I’d share a little about our plans and inspiration, if you’re curious!
We had many months to plan and dream about what we’d like to include in our backyard, and here’s the wish list we came up with:
— more privacy
— more usable, flat lawn space
— L-shaped stairs leading down from the house, good for perching
— a pergola
— a flagstone patio with space for a dining table and fire pit
— string lights!
We are happily getting all of this, and we are so grateful! Here’s a little more detail about the major components of our plan:
— Remove the deck. In addition to liking the look of a patio more than a deck, we felt that dropping our seating area down three feet, to ground level, would help with privacy – because instead of having our heads above fence-level when seated, they would be below, so we wouldn’t constantly be looking into our neighbors’ yards.
— Remove two trees and level/grade the lawn. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE trees. Probably more than most people. Just ask John – I’m always grumbling about how the builders around here clear cut for new neighborhoods. But, in order to grade our lawn and maximize the small amount of space we have to work with, the trees had to go. Grading will also really help with privacy.
— Build a retaining wall. To deal with the differential created by grading our lawn, we’ll build a curving retaining wall along our back fence. Eventually it will be planted with lovely flowers and shrubs, but those will probably be added in over time as the budget allows.
— Add a patio. The deck will be replaced with a natural flagstone patio with space for dining, our grill, and a small fire pit. We were told flagstone was out of our budget by many landscaping companies, and I’m so grateful that we finally found the company we eventually hired!
— Add stairs and a walkway. Though we could have gone with simple wooden stairs down from the two doors leading to our backyard, I really wanted to make the stairs a focal point. They’ll also be made from flagstone, and should be an inviting place for people to perch. I can imagine friends lounging on them while hot dogs are grilling nearby and kids are playing on the lawn, which makes me so happy! A walkway will lead from the patio to our gate.
— Build a pergola. As a final privacy measure, we’ll be adding an airy, wooden screen on one side of the patio on which we can grow jasmine or climbing roses. It will also give us something to string lights to and from, a major priority! :)
And now, for a few inspiration pictures…
These images all helped inspire my vision for our stairs. I love how wide and welcoming they each are! And that Lucy Cuneo porch photo, top right… that’s the dream right there. Hoping to add lots of potted plants to our steps, too!
I had to include the backyard of our friends Meredith and Michael (middle right) – it’s always been one of my favorites!
I’m sure our backyard will not look nearly as good as any of these lovely spots, especially before our plants grow in, but these images all inspired me in some way – either the size of the lawn, or the materials used, or the shape of the space. Many of these have much larger pergolas than we’ll have, but I do love that look!
Over time, we hope to add lots of plantings for a lush, green look. I would love to include hostas, Confederate jasmine, climbing roses (maybe “Super Fairy”), David Austen roses, mock orange, and hydrangea! We’re also keeping our vegetable garden, and I’d love to find a spot to add more blueberry bushes.
So that’s our plan! So far, the deck and trees have been removed, the yard is partially graded, and the steps are partially constructed. We have our fingers crossed everything will be finished by the end of April, which would give us a few weeks to enjoy before it gets super hot out, haha!
Would y’all be interested in seeing in-progress shots, or should the next post be the reveal? Let me know what you think! :)
30 March 2017
We love many things about our home, but the backyard has never been one of them. It’s small, sloped, exposed, littered with acorns and sweet gum balls, and not receptive to our efforts at grass growing. For the last four years we’ve hardly spent any time out there, preferring to hang on our front porch (we mostly just went around back to tend the vegetable garden and grill).
We can’t change the size of our yard, but we’ve always hoped to do a major renovation to make it work a lot harder for us. With June’s arrival, it seemed like the time was right, so I spent part of my maternity leave getting quotes and meeting with landscape folks. It was shockingly hard to get people to respond to our calls and emails! (I was like, do you KNOW how much money I’m trying to give you??)
Speaking of so much money… a few quotes did come back, and they were higher than we were anticipating. We had saved up a good amount, but just didn’t feel comfortable moving forward. So, we tabled the project last spring.
Then, early this year, we received an unexpected and generous gift from a family member. It wasn’t large enough to, say, make a huge difference in our mortgage (and we already feel good about our progress and plan there), but it was enough to make our backyard project a reality. We were SO excited to start the ball rolling again, and the best part is that though the gift was given with no strings attached, I think the giver would be very excited about where it’s going, because kids being outside is something near and dear to her heart.
As it is to ours. I’ll share more about our plans in my next post, but for now, I wanted to show y’all the before photos!
Mmmmm… so lovely :) Back with more soon!
P.S. A crane is coming to remove two of the trees today!! Stay tuned to Instagram Stories for an update.
21 March 2017
Are you all planning to watch the new HGTV series Home Town tonight? It’s at 10 EST, right after Fixer Upper – and if you love Fixer Upper, you probably will love Home Town! They both have a sweet, talented, smart, very-much-in-love couple at the center; small town coziness; fun house transformations; and a Southern heartbeat. Plus, Erin from Home Town wrote my favorite Southern Newlywed interview ever, and has been one of my favorite blogs to read for a few years. (She writes a short note sharing the best thing that happened that day, every day – admirable!) It has been so fun to see the show develop on her blog, from the first covert mentions (before they could even talk about what was going on but it was obvious something was up), to the pilot’s debut last year, to the past few weeks building up to the premier. They are an easy couple to root for and it has been so fun to do so!
We also have some of Erin’s original art hanging in our home! Before she became an HGTV star, she was a wedding and social stationer. Though she’s now using her drawing and watercolor skills to help Laurel-ites imagine home renovation possibilities, she used to create house portraits for people like me! She drew both of our family cottages (that’s one of them under her pen, up there), and they hang proudly in our main room. Since we live far away from Maine, I love walking by their sweet facades every day. I’ll always be grateful for her talent in bringing them to life!
Join me in supporting this sweet Southern couple tonight, friends? 10pm EST – I’ll see you there!
P.S. I am going to Laurel next month – counting down the days!!
19 January 2017
I am not one of those people who had the nursery tied up with a bow by the time their second trimester rolled around – in fact, we were still adding the finishing touches several months after our girl arrived! On time or not, I’m happy with how my vision came together, and on a budget of less than $500, too. Let’s take a little tour, shall we?
Not to start off on a negative note, but I used Jenny’s pelmet tutorial for the blue buffalo check curtains and MAN it was a beast. I don’t know if I was doing something wrong, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I will begrudgingly admit the pelmet is still on the wall and looks good a year and a half later, though, so I guess it worked out in the end…?
The dresser was a vintage find at the Raleigh Flea Market (I LOVE the color of the wood!), and the painting was a very special gift from one of my best friends – she made it herself after the wallpaper I was considering was discontinued! So talented!!
One of the main differences between my nursery inspiration and June’s finished room is the crib skirt. I originally planned to do blue toile like Jessie, and even ordered a blue toile skirt off of Etsy, but when it arrived it just didn’t seem right. A few months later I bit the bullet on a favorite Liberty of London fabric, and my aunt graciously sewed it into a skirt. The fabric itself was not exactly cheap, but it’s my favorite thing in the room and added the feminine note the space was missing!
That little cat is the first stuffed animal we bought for June, when we were in Paris and I was pregnant!
My amazing aunt also KNIT this horse mobile after I showed her an exorbitantly expensive one I had fallen in love with! I have absolutely zero sewing skills, but it’s definitely a goal of mine to learn so I can one day make my niece or granddaughter’s nursery dreams come true. Gotta pay it forward :)
Let’s talk about one more project that may or may not have been worth my while. We wanted to have a line of scripture or a hymn on June’s walls, and while I considered a beautiful piece from Between You and Me or House of Belonging, I was scared off by their pricing. So I decided to make one myself, and while I am mostly happy with how it turned out, it was a lot of work! AND, I knowingly had to spell one alleluia wrong, because I couldn’t fit another L on that line!! Argh. Oh well…
Missing a few nursery-specific items you expected to see? June’s glider and changing station are both downstairs in our bedroom, because that’s remained our hub of activity for the most part. We also recently hung her baptism cross over her crib, and it’s one of my favorite additions!
I’ve listed sources below, but if you have any questions, ask away! I’m happy with how June’s sweet space came together, and hope you like it, too!
All photos by the very talented Nancy Ray.
Wall paint: Simply White by Benjamin Moore (were I to get a redo I would paint the walls Love & Happiness by Ben Moore instead) | Buffalo check fabric: Calico Corners in Blueberry | Twin bed: Craigslist | Pink pillow: Target | Blue quilt: Garnet Hill | Dresser: Vintage | Wooden frame: Target | Horse painting: Custom | Lamp: Target | Crib: Hand-me-down | Liberty print fabric: Alice Caroline Supply | Mobile: Custom | Sheep rocker: Pottery Barn | Faux sheepskin rug: Ikea | All Creatures art: DIY | Book bin and stool: Homegoods | Sunshine banner: Small Branches | Felt balls for garland: Gracie & Marie | Flush mount light (which you can’t see in these pictures, but is really cute!): Pottery Barn Kids