I’ve realized one thing about myself during quarantine that has genuinely surprised me – I need a deadline. I need a photoshoot date, an event planned, a client meeting, an open-house, literally any date on the calendar because without one I don’t get that much done on my own home. You’d think I would have gotten a lot further on our mountain house exterior than this, which is literally nothing. Not one thing done.
In case you’re wondering what happened to all my big plans from this post, the answer is: I’m still waiting on a lot of my gardening pots/beds BUT I might just go to the store this weekend because I’m dying to plant everything. So this post is just the “what I want to accomplish this summer” post for those on the EHD team who have an exterior space to do anything with. But the legs of my desk are still on paint cans, sitting right next to the leg extensions I ordered, so lower your expectations.
I’m up first with my dining table:
In not-so-shocking news, if you leave your wood indoor table outdoors for a year to endure 2′ of snow, 1/2″ of rain, and immense summer heat all while unprotected, it gets ruined. This was our table for our dining room until we decided to install an amazing built-in. Moving it out to the patio was meant to be temporary. But it’s still out there, and it’s not doing well. In a perfect world, I want a dark (outdoor) table under there so it doesn’t stand out as much. Those chairs from last year, on the other hand, are holding up great.
The only other thing that we are committed to doing this summer is some sort of non-bark ground covering for most of the backyard. Why no bark? Well . . . We may or may not be fostering two rescue dogs (we’re gauging our ability to adding a permanent addition to our family), and depending on how long they are here I’d really like to avoid having them run around on bark all day and track it in. I know that there are sacrifices to having pets (Bearcat, may she rest in peace, used to vomit and shed over everything). I can already see it: These adorable dogs get in our fake stream, roll around in the yard, our backyard becomes a bark and dirt mud pit, and then so does our couch. Anyways, that’s why we’re looking into non-bar alternatives.
I know. It’s pretty anti-climactic. I need a deadline to make it look really awesome with better string lights, pillows, etc. But right now “good enough” is feeling, well, good enough.
MAL’S BACKYARD PLANS
Mallory here. Prepare to enter the ultimate suburban backyard. This, my friends, is where Chase and I have been quarantined for the last few months (his parent’s house). We’ve been slowly upgrading this space day by day, and BOY do we have big hopes and dreams for this backyard. We’re hoping to deck this out as the ultimate budget-friendly outdoor vacation spot meaning that each area can serve its own purpose: There’s a BBQ/outdoor bar area for cooking, a dining area for eating, and an open area for lounging by the fire. Let’s start with the BBQ/dining area:
Here’s some good news to kick it off: We just fixed that built-in BBQ! It’s officially working again for the first time in 10 years! That means we can officially use this space to grill, which is crucial to the design plan obviously. Chase’s dad has already ordered these barstools (which are $150 for a set of 2). So our next goal for this space is to make it as functional as possible, for as little money as possible. We’re planning to clean up the BBQ area a little more by fixing some chipped tiles and upgrade the knobs on the barbecue to something a little less 2005.
As a side note, the other day we rented a power-washer for a few hours and washed off all the nasty dirt that had settled on this back patio throughout the years. Moral of the story: YOU GOTTA TRY THIS. Power-washing this baby was maybe the most fun we’ve had since quarantine started.
The dining area already has a pretty solid layout, and maybe just needs a little table upgrade and a fun rug to add some personality and style to the yard. We found this dartboard that had been hiding in the garage for years and we recently set it up here. It’s honestly so much fun to grill, play, darts, and then eat some dinner in this area and we use it ON THE DAILY. Now let me bring you around the corner to our future lounge . . .
Chase’s parents have this pretty big side yard, but it’s got this big old trampoline (which is definitely a safety hazard to use, but sometimes worth the risk) that was set up smack in the middle of this yard . . . UNTIL LITERALLY YESTERDAY. Here’s what happened. Chase and I were on a lil afternoon walk when we stumbled into that sectional laying in front of a neighbor’s house and it was up for grabs. We hauled it down the block and threw it in the backyard AND NOW OUR LOUNGE DESIGN PLAN IS ABOUT TO BEGIN. We’re thinking of replacing the cushions (as you can see some are literally missing and the others aren’t in awesome shape), adding a rug, some string lights, maybe few more seating options, and possibly even elevating it on a platform/wood deck to create more of a “zone”. Oh, and we’re planning on doing this for very little money, so I’ll be on craigslist and driving by houses to scout for free furniture if you need me. Stay tuned.
RYANN’S BACKYARD PLANS
Hey, it’s Ryann. I love my backyard, but it could be much better. First of all, I really want grass. I hate the dirt and how my dog tracks it all over the house. It basically makes that side of the yard useless for us humans. What activities would I want to do in dirt? The answer is zero. So my first goal is to put grass where the dirt is and remove the concrete steps and bricks on the outer edge. Next, I need storage. By the side of the house we have our cooler and tent just chilling because I have nowhere to put them. We are thinking about getting a medium-sized shed to store those things in so we don’t have to look at them anymore.
The concrete patch is fine and doesn’t bug me too much, it’s really just cosmetic. We need to replace that bench/table set because it is starting to sag and it takes up a lot of room. And I want to get rid of that chair that I’ve left out in the rain way too many times (whoops). I am thinking a circle table and chairs plus an umbrella would be nice. Maybe we’d even have room for a stand-alone hammock. What do you guys think?
Oh and lastly, we need to carve out space to grow our own vegetables. We want a raised garden so our dog does not mess with our vegetables, so we can either put it towards the back of the yard near the rose bushes or somewhere on the concrete. I like the idea of having it where our other plants are, but I am worried it won’t get enough light.
So that’s where I am at. Suggestions are, of course, welcome because I definitely feel a little in over my head 🙂
SARA’S BACKYARD PLANS
Sara here. You guys have already seen my backyard, so you know that one corner of it is happily thriving while the rest of it is . . . not. In a dream world, we’d rip out ALL the concrete and put down pebbles, grass, and a brick patio. But this is not a dream world, and removing concrete is an expensive, labor-inducing task which is probably on the list for next summer. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can’t already get started on. Building a new fence, stuccoing the long cement wall, planting some babies where there is already soil, and adding a raised garden box are all totally possible right now.
IN FACT, as of yesterday, we checked one of those things off our list – New fence BUILT. In total this project took 6 days, cost us $2237.48 in materials, and very luckily cost us zero in labor (thanks dad). Next up is that long cement wall, and maybe even painting the exterior of the house? YOU KNOW HOW I LOVE TO ADD HUGE PROJECTS TO MY ALREADY FULL PLATE.
CAITLIN’S “BACKYARD” PLANS
ACK. OH JEEZ, folks. The last time we chatted, y’all told me to get some jasmine. My local garden center didn’t have it in stock and offered to put in an order for me, but then at the last minute, they were like “hey, actually, this is going to be really brown and maybe kinda gross looking for a chunk of the year, are you sure you want to look at that all the time?”
AND GUYS, I’M NOT SURE. But I’m pretty sure the answer is “no, I don’t think so!!!” (Also, this is a testament to the true value of working with your local nursery! They will take the time to chat with you about your spaces and needs.) Now that EHD has gone permanently WFH, my needs have shifted a lot. I’ve realized that I want privacy, but I also want to be able to look out the window and see cars and people on the street!
I’ve thought about paneling up to the middle bar, but that means that my view would be blocked when I’m sitting at my desk (“view” being a subjective term for a Jack in the Box, an intersection, and a parking garage entrance). I also kind of like the way that light reflects off buildings during sunset and shines back into my place (I face east) and I don’t want to lose it. So, I’m not really sure where to go from here.
My current gut feeling is to get something like this (but a little bigger!), put it up against one of the walls to hold my plants, and then figure out a comfier seating situation. It is way cooler outside on my balcony than it is in my apartment, and I’d like to enjoy it a little bit (it hit 95 in here on Wednesday, even with a window A/C unit and a fan going). But AHH, how do I do it privately without feeling like I’m in a contained box? Am I overthinking the amount of coverage these plants will provide? Probably. If anyone with a small balcony has posted a photo of their setup on Instagram, PLEASE SHARE IT WITH ME.
There you have it, the EHD team, their backyards, and their plans. Some of us are begging for suggestions, so suggest away below!