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Exterior Update: Our Herringbone Brick Patio Is *Almost* Installed

Good news, friends. We have some solid hardscape before the rain begins and it turned out STUNNING. There is a lot left to do of course (a full tour coming at you very soon) but this side of the house is coming along and I feel so so grateful that we can walk in and out of the house without tracking in as much mud or dirt. And it’s just so gorgeous – I’m extremely relieved, impressed, grateful – all the things. So here we go …

The Yardzen Plan

Here’s a reminder that we worked with Yardzen to do the design of this area, so I had hope that this was going to look beautiful – these renderings were proof.

A few things to note that have to do with the brick. 1. We chose to go all the way to the house instead of leaving a planting zone. I think/hope this was the right decision. I know that a bed of plants would have softened the wall obviously and hid the foundation (that looks great in the renderings but less great in the photos), but we’ve been told by countless Oregonians to give ourselves some hardscape areas without dirt (aka mud). Now as of right now this area isn’t covered so can we really hang out there in the rain? Nah. But I hope that having less dirt there means just a cleaner winter for us. So right now the brick up to the foundation looks a little ‘meh’. Nothing some pretty pots can’t fix 🙂

Also, the brick pattern has changed. The plan was to do this Spanish running bond – a pattern where all the brick comes into the center. We requested this because we thought it would be more interesting and less expected than a herringbone, but I wasn’t convinced it was going to have the payoff that we wanted. So we switched to a classic herringbone and I’m so happy we did.

We have also changed the pea gravel to flagstone – mostly to keep down the mess – and we extended the brick to go to the edge of the house. I’m sure you all have different experiences with this but the reason that we went with pea gravel originally was that the material is a lot cheaper, but I guess the prep work to do it right can be comparable. Mostly, we decided to switch it because we wanted it to be more rustic and natural throughout the entire property, which meant that we wouldn’t have these steel edge liners everywhere or rocks to keep the gravel in. It was honestly a month-long debate and came down to our personal preference of wanting the more organic shape of the stone. More on that later (it won’t be mortar set together, instead more like stepping stones embedded in the grass).

It’s going to look like that someday!!!! We didn’t do brick everywhere for cost reasons (which I’ll break down below). It’s also more formal which we didn’t want everywhere.

Some Brick Facts:

  1. This install is very laborious. If you are attempting to do this there are obviously multiple steps to do it right – grading, prepping with gravel, compacting the gravel, they had to build a dry well that met up with the downspout for proper drainage, irrigate and stub up underneath the brick for future pots, measure extremely accurately for the pattern to look perfect, etc. Our team did about a week of prep before they even touched the brick. Then a full 6 days of install with 3 guys (it’s the cutting, y’all). They did an EXCELLENT job (I will of course credit/link them as we get closer to the end of the project).
  2. We needed about 1k square feet of brick which cost around $9k. I’m not totally sure how much the install costs (it’s wrapped up in other costs and was only an initial budget number) but I think around 10k. Not nothing, folks. But those are the facts – and remember our patio is pretty large.
  3. We bought the brick from Mutual Materials, based in PNW. We used the Ashland tumbled full brick, 2×8 laid on its side (because the tops and bottoms don’t have the aged look). I personally think it’s the perfect aged brick, but I’m sure there are others out there that are pretty, too.
  4. There are a few ways to set this – mortar (where you could use a thin brick – not necessarily cheaper from what we are told), or sand set – which is laid in sand. We did sand set, but I guess because there are three holes in our brick our installers had to do some extra prep to ensure they stay in place. I think they still are going to grout and seal, though. Sorry, I don’t feel totally qualified walking you through the step-by-step but I do know some basic facts.

The Process

I’m always so humbled when I get to see the process from experts outside of my field. When you hear that it’s 10-15k to install of course the first reaction is like, WHAT? But then when you see how much work and expertise goes into it you are fully schooled.

At first, they laid the brick with the arrows facing the sides but I really wanted the arrows to go in line with the path – aka forward and backward. It was a 4-hour change that I felt bad about, but it was really important to me. This is a case of the ‘Not talking enough about the details before execution’ and I think a lot of people might not have changed it, but I’m SO glad that we did.

Where We Are Now

So as you can see we did a curved pathway from the driveway and we have new cement stairs (that I might paint TBH because they underwhelm me – railing coming soon), and it’s a pretty large space to fill. We now realize we could fit a floating island kitchen for the summer, and tuck it away in the winter. We could of course cover it with a structure but we don’t want to stare out of the kitchen window into a structure. We are curious if we could do an awning with a crank, but as you can see we chose to put the windows so close to the roofline that I’m not sure there is anywhere to attach it! This area gets eastern light (morning) and is shaded by 4 pm in the summer so it’s great for summer grilling. We still don’t totally know how we are going to use the property so I’m glad we didn’t stub in a gas line for a permanent BBQ. Instead, we figure we can move it around until it makes sense. I also was advised to reduce our natural gas usage as much as possible (we have two gas fireplaces so we aren’t perfect). This way we are planning on using propane (still a fossil fuel) until the technology of the electric BBQs becomes good enough. We also didn’t want to put a grill near the white house (it would stain with soot) and didn’t want to commit to floating it, so as of now – we have full flexibility but are still unsure where it will land. For the winter we still grill a lot for lunches so we’ll put it on the back covered porch. Goodness, that was a lot of exposition about where the heck we are going to grill our winter chicken … Still TBD but we have options.

We’ll have a big pot on the far left with a substantial tree, window boxes, and possibly even some rectangular planter boxes on the ground. I know that without anything in there all I see is the ugly foundation, but it’s very much in my wheelhouse to decorate this space to look pretty. Stay tuned.

Wait What About The Covered Walkway?

We ended up cutting off the covered path where it made the most sense with the roofline. I think had we thought of this earlier we would have rebuilt it to line up with the kitchen door (it was very off-center before and looked super odd when you were outside as well as when you looked out the kitchen window). Now it looks a bit random, tbh, but I think that a tree in that gap will solve that problem. If not then we might rebuild that return walkway to the kitchen door. WHO KNOWS. We also had to bring the brick pathway inside the posts because none of them lined up and you’d be able to tell really easily with the soldier-course border, so we reduced the footprint of the path altogether. We have to repair some of the bases of the posts that are not properly set in concrete (just dirt) and are rotting. And then we can plant a lot of ground cover and ferns to mask the posts. Would it have been cheaper/easier to tear the whole thing down and rebuild it to the exact specs that we wanted? Of course. But we didn’t want to and I don’t regret it. Of course, now that we see the old roof, covered in moss (which we previously thought was charming) next to our brand new roof on our house we wish we had re-roofed it, too. But listen, we haven’t even started to clean it up and of course will give it a power wash, a fresh coat of paint, and a few awesome hanging Rejuvenation pendants. It’s just so sweet and one of the reasons we fell in love with the property.

Oh, that herringbone with the soldier course border is so so lovely. Look at all those triangle cuts that had to be EXACT. These guys did an EXCELLENT job!!!

It’s honestly so exciting and the crew has now finished and moved on, prepping the rest of that side of the house for planting and laying the flagstone (we chose variegated bluestone). We are waiting on some sewer issues that finally got cleared by the city, but haven’t heard back from our sub in a while to see when it can be fixed which is very frustrating. Once we clear that the rest of the yard can be finalized and put on the schedule (we can’t trench for electrical, plumbing, or irrigation until the sewer is repaired underneath). We’re hoping to plant in a month. OH AND THIS IS VERY EXCITING – our well that we thought was empty and broken is not. Not only does it still have a ton of water, but it is being repaired now with a new pump to work again, and our irrigation contractor is tying our entire property into the well (thus reducing our summer dependence on the city water, which reduces my guilt and of course saves us money). We had the well contractor come out to assess it before the city could decommission it, and he was like, “oh it’s full and we can make it work again”. So we are moving and grooving on the exterior and as soon as I get my head on straight (after a long weekend celebrating Brian’s birthday) I’m going to write the exterior design plan post for you. Coming at you sooooon.

xx E

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KathrynJB
1 month ago

Loving all the farmhouse updates. Keep ’em coming!

Lisa
1 month ago

aaaaaaw yay! It looks soooooooooooooooooooooooooo gooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!!

1 month ago

Yardzen might have you covered on this point – but consider the irrigation for the pots. Once you have a nice-sized plant in a pot, it’s unlikely that enough rain will get down through the canopy/leaves to keep it properly watered. I like self-watering pots (ones with a reservoir underneath that you top up, so the soil is always moist) – but have found that there is limited choice in style and size.
Also, a ‘topper’ or mulch on top of the soil will be a good idea. It can stop the soil drying up so fast – but also, on the off-chance that water does hit the soil on the top, would stop you getting soil-splash on that lovely white paintwork.
Love the patio, I’m very jealous – I want to get my manky tiny one replaced, but getting a nice one is (just as you found!) pretty expensive.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Awfulknitter

Good reminder and already covered (uner Brick Facts): “irrigate and stub up underneath the brick for future pots”

Paula
1 month ago
Reply to  Awfulknitter

People always underestimate how much exterior work costs. It’s a LOT. Worth it, of course.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

Happy birthday Brian!

Emily, I lurve the curved pathway!💗 That is harrrd to get right in herringbone! Your team of installers is good!👍

Really glad you took the brickwork to the fpundstion – much safer re: potential rising damp from garden beds.

It’s looking sooo inspiring and you have tons of possibilities with the end design!🌱🌱🌱

Also….super lucky with the functional well! Lucky you!🤗

Ellen
1 month ago

Simply beautiful! The power of hardscape – they did an amazing job.

Dana
1 month ago

Great call on the path’s arrow orientation! It all looks fantastic!

Jessica
1 month ago

It gets lovelier & lovelier by the day. Would you consider making the stair brick? They would tie in very nicely that way.

Kimberly
1 month ago
Reply to  Jessica

Came here to say this! Making the stairs brick would have great continuity and a way to add visual interest to them.

Erin
1 month ago
Reply to  Jessica

They would have to rip up the concrete they just put in. Even covering with thin bricks would totally change the height of the steps, probably not within requirements for permitting, it’s a safety issue. Also, adding would probably put the bricks higher than the threshold and allow exterior water to flow inside your house. If the natural concrete color bothers Emily she can paint it or stain it and add the textured skid sheets, it’s like black sandpaper and you should probably add them if your concrete is not textured, even if you don’t paint it.
Porch looks good enough to hombre the shit out of some fancy pumpkins on those steps-DONE! 😉

Amanda
1 month ago
Reply to  Jessica

I have brick steps and they are in constant need of maintenance 😛 boo

Molly
1 month ago

Love, love, love it! Design question for the masses: when doing a herringbone layout, should you always do a border around it? We’re having interior reclaimed brick (shoutout to Stone Farm in CT for what we ordered) laid in our entry way and I didn’t know if I should have a border or if it mattered.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Molly

It depends on the room. Yours is an entryway? What size/shape is it, and how will it transition to connecting floors? If your entryway is small or narrow, a border can make it look smaller and narrower.

Siel
1 month ago
Reply to  Molly

A border is more classic in my opinion and borderless is a more modern look. See what fits with your style!

Alice
1 month ago

Great news about the well. Good job about speaking up about the direction the arrows pointed…that was a moment when many of us might have just folded and told ourselves we could live with it and then have been unhappy forever.

Lisa H
1 month ago

Of all things, I think you could use a beautiful broom for the patio. We have a lot of hardscape, and plenty of leaves and yard debris collect in the corners. Sweeping is calming vs a leaf blower!
I saw this one, and liked it.
https://lostine.com/products/barn-brooms

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa H

Yessss!!! Blowers are evil!

Nora
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

🙂 Your comment reminded me of this article, Rusty: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/25/opinion/leaf-blowers-california-emissions.html

1 month ago

Have to say for your safety please do not paint the concrete steps – or make it one of those paints that has extremely large grit in it. Painted concrete steps are extremely slick and I have fallen several times on friends’ painted steps. Rain, snow, black ice will form and be very dangerous.

Danielle
1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I came here to put in my two cents about not painting the steps as well! In addition to this, a painted surface, even prepared well with high quality products used, will age much worse and require much more upkeep than just regular old concrete. As the owner of a painted concrete porch, please don’t paint the brand new perfect stairs! You’ll save yourself some future maintenance if you just leave it as is, and I think it looks great next to the brick!

MJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Danielle

Yes, painted concrete never ages well. Is it possible to add a brick veneer to the whole staircase to match the walkway? It all looks so beautiful! Gosh, outdoor stuff is so expensive – I’m hardscaping a little portion of my yard right now too and it’s STICKER SHOCK but so worth it ultimately.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Ypu can STSIN cincrete instead of painting it…much safer.

Alvena
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Plus, there is a grit available to add to concrete stain, that adds traction to the surface. Our driveway is on a hillside and we used stain with added grit, and it’s got great traction.

Natalie
1 month ago

Looks amazing! Great call on both the pattern orientation and going all the way to the foundation. I have a patio next to my house with a 2-foot planting border and it is SO difficult to maintain and also keep the patio tidy. Especially in the fall with all of the oak leaves and acorns we have to remove by hand. I absolutely HATE it and wish I had done long planters instead, but I’m a gardener and wanted that natural look. Big mistake. HUGE. 😉 Trust me, you made the best decision and it’s going to look beautiful all styled out.

Kirstin
1 month ago

So beautiful! I love the herringbone pattern with the border and I’m excited to see it when it’s done. As a PNW resident (Seattle area), I learned the hard way this year that you need to always be thinking about water and making sure it’s flowing AWAY from your house (my newly remodeled basement flooded). I’m sure your installers are aware of this, but just keep this at the top of your mind and make sure all the patios/hardscapes slope away from your foundation. Good luck with finishing the install!

Christa
1 month ago

Your yard is going to be fantastic!!! 🤗

Mary
1 month ago

Is that the bathroom window with the tub right there? Curious what your plan is for privacy! I’m sure we’ll get that in the bathroom reveal down the line, but just put two and two together now to see that temporary covering so was curious.

Erin
1 month ago
Reply to  Mary

I vote to leave it somewhat open so the soaker can enjoy the view of the beautiful landscaping and add a simple brass rod with sheer linen that can be closed for privacy when needed but still allows all the natural light in. Hang the rod at the same height as your lower or middle windowpane so it’s less noticeable.

Heidi
1 month ago

A super quick and cheap way to help the foundation look better is to paint it the same color as either your house or trim. Even if you put pots in front of it, it looks way less “foundation” and just fades into the background.

The brickwork is gorgeous. The whole house is such a good combo of understated and jaw dropping!

Adrianne
1 month ago
Reply to  Heidi

I was going to make a similar comment – would you ever paint the foundation?

Heidi
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrianne

I had a similar raised foundation that was gray and looked awful. I painted it to match the house and it just solved the problem. It still looks great years later.

1 month ago
Reply to  Heidi

Did this when we replaced our siding last year. The painters seemed surprised I requested it but it made a huge difference in making the house look finished ground to sky. 🙂
Plus my we also have a lot of hardscaping around our home (fellow PNWer with a white house here) and it definitely helped the foundation stand out less.
Honestly surprised it isn’t painted given such high end finishing everywhere else.

Crissy Perham
1 month ago

It looks inviting, already1! Really lovely!

Emily
1 month ago

I would love a post from your mason about patio laying options! Ie cement vs gravel base, veneer vs whole bricks, sand vs grout. And I didn’t realize you could plumb for pot sprinklers – what is that all about??

It looks beautiful.

Jen A.
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily

Would also love a post about the pot sprinklers

Ally
1 month ago

Such a beautiful and welcoming space, even before it’s finished. I love the soft colors and herringbone pattern in the brick and your exterior paint colors on the house look terrific. And the covered walkway really adds something special. (Have to admit, I didn’t completely “get it” that feature in the original photos, back when.) The rendering of how it will look with spring landscaping — phenomenal!

KK
1 month ago

It’s beautiful!!! Great call on the herringbone. On the steps, we used pavers on our concrete porch that matched the full size bricks on our house and it added so much! Do they have pavers that match your brick or can you have it cut?

Dash
1 month ago

Putting in a vote to re-extend the covered walkway to the kitchen door. Seems like a form/function no-brainer—just cost.

andrea
1 month ago

the brick looks fab! you’ll need to keep it clean bc it gets REALLY SLIPPERY in the PNW

IEL
1 month ago

You have created a really lovely area and the brickwork is gorgeous. If it is in the budget brick on the stairs and landing would be heavenly:)

Stephanie
1 month ago

So beautiful! I think taking the brick to the foundation was the right decision. It looks so clean and will be gorgeous when you dress it up with pots and window boxes.

Alex
1 month ago

What are the boarded up and pealing openings in the foundation next to the gorgeous patio. Is there a plan to clean them up? I wish the covered walkway was eliminated. It looks random and unfortunately seems to have dictated expensive hardscaping decisions that hampered creativity

Joy
1 month ago

Emily, if you haven’t watched the wonderful Cary Grant and Myrna Loy classic Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, please do, stat : )

denese webb
1 month ago

so lovely! Your new best friend will be a small electrical blower to keep the gorgeous patio free from fallen debris. I use mine almost every day! A great job for the kids. 🙂 Enjoy it!

Heather Sterling O’Brien
1 month ago

Love love love the yard zen design pics and the stunning herringbone brick patio! I think once the handrails and some tall pots next to the staircase are in to soften it, you will be happy with the cement. The Xlarge bird from your LA patio would be perfect out here too if you kept it. I am wondering if your well water is possibly better quality than your city water that is likely treated with chlorine. Perhaps if the well water is very high quality, it could be used for the water in your home instead. Well water often tastes better than city water too. Also make sure that the well is secure and that curious kiddos can’t access it.

Sam
1 month ago

Can’t wait to see you style this! We have a similar situation at the back of our house, floor to the foundation, concrete stair case, windows too high, and short of doing a deck, I don’t know how to make that space inviting

Joyce Garrity
1 month ago

Emily,hope you read this.. I am a fellow northwester w a brick on sand patio. it requires annual pressure washing.. which washes the sand out. I had to buy a sand that when wet, turns to concrete to prevent this. hopefully you have this already but check. Baking soda also kills moss. WARNING you cannot pressure wash your roof. it destroys the shingle attachment and washes grain off roof. best of luck!

1 month ago

Cool but I am not there 😉

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