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 Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal
inspiration from Better Homes and Gardens

Greetings! I meant to post yesterday, but time got away from me. Projects and ideas are happening so fast around here, I have tons to share so I need to keep up or you’ll get behind!

If you are just catching up or new around these parts (did you know that 60% of my readers are new to the blog?), I’ve already shared several of our vision posts for the interior rooms in our new house (scroll through the previous posts here), as well as inspiration for new gates in our side yard, located just outside the kitchen. While I’m really excited about working on the inside, the outside of our house is going to get a little facelift, too. In fact, a few of our projects are already underway!

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

This is the humble little exterior of our 1950s house, in a photo taken shortly before we moved in. It’s a small one story brick ranch style home with a basement, a pretty common type of house (although we do have a great mix of styles in our area from quality new construction and remodeled homes from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s). This particular style of house is not one I’d normally pick out of a neighborhood as my favorite, but because it’s such a good solid house and sits on a nice sized lot (for Seattle) with a beautiful view (among other reasons we like it!), we knew we could make this house our home.

My goal for the exterior is to give her some curb appeal. The cute house from Better Homes & Gardens at the top of this post has inspired me with what she could become! As you might remember, we had to start most of our bigger projects on the exterior of our home because (besides her 1950s facade that is just begging for a new fresh look) she had a 1950s sewer that had holes in it, so it was high time for a repair.

Many of the best home remodeling stories seem to start with something rather unfortunate, don’t they? Ours certainly does.

It all started with the sewer …

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Our sewer line runs under our driveway, which meant our cement had to be dug out in order to do the updating of the sewer. Since our driveway was pretty cracked anyway I didn’t feel too bad about repaving it. Besides, the garage door wasn’t able to fully shut because the drain system for the steep driveway was previously located inside the garage. And since the garage door was always open a crack to accommodate drainage, it was like a WELCOME HOME SIGN to any neighborhood rodents looking for a warm dry place to curl up for the night.

Y’all know that arrangement didn’t make me happy one bit. I worried and fretted about that possibility for the past few months while we were making arrangements to replace the sewer. As my luck would have it, we indeed had a furry rodent in the garage a couple of weeks ago. I thought I was going to CRAWL OUT OF MY SKIN when my husband told me he caught a giant rat in his trap. My dad and sister thought it was hilarious and texted me photos of disgusting rodents 24/7. I wasn’t amused.

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Driveway before

If you look close at the above before photo of our driveway, you’ll see our lame attempt under the garage door to keep the rodent out…clearly bubble wrap isn’t a deterrent.

Anyway, the rat is a goner now and I’m happy to say our new drain and repaved driveway have been installed and the garage door is now closed off to future rodents. They also were able to make the driveway a little less steep, so all in all it was a worthwhile project!

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Here are some photos of the driveway in progress this week! It’s not anything super fancy, but it has laid a nice foundation for us to move on to the prettier details.

There is little that is more thrilling to me as a home-lover than the sound of home improvement! As always, one project leads to the next, so as long as we had a contractor available with the machines and tools to rip out the driveway (conveniently, our contractor is also building a house next door so the home improvement bug is definitely spreading far and wide), it was a good time to rip out the crazy cement blocks in our side yard, too. The blocks were an accident-waiting-to-happen. If you missed my post about that space, catch up here! I’ll share our entire design vision for the side yard, and the latest progress on that project this week, too.

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

But besides catching you up on our driveway project, I wanted to start talking about our visions of curb appeal for the exterior of our house. While it would be really fun to be able to do something more significant right now, our makeover to the exterior (besides the new driveway and side yard) will be mostly easy cosmetic updates.

I’ll be sharing many more posts with our ideas, inspiration photos and dreams of possibilities, but today we can at least get our creativity flowing by talking about some of the easiest ways to update a house that could use a little curb appeal.

The most significant update we are planning on in the (hopefully) near future is that we will be painting or lime washing the brick exterior. I know that idea might upset some of you purists, and others of you will be elated and relieved to see this home transformed. I have nothing against brick houses, I have seen some really lovely brick homes that I wouldn’t choose to paint. I know painting brick can be a divisive topic, but no matter what side you are on, the important thing is that our house and her family will be very happy with her new look!

I’ll gather up inspiration photos of painted brick houses and charming cottages to share with you in an upcoming post. But for now, below, imagine if our house was painted!

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

I have visions of paint, shutters, window boxes, a trellis above the garage, a new porch, refreshed landscaping, updated lighting and other charming details.

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Excuse our Photoshop skills, but we had fun giving our house some character and new features, just imagining possibilities! By the way, we didn’t try different landscaping in these mockups, just left it as is and had fun with the house features. Clearly some new landscaping would help, too!

You really can transform the look and feel of a house in big and small ways, with a little reimagining. We may or may not end up with these exact ideas, but it is fun to dream. I’ll have lots more inspirations photos for the exterior, soon. 

We cannot wait to transform our home to a more modern cottage style outside with a touch of farmhouse inside. She’ll still be the same ol’ 1950s girl at heart, just more spunk. 

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal
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