A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Small Backyard Renovation - Cassie from The Inspired Room

Cassie - TIR

Hello friends! It’s Cassie here again! Thank you all so much for your sweet words and welcoming comments on my first post last month. It was a delight to introduce myself and my home to you. I will also have to do a post in the future on all of the paint colors in our home, as so many of you had questions about them!

This month I am so excited to share with you our backyard renovation that we finished up these past few weeks. This is the time of year when we are all thinking about spring, especially here in Seattle where we have had an odd abundance of sunny days! Thinking about spring leads us to thinking about our yards, flower beds, gardens, and getting those all prepped and ready for summer. This year, my husband and I finally took the leap and redid our yard into something we love, that functions well for our family and lifestyle, and that fixes many of our past issues.

In the past, our yard has been a headache of sorts. As I mentioned in my last post, we moved into our home almost exactly two years ago. It was a new construction home, which has some amazing positives, but also some big negatives. One of those negatives was our yard. Our yard itself wasn’t terrible, but the soil was about the worst I have ever seen. The grass was a constant battle to keep alive between the soil and our doggy friend, and it was near impossible to plant anything due to all the left over construction concrete “rocks” we found. I grew up on a farm and actually enjoy working outside, but this was more of an uphill battle than I had bargained for.

backyard before-patio

Backyard- before

Our very sad yard and not-so-nice aggregate patio

So we sat down and mapped out what we might want to see in our yard. How could we fix the problems we were running into? What would be something we would enjoy maintaining? Would we use the space for for entertaining and/or for our children to play in? Here is a list of what we decided we wanted:

  • low maintenance, but with the possibility of some small container gardens
  • would resist flooding (with the bad soil and drainage, this happened a lot)
  • dog friendly
  • family friendly
  • a space to entertain
  • some way to help hide the house next door
  • more trees and shrubs
  • cost effective long term

We ended up deciding to reduce the size of our actual yard, add more plants, add a pea gravel area for the pup and possible container gardens, and build a deck. The deck was the big item we decided we wanted. We knew it would cost more upfront, but we found that decks (especially composite like we went with) keep their value and can add to your resale value much more than a simple yard renovation.  We also decided to reduce the yard size because we have a huge park with sports fields, two playgrounds, and walking trails directly across the street and knew that we would mostly be playing with our children there in the future.

After getting a few bids for the project, we found a great father-son landscaping company (Helmke’s Landscaping Co. for those in the Seattle/Eastside area!) to do the job. Here is the plan they came up with for us:

Microsoft Word - KulpDwg2015.doc

 Plans designed by Helmke’s Landscaping Co.

They finished the whole project in under three weeks and did a fantastic job. As I mentioned above, we did composite decking. We won’t have to worry about staining it or tiny feet getting slivers. We went with Trex decking in the “Beach Dune” color. This is one of their least expensive options and it looks amazing, especially with the hidden fasteners we used.

Close up of Trex Beach Dune

Trex “Beach Dune”

Small backyard with pea gravel and Trex deck

They selected all of the plants from local nurseries. I gave them a few ideas of plants I liked, but left it up to them to select and place everything. The pea gravel you see above is where we can take our pup out and it super easy to clean. We also are planning to add some container gardens along the side of our house on the pea gravel using these galvanized metal tanks or something similar.

Backyard Trex deck with propane firepit

Sources: Adirondack Chairs (cushions are from World Market, but no longer available), Fire Pit

The pergola they built helps distract from the house next door. Hopefully in the future we will add planters along that side as well. My husband ran out and grabbed this propane fire pit the day the deck was finished. Although we entertain pretty often, it will also be a nice place for the two of us to sit and relax in the evening. 

Small backyard inspiration

Our teeny view of the Cascade mountains in the background. Sources: Table and Chairs, Umbrella

Our landscapers re-soded our lawn and also added soil to the areas where the grass and plants are now. I am hopeful that we can keep things alive!

Before and After - Small Backyard Renovation with a New Deck

We are so pleased with how this project turned out. I know we will use it daily throughout the upcoming spring and summer, and for many many years to come. I hope this inspires you all as you plan and dream up any outdoor plans of your own!

Cassie TIR

17 Take Away Tips from HGTV 2015 Dream Home

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Back Patio

Hello! Have you all seen the HGTV 2015 Dream Home? I just stumbled upon it over the weekend. I love so much about it, I couldn’t stop staring at the photos thinking about all the details! There is much that could be said about this lovely home, but today I thought I would share some take away tips so we could create this feeling or style in our own home! Don’t believe your house could look like this? Well, for most of us, it probably won’t. Let’s be honest. BUT, there are design lessons to be found and plenty of inspiration to motivate us so let’s take a look at this fine house and see what we can learn and take away!

Take Away Tips - The Inspired Room

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Built in Bookcases and Fireplace in Great Room

1. Built -ins

I’m a sucker for built-ins. They add so much character! Sadly I don’t have any in my house, but they are on my list of dream additions for some day. I have had aspirations of adding built-ins to this house, but I’m still deciding whether or not the cost would be worth it to me if we ever moved. Not that I’m planning on moving (I’m loving staying put these days!), but our son will graduate from high school in a little over four years (NO!!!! Stop the clock, please!) so I know life will change. And with change comes new possibilities and opportunities, so I’m keeping an open mind.

Built-ins have to stay with the house, obviously, so that’s why I’ve been going the route of adding furniture rather than built-ins. With that said, in many houses built-ins add good value so they are worth considering and investing in. In some cases, adding built ins can be even more cost effective and make better use of space than free standing furniture, especially if you can do the work yourself or have a good affordable contractor. You can also get the look with free standing furniture nestled into feel more built in.

The backs of the bookcases are emphasized with dark paint, which adds even more drama and interest to the built ins.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Connected Living Room Dining ROom and Kitchen

2. Large rooms can have multiple seating areas and purposes.

This large room has a seating area, a dining area and extra chairs dispersed around the room. Large rooms can be awkward to furnish, so dividing the room into usable zones can make sense of all the space. See my post with 10 Tips for Styling Large Living Rooms & Other Awkward Spaces for more advice on furniture arranging!

HGTV Dream Home 2015 Great Room Design - Neutral with Pops of Blue

3. Repeating elements.

I love the repetition throughout the room.  Notice what elements are repeated! The blue fabrics and art, the dormer windows on each side of the room, the two matching dressers, pairs of chairs, and the three curtain rods with curtains that unify the door with the two windows.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Great Room

4. Classic pieces.

Notice the use of classic furniture, fabric, and the overall timeless design choices. Buying furniture in classic styles and fabrics is a great investment, as they will make a home feel just as fresh even years later!

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Dining Room Design

5. Bold statement lighting.

Wimpy lighting in a big room like this would be lost. But you don’t want to get carried away and add something so crazy dramatic that it distracts from your room. This lantern is a great example of statement lighting that fits into a room. It has enough character and style to hold it’s own in a big room like this, but also has enough glass to make it light and airy enough to not be a distraction.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Dining Room View Into Great Room

6. Architectural detail.

The high cathedral ceilings and walls are covered with white painted wood paneling, textural rustic wood beams contrast to the white wood, skylights and windows add unique shapes and trim work is interesting throughout the space. While your room might not be as dramatic as this one (if it is, SEND ME PICS! I want to see!!!), adding even small touches of architectural detail can make a dramatic step towards the feeling you like. I have added small bits of architectural detail to every home I’ve had and it really does make a difference. Even if you don’t own your home or cannot directly add to the structure, adding in architectural detail in non-permanent ways can transform a space.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Dining Room with High Ceilings

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Great Room - Wood Floors and Wood Beams

7. Warm wood.

All white rooms are lovely but it’s the contrast between the white and the warm that bring a room to life. In a big room like this, the wood grounds the space and makes it cozier. (See my post with more white and wood inspiration here!)

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Great Room Vaulted Ceiling

HGTV Dream Home 2015- White Kitchen Design with Wood Countertops

8. Cozy kitchen.

For the grandeur of that great room, I was pleased to see the manageable scale of the kitchen. It’s tucked into a smaller niche, which makes it feel cozier and more homey. The scale of the island is in good proportion to the room (an island that is too big makes a room feel awkwardly designed, is more challenging to clean and makes maneuvering around the room less efficient). While the kitchen isn’t huge it offers everything you need in close proximity and plenty of counter space for multiple cooks. While it has the more comfortable feeling of a separate kitchen, it is open enough to the great room that the chef can still feel a part of the activities.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - White Kitchen French Doors

9. Light and airy.

If you are building or remodeling, more windows and skylights can transform a room and your mood!

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Kitchen View to Living Room

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Wood Beams on Ceiling

10. Rugs.

A large area rug grounds the conversation area and makes it feel cozier.

HGTV Dream Home 2015- Great Room - Natural Light

11. Color flow.

Notice the blue art in the room just beyond the great room. It invites you to the next space with the pop of familiar blue. In the hallway on the other side of the room, you are drawn in to the repetition of blue on the lamp, but also the warmth of the lamp and console table, and the blue room beyond.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Dining Room and Hallway

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Navy Blue Lamp - Hallway

12. Shades of Color

I love this home’s shades of blue throughout. Sea blue, navy, dark teal, baby blue, gray-blue, royal blue, and turquoise flow throughout the home on ceilings, walls, rugs and accessories. The various shades make the home interesting! While the blue of the bedroom below is a little bright for me in an entire room, check out the blue ceiling a couple of photos down. Color is a personal thing, so whether you choose to add it on the walls, to accessories, to textiles, on rugs, or painted ceilings, there are so many ways to bring shades of colors you love into a room.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 Blue Master Bedroom - Cathedral Ceiling

HGTV Dream Home 2015 Master Bedroom French Doors

HGTV Dream Home 2015 Blue Master Bathroom

13. Views of outdoor spaces

My dream has always been to work on both the inside and outside of my home so I can enjoy the outside even when I’m in! Since we live in the NW we have nice weather in the summer and fall, but it isn’t like San Diego or any place where you might be able to live outside year round. It’s nice if you can have a yard that is pretty enough to look at, even from inside, so you can enjoy it in all seasons. This house is obviously amazing and I certainly don’t have this type of view or amazing architecture to look at, but I try to find happiness even in small improvements to what I have.

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Guest Bedroom Corner Patio

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Guest Bedroom Private Patio - Singled Exterior

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Master Bedroom Outdoor Lounge

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Master Bedroom Patio with French Doors

14. Small outdoor rooms

While this home has some amazing outdoor rooms and patios with views, you can make the most of even small areas by furnishing them with comfortable spots for lounging and relaxing. Add details like you would add to an interior room: small coffee tables, lanterns, and even pillows for sunny days!

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Exterior Design - Patio with French Doors

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Back Patio with Copper Exterior Lighting

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Copper Outdoor Exterior Lighting

15. Unique outdoor lighting

These copper lanterns are unique and make interesting statements on the house. Scour old house part stores to find lighting or lanterns you can have refurbished for your home!

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Patio with Outdoor Lounge Furniture

16. Unexpected surprises

I dream of fun unexpected surprises outside to make our small property fun and interesting! What about an outdoor shower or a super cute dog house or charming shed?

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Outdoor Shower - Shingles

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Outdoor Shower

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Outdoor Shower and Dog House

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Exterior and Bike Rack

17. Curb appeal.

I’m really into the curb appeal of a home. While my budget doesn’t always match my dreams, it’s fun to think about what details would be fun to add or ways I could add them for less. A tidy yard and shrubs, shutters, window boxes, a place for bikes…what details could you add for curb appeal?

HGTV Dream Home 2015 - Front Entrance

OK, that was the longest list of take aways ever. And I don’t feel like I even scratched the surface of all the beautiful ideas one could incorporate to even a more modest home.

What more would you add to the list of take aways? What were your favorites?

Be sure to go see all the galleries for the HGTV Dream Home! There were so many inspiring spaces that I didn’t include here so enjoy the rest over at HGTV!

Exterior Lighting {Charming Outdoor Lanterns}

White Farmhouse Exterior - Copper Outdoor Lanterns and Sconces - Southern Living Idea House 2012 - Historical ConceptsSouthern Living Idea House by Historical Concepts

One of my favorite design elements in a home is charming outdoor lighting. I’ve added an outdoor lantern to the porch of almost every house we have owned in the past. So far in this house we haven’t changed any outdoor lighting, but these delightful ideas are inspiring me!

White Paneled Outdoor Shower - Turquoise Lantern - Outdoor Lighting - by Jen Langston interiorsJen Langston Interiors

White Exterior - Hanging Lantern - Outdoor Lighting - T Olive Propertiest-Olive Properties

Outdoor Lighting Ideas - LanternsBHG

Outdoor Lighting Ideas - Lantern Sconces by the Front DoorBHG

Exterior Lighting Ideas - Lanterns on a Gate ArborBHG

White Farmhouse - Wraparound Porch with Hanging LanternsWendy Posard & Associates (you might remember this one from one of my all-time favorite dream house tours in this post!)

Archer and Buchanan Architecture Ltd - Lantern on Light Post - Exterior LightingArcher and Buchanan Architecture Ltd, Bryn Coed Farm 

Outdoor Exterior Lighting Ideas - Copper LanternsBHG

The Inspired Room Dining Room - Christmas Decorating and 2014 House Tour

I know we just took a sudden jump inside after checking out some exteriors :), but don’t forget you can use outdoor lighting inside too! Many of the lights in my home are actually labeled as outdoor lighting, including my dining room light! See the source list for all of my lighting here!

PS. It’s time for nominations at the Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Blogger Awards! I was beyond honored to receive the Reader’s Favorite Decorating Blog 2014. This year’s nominations are open now and it’s super easy to do! Thank you all so much for your support!

Related Posts:

Curb Appeal: 3 Memorable Exteriors

Curb Appeal Wish List

My Hanging Faceted Terrarium {on the front porch!}

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