Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}

Small outdoor space – inspiration via My Domaine

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a great weekend. I’ll admit I didn’t watch the Superbowl (heh, anyone else?), but if you did and your team won, HOORAY!

Our side yard project is just barely getting underway, but it’s great to see things starting to happen! The space for the patio has been dug out and the framing for the steps has begun. I’ve been so excited to give you an update of some of our plans for this space. Today there should be more progress made, so I’ll keep you posted on the latest.

If you are just catching up, we are working on some landscape updating to our driveway and a side patio area, you can see my past posts here!.

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}

See the before photo of the area, above. This was before we bought the house, looking from the back of the house towards the front yard. It was a little choppy.

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}Before

A beautiful brand new house is being built next door, so there is a lot of building and construction going on right now between their home and our exterior projects. It was good timing to do our project, though, because the fencing that will be built on a new retaining wall between the two houses can all tie in together as a finishing touch to our little courtyard-like area.

And as long as we were planning on all this concrete work in the side yard and garage driveway, we thought to ourselves, WHY NOT add an extra driveway, too? Funny how these projects, grow, right? There just happened to be a perfectly flat area near our other driveway (just outside our side yard, with access to the street, see below) for an extra parking spot. In a busy city, that’s GOLD. We are lucky, our street is actually exceptionally quiet, with no traffic at all, and has plenty of parking, but you can always use another spot for parties or parking an extra vehicle.

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}

Since our main driveway is at a slope towards a lower level garage, we will also enjoy having a perfectly flat space to pull up and unload groceries into our kitchen. This was previously just a place for weeds to grow, so the driveway will be less work for us and overall a more attractive area, too. To soften the hard edges between the fence and the driveway, we’ll be adding a couple of pots with trees or some other greenery. There will be a short fence to the right of the driveway.

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}Jenny Wolf / Photo by Emily Gilbert

At the end of our new driveway will be a new gate and a fence (the inspiration we chose for the gate is above). The gate will spring shut and be locked for safety, yet it will be so convenient to be able to load groceries and things into the house.

The plan for the side yard area is to first and foremost make it safe for people and pets (it will be fully enclosed by a new fence and gates to the front and backyard). A new concrete patio will be poured. I will draw out a plan with measurements for you, along with one for the kitchen remodel, soon. I know that will help you to better visualize the space and plan!

When we remodel the kitchen (scroll through all my kitchen inspiration so far here), we envision this fairly small outside area to be a natural extension of that space. We picture a convenient place to BBQ, a comfy spot to sit and watch the sunsets, or a quiet space to sip coffee on a warm summer morning! I’m also planning on planting a small “kitchen garden” in pots since this space will be so easily accessed from the kitchen!

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}

We are rebuilding new safer concrete steps, with a handrail and built-in lights for safety. As you can see, there isn’t a ton of room here, but the new patio area at the top of those steps will make much better use of the small space. And the steps will be so much easier to navigate than the set up we had before. Once the patio area is enclosed by a tall fence and gates, it will feel much more private, too!

The new house next door is quite large, but will be beautiful, so I’m really excited about it being my neighboring house. Their lower level windows are smaller and high up, so privacy won’t really be an issue in our space. The fences will be set up on a cement retaining wall between our houses, which will enclose the space nicely!

We decided to add inset lights to be installed on the side of a low cement planter wall that will be right next to our steps. I also plan to add string lights for sparkle and ambience at night!

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}

Our side porch will be updated with new post columns and and a railing on one side (similar to the railing design, above). We will be adding copper caps to fence posts, too! A snazzier light fixture will replace a security light by the door that is not functioning, and of course, at some point, we’ll be painting the brick to be more ‘cottage-like’ (and adding our DUTCH DOOR!).

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}BHG

This is the inspiration photo for the double gate that will be between the side yard patio (at the end of the new steps) and the backyard, as a way to keep our dogs corralled in the patio area in muddy weather (there will also be an enclosed dog potty area accessible from the side yard so they can go in and out without running all over the entire yard), or vice versa as a way to keep them safe in the backyard if we are loading things from the driveway into the house.

We won’t actually add the arbor, though, (although it’s so charming, perhaps we will find another place for one like it!) because we don’t want to obstruct the view of the water and sky in any way from the upper side patio.

The double gate will not only be functional and a super cute new feature in the yard, but it will be nice to be able to have both gates wide open for entertaining and ease of access.

Eventually my goal is that the design updates we make in this area will carry through to complement the front exterior and interior as well, creating an inviting house with cohesive character, inside and out. That is my dream, anyway. All in good time!

I will share updated photos as soon as the concrete is poured! It’s going to be fun to see this little area take shape with more function, character and style. I think it will inspire me all the more in designing the inside of the house, knowing this charming courtyard area is right outside the kitchen!

More details to come!

Our Small Side Yard Project {Plans, Inspiration & Update}


  1. It is very funny how the little improvements tend to turn into major changes sometimes! The driveway addition is awesome, we would love to expand ours someday and the poured cement is such a better choice than regular asphalt driveway. So happy to see these improvements, curb appeal and adding value to your new home, Win, Win!!!

  2. Looking forward to seeing the end result! Love your inspiration pics. We are working on an outdoor courtyard project too and it’s sooooo torn up right now that I have to stare at my inspiration board everyday to keep from panicking! Lol it’s good to feel your enthusiasm in your writing as it reminds me to keep an eye on the end game and not the disaster I am looking at currently.

  3. Melissa, I love your idea of having a mud-free area for your dogs, and the gates will be so charming and functional! I love seeing your ideas and updates on the house.

  4. Your ideas are right on! It’s going to be beautiful! You have wonderful vision, Melissa! So much fun seeing it taking shape. Love the little details i.e. The copper inset lights on the patio stairs and putting copper caps on the fence posts…brilliant. ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Andrea M. Schnapp says:

    I think your plan sounds wonderful and I look forward to the seeing the outcome. One tip, you pour concrete, not cement. Cement is an ingredient in concrete. Keep up the great work. I love your book, .the Inspired Room!

  6. good luck with this project! I know it’s going to be amazing and can’t wait to see the after’s!

  7. Seems like you’ve beautifully thought out every inch! Looking forward to seeing the progress!

  8. I can’t wait to see the finished patio
    The gate is beautiful –
    Have a wonderful week
    Much love,

  9. It’s going to so beautiful when it’s done, Melissa, and it won’t take very long because your dreams are your reality – they just haven’t actualized yet, and I think your ability to inspire yourself as well as all of us increases every day. No similar project for me but still so excited to see the outcome of yours.

  10. Hi
    Can you change the Deal Alert at the bottom of your post? I keep hoping the date will change from last October to now for another special price on your book.

  11. Loving all your inspiration photos. This space is going to be wonderful! Great idea to do that extra driveway. Perfect for loading groceries into the house, etc.

    I’m really enjoying watching this project come together!

  12. Oh boy, I really can picture how lovely it will all be when it’s done!!! Love the BHG inspiration photo from a few posts ago…with the painted brick and pergola over the carriage-style garage door…and the dutch door? Perfect.: ) Fun to watch the progress – the results will be beautiful but the process is fun too!!!
    Leah: )

  13. Happy to be along on your journey and be inspired.

  14. Cool! I just love that you’re doing this in tandem with that new house going up! What a great big blessing to coordinate by chance, by choice!

    Thanks for the emphasis on reclaiming little spaces. Golden!


  15. That area is really coming along! It looks great!

  16. Im new to your blog but you must live in the south because it looks like decent weather where you live.

    Your gate inspirations are gorgeous and I really can hardly wait for the end reveal.

    Love the copper lights you picked as well.

  17. Wow. I didn’t even know you had all this planning going on for the outside as well as all those indoor ideas!! Busy bees. Everything sounds exact. Love the plans. And icing on the cake? -those sparkling string of lights ♡

  18. This is so pretty and I am so excited for you! I love your inspiration photos.

  19. Linda Grubbs says:

    Oh boy!!!! Loving the whole project ….xo

  20. It’s looking great Melissa! So excited to following along and the final reveal.

  21. Isn’t it fun to dream and plan! The side yard is going to be so charming! Happy Day…..so excited for you!

  22. It sounds wonderful and so charming. I hope this summer will see you enjoying it all.

  23. I am loving being able to follow along with your though process as you make this new house your forever home! I can’t wait to see the finished side yard – no doubt it will be super charming!

  24. Love the privacy gate, and I think it’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing this project!

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