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The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}Dutch door entry via BHG

We have dreams of our 1950s brick house evolving to the more updated modern cottage vibe she wants (she, meaning the house, that is, ha!) inside and out. So to get that under way, we need to take care of some functional elements to make the cosmetic updates really shine. You know how I feel about putting “lipstick on a donkey,” as hard as it is to wait for the pretty finishing elements like lighting, paint, cute doors and accessories, you have to get the foundation right for those details to make sense.

As I mentioned awhile back, our new house had one big drawback for buyers, it needed a sewer repair. UGH. Nothing says FUN TIMES like spending a fortune on a pipe that goes underground to carry sewage, right? I mean, just imagine the lovely sewer inspiration pictures I could feature so you could pin on your Pinterest boards! This is a BLOGGER’S DREAM PROJECT<< NOT. But not to worry, I won’t subject you to too many sewer pics, :) but I will show you the project and driveway once it’s done.

The good news is, I think I’ve found a silver lining to this sewer project, thanks to the domino effect we have a much more enjoyable project just beginning.

Because we will have to haul tons of concrete away when we work on the sewer through the driveway, it makes sense to remove and replace our crazy side yard concrete and scary steps at the same time.

Behold the following before pics. 

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

This area is quite a hazard for people and dogs, and not the most practical features to have right outside the kitchen or leading to the backyard.

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

See what I’m saying? Not the safest or most practical. And weird.

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

This side yard is right outside our kitchen door, the one pictured above is where envision a Dutch door (remember the inspiration for the Dutch door in the kitchen, via this post? This is the exterior shot of that same door). I’m dreaming a lot about that Dutch door. :)

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

Now there is another related project that also jump started our plans (in true domino fashion) for this project, our neighbors are building a brand new house! It’s going to be beautiful. Part of their project plans involved a retaining wall and a brand new fence between our properties. Ever since we moved in, their property has been torn up as a part of their build project, so we’ve had to live with a bit of resulting chaos in our yard.

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

Because there is currently NO fence between us, after we took this photo we had to pile up outdoor furniture and other barriers around our patio and between our houses as a temporary fence (where that leaning wired fencing and plastic version was for awhile) in hopes of keeping our dogs safe when they go in out to our yard :(. It’s been difficult keeping them in this past few months, and I really hate how messy our yard has looked! Obviously, it’s been pretty ugly out there. I’m sure other neighbors think we are hoarders, or something. It definitely looks like it.

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

Just recently, the next door neighbors installed the short cement retaining wall between our two properties and soon (I hope!) a six foot fence will be built on top of that. Their project is a bonus for us, as it will give us a nice new border for our little side yard so when our own cement, new steps and gate are built, it will be a fun place for potted plants, but also a functional space for recycling and possibly our BBQ grill.

We even are considering having a small “doggy potty” area, so in the winter time our pups won’t run around in the bigger backyard mud when it is raining out. They can simple go out the kitchen door, take care of business, and come back in.

I also dream of string lights between the house and the fence, because string lights in a backyard and side yard are ALWAYS a good idea.

Here are a few pretty side yard inspiration pictures I’ve been looking at (not necessarily what we will be doing, ours will likely start out more simple and functional) but just because it is fun to dream of the possibilities!

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}BHG

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}
BHG (nice solution for concealing trash cans!)

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}

The Kitchen Side Yard {New Project!}BHG

Even though we’ll be working on the side yard (and sewer), I’m still proceeding ahead with fun plans for INSIDE the house. Over the holidays I had a BRAND NEW idea for our kitchen that I haven’t yet shared. :) I cannot wait to tell you about it and start posting our inspiration pics and plans.

I’ll be updating you on the twists and turns in our current ideas, the latest dining room thoughts, the living room project we want to tackle next, our bedroom paint update and of course, I will continue to show you around the house and rooms we haven’t yet discussed.

If all goes according to my plans, it is going to be a very fun year for house projects! How about you, do you have some fun projects in the works? Tell me about them!

Related Posts:

My Previous Backyard Tour (pea gravel patio, flagstone and secret garden)

Our Seattle House Tour Video (the before)

How to Add Personality to a Small Outdoor Space (our guide on eBay)


  1. Anne

    Hi, Melissa–

    Bravo for you making lemonade out of lemons (err, sewer projects). Probably this is something you have investigated, but we have a “trenchless” pipe/sewer repair company here, who are able to inject new pipes through old pipes’ linings. If you pipe is fully collapsed, that can be a problem, and obviously there are some things you want to do with the concrete layout. But sometimes for cost, it is worth investigating.

    The other thing I wanted to mention in case you find it helpful: recently I purchased a “Miracle Mat” (door mat) from Costco after seeing the demonstration (Amazon has them too). They are expensive, but absolutely amazing for taking mud off dogs’ and peoples’ feet in a step or two. Of course, they don’t remove mud from the whole dog, LOL. But they really help. . .. something you might wish to consider, living in the rainy NW.

    Happy New Year!

    Good luck with your projects!

    • Melinda Young

      Thanks for the Miracle Mat tip! I am going on-line now looking!!!!

  2. Lynn Marie

    Aahhh…..the sliver lining to the sewer project! Isn’t it such a blessing when these kind of things work out?
    I love the ideas and can’t wait to see the outcome.

  3. Ann

    You are certainly not alone with your 50’s house and sewer issues! We live in the state just south of you in a 50’s neighborhood and were told last week by the plumbing company of the methods used during that time of construction and that most of us will be doing what you face now before we can sell due to some new codes. So don’t shield us from the sewer details! Perhaps we can learn with you! Love your inspiration photos – it’s going to be fabulous!

  4. Lesa Schell

    So excited for you I wish for something like this. But right now we are savings for foundation and roof problems. Due to the drought we had our home is shifted so bad. I am praying for a miracle to happen. Always love your beautiful pictures tho.

  5. Jo Jo

    Love your positive and creative outlook on your sewer project and side yard project! The neighbors new retaining wall is a nice gift for you all too and can’t wait to see how you work around and with it. Sweet dreams for your Dutch door. ❤️❤️❤️

  6. Debbie from MountainMamaOnline

    I am loving every single one of those inspiration photos! Winter has truly taken it’s time arriving to my mountain home but now you’ve got me dreaming of spring! Good luck with your projects – can’t wait to see what you do!

  7. Wendy Johnson

    I don’t want to sound dumb, I like the looks of the door but how do you keep bugs out? I live in Michigan and every creepy thing God ever made would be flying in.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Fortunately here in the NW we don’t have many bugs. Otherwise, yeah, that would be an issue. I have seen screen doors for Dutch doors so I suppose that might be a good option as well! :)

  8. Melinda Young

    I loved reading this post. We had a “domino” project going on for a long while (still going). It started with a “sewer line” too. My mother-in-law said, “call your insurance company”, what great advise was that! God bless my mom-in-law and God bless my oldest son who was snooping around the front lawn and found a “hole”, which turned out to be a 5′ deep hole and uncovered the big problem. It did solve the mystery of why are toilets “bubbled” at times and some other strange things that would happen.
    Long story short, new driveway and new walkway, led to new retaining wall and new fence. Which we have a neighbor who is 89 and has collected A LOT of things over time and with no fence for 5 months, it was clear that well, he had quite a “collection”. We had a temporary “orange” fence to coral kids and flying balls, which over time I started to admire how the orange made the plants really stand out. Still very grateful for the new fence. Good luck with your domino project. I love your ideas!!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Ha, sounds great! I might need to find one of those orange fences until we get the new one installed!

      • Melinda Young

        As unattractive as the orange temporary fences are, it was very helpful. Our contractor provided it. Maybe one your contractors will have one too??? :)

  9. Louise

    The pictures of possibilities and options are so wonderful–the wood door open just enough to make that curvy walkway look irresistible–and the soft rounded-corner pathway bricks in another pic–I’m sure you’ll have visions of May flowers for the entire sewer project! Hope you do, anyway!

  10. Ms. Maggie the Elder

    It is always hard to be patient with neighbors when they remodel- we are going through some of those pains at the city house too. But it improves the neighborhood so you have to say: I will smile through the mess and noise and be a good neighbor. PS I am reminded by the one question about bugs from my old home state of MI- we sure are blessed in the PNW not to have to many of them- they get drowned out in the spring~~~ so smile though your heart (and head) is . . . and start yours soon they get the same pleasures (?) as you have gotten!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes, we are are lucky here, we don’t have many of those flying or crawling critters trying to come in the house! :) Thank you, Maggie! We are pleased when people improve their homes around us so even though it’s not always easy to deal with it, during the construction phase, it’s a good thing!! :-D

  11. Karen on Bainbridge Island

    My own lipstick on the donkey is the fact that we have to replace our heat pump. The upside is the unit that sits at the back of the garage and is an eyesore and stumbling block to our future garden plans will be moved to the other side of the house where we will never see it. Yay!

    Love the ideas you have for the new yard. It’s a process isn’t it?

  12. Carol Taylor

    We are also working on a remodeling of a home we bought three years ago. We are close to being complete on the interior projects. Down to redoing the kitchen cabinets. This involves painting…upper white…lower black, inserting glass in the uppers and new trim on the lowers. We have already retiled the floor, painted the walls, added and changed out light fixtures and replaced the appliances and countertops. This house has been a little bit more than we anticipated. My husband would say that my constantly coming up with new ideas would be the cause. Thank goodness, I married a patient man. I have enjoyed the projects. Look forward to following your posts and progress. Have fun and don’t get frustrated.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Ha! Same situation is often the case here. My most frequent line in this house is “I have an idea!” … it always strikes a bit of amusement and probably panic in my husband :). Have fun with your kitchen! Sounds lovely.

  13. patricia

    We’ve already relined our side sewer, they used hot air to push the new lining thru the crumbling old pipe so only two small sections of ourpavershadto be dug out and relaid. It wasn’t too bad being without toilets for two days, but nothing I ever want to repeat. No fun spending huge chunks of money with nothing pretty to enjoy. Good luck with your project.

  14. Tracey Cross

    Thank you for the inspiration. I have a little side yard as well that is a work in progress and which has all sorts of issues going on so wonderful to see what can be done in such a small space. IM dreaming of string lights too.

  15. K McLaughlin

    OH, Honey! We did the lovely sewer line extravaganza in the basement last spring. 40′ of jack hammer then cement over the lovely new pipe. Sort of like buying new tires for your car. You feel better knowing you have them, but it’s expensive and you can’t show it off!

  16. teresa

    What a view you have…and I love all your ideas! I have always enjoyed following along on your home makeovers! We are building so that is what we are working on… I get so many great ideas from you.
    Happy Day…(wish you lived closer…would love for you to walk through our build and give me ideas =)

  17. Colleen

    Love the doggy potty area idea. I just installed a dog door in our garage and today the fence is going up to turn part of the attached side yard into a dog run on concrete and dirt with bark chips. We live on a horse property so our dogs are can get super dirty when it’s wet. This way they will access to a warm(er) garage when we’re out and will stay cleaner, I hope! The dutch door is so cute – have fun!

  18. Mark

    Love your positive and creative outlook on your sewer project and side yard project! Love the doggy potty area idea.


    Love your ideas and the dutch door will be amazing and fun!! Why is it that most projects become the domino project. One thing always leads to another.

  20. Corinna - A Designer At Home

    Omg, omg. Melissa! What rock have I fallen under?! This is the first I’m seeing of your new house and I’m in love! I, too, live in a 1950s brick ranch so I am ON IT to follow your cottage-ifying process because that’s exactly what I want for mine. <3

  21. Brenna@DomesticCharm

    Oh, Melissa, I will be beautiful when it is all over! Just hang in there during the mess.

  22. Shauna

    Late in commenting, but just in case no one said it, PLEASE tell us all about the sewer project. It’s part of life and many of us would learn from your experience and clear explanations. Plus it makes the “pretty” projects stand out that much more.
    By the way, although I was born and raised in the Seattle area (and have a planned retirement home in the area) I now live in the French Alps. Not the same climate–in fact I really miss the humidity. Do enjoy!

  23. Dawn

    BeAutiful !!

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