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A VERY Exciting One Room Challenge Project Intro From The One And Only Shavonda Gardner

This week I was asked to be a part of #ShareTheMicNow campaign, Home Edition on Instagram. The answer was an overwhelming YES. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a day to amplify Black designer voices to expand their reach, share their message, and show off their talent with a takeover on Non-Black designer’s Instagram accounts. We need to keep pushing to make sure the momentum rises and campaigns like this are essential. So can you guess who is taking over my account??

Needless to say, I was pretty darn happy when I was matched with Shavonda Gardner. If you don’t know who she is then today is your lucky day. She is a designer, blogger, mother, wife, and all-around wonderful person which is evident in watching her Instastories. I love how she refers to her followers as friends and even more, I love her bold and beautiful designs. Shavonda has been in the process of making over her backyard for a while and chose to tackle her entertaining and lounge area for this season’s One Room Challenge. I wanted to share the very beginning of this project from her blog because she is about to REVEAL it and seeing all her hard work is insanely inspiring.

So head to my stories to catch Shavonda’s takeover, follow her if you aren’t already and enjoy this post she wrote about her backyard. ALSO, just to tease because it’s fun, you can expect and EHD x SGS collaboration coming this year and I CAN’T WAIT:) Shavonda take it away xx

Hi Everyone!

Happy Thursday friends and Happy One Room Challenge kick off week! I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this year ORC feels even more special and necessary than all the years past, not only for our homes but also for ourselves. The impact of the global pandemic has left so many feeling isolated and full of fear and anxiety. ORC has always been a powerful way to bring people together virtually all over the world through our collective love of design. It’s been a wonderful community building tool and right now I get the sense we would all love to feel as connected as possible during our distance from one another. What better way to do that than by cheering each other on as we tackle a project in our homes. I’m so excited to be joining One Room Challenge as a guest participant this round.

I’m back for my third One Room Challenge friends and this time I’m taking on a project I’ve been looking forward to tackling for FIVE years…our backyard! At the top of my home goals list this year was to get our outdoor spaces all the way together and the time has come to get it done. This project is a BIG task but one I’m more than excited to see through to the finish line. I figured participating in ORC would be a great way for me to be accountable to actually do it. There are several components to this makeover, but first I want to give to a little flashback and history of the evolution of our backyard over the years since we moved in. Be prepared for photo overload:

This is what things looked like when we first moved in:

Yikes, right! Ya’ll it was a whole mess.

I could see the potential in this space but it was going to need A LOT of work. Like…A WHOLE LOT. Over the next few years we slowly chipped away at just getting the area to the point where we had a fairly clean slate to work with. We started by removing misplaced trees, tore down the rickety dilapidated pergola, ripped out the death trap of a deck, replaced the fence and built entry gates, removed the shed, replaced exterior doors, rewired the garage, added electrical, and had the house painted.

That got us to the place we were at the beginning of this year. I mean it still looks all kinds of crazy, but it’s a vast improvement from where we started.

With a clean slate and a plan in place, we went into 2020 with a clear goal to get this whole situation in order and to transform this space into something beautiful, functional, and special for our family. I mentioned earlier the makeover has several major components, one of which being the addition and construction of a large L-shaped floating deck off the bedroom and back landing which will visually connect the house to the detached garage. This was a major project that we decided to hire out because of the technical aspects needed to build it properly for our property. Our house sits quite a bit higher than our garage, we have drainage issues that need to be addressed, and I wanted it built on two levels.

This was going to take quite a bit of time so we had the deck built in February/March so we would be ready to take on the rest of the project at the start of ORC this spring with that major part done. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen the project through to its completion in real time via my daily stories. I saved everything to a highlight in case you want to go back and see the whole process:) For the deck build we hired local landscape contractor Charles Shipman and his team at Shipshape Landscape. They were phenomenal and did an incredible job. This was not an easy project in the slightest and they really knocked it out of the park. It started with them having to dig a 3-4 foot deep trench 100 ft across the yard and adding a french drain near the house to address our issues with drainage and the garage flooding when it rains.

At this point, Naomi was sure I had completely lost my mind and she was pretty convinced she was out of her mind for letting me rope her into buying this fixer-upper of a house! The woman deserves a medal to be honest, lol!

After the drainage was dealt with they got the deck built.

There are literally no words to describe how in love with it we are. It’s very big at around 500 sqft and this extra space is a game-changer for our family AND our home. I’ll be writing an in-depth post all about the deck after ORC, but for now here are the main specifics: we used redwood for the material, I wanted two levels with the boards laid in different directions so it would create interest and serve to define spaces (more on that next week), none of this was sponsored and we saved for a long time to pay for it, we will be staining it in a few months after its had time to dry out a bit, did I mention I’m obsessed with it?!

And that brings us to where we are today. Next week I’ll be sharing the overall design plan, mood board, and to-do list as well as my inspiration for pulling it all together. We have so much work to do still to make this our dream outdoor space and I’m looking forward to tackling it over the next 7 weeks. I’m also really looking forward to following along with all the other guest participant projects and seeing what magic the featured designers make this season! Make sure you check out the other participants here. And if you have a space you’d like to tackle I encourage you to join as well. There’s still plenty of time and we have 2 extra weeks this time too!

Until next time friends…..

Em again. That deck is SO beautiful and if you’ve been following her stories you know how much more beautiful its become. And UPDATE here is a sneak peek of the reveal:) Look at those lanterns!

I want to thank Shavonda for letting us republish this post, share this exclusive sneak peek, and for so graciously being my partner in the #ShareTheMicNow campaign. Can’t wait to do more together:)

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3 years ago

I’ve been watching this outdoor space come together on your stories and it looks great — so, so inviting! I know I would have been overwhelmed facing such a big blank slate of a yard. But you definitely hit it out the park.

Karen T.
3 years ago

I’ve been following along in Shavonda’s stories and the transformation is AMAZING (and Shavonda is hilarious and real and so down to earth). So glad to hear her voice here! Give her a follow. Seriously.

3 years ago

I love Shavonda Gardner! Her use of color and pattern in small spaces is amazing. Thank you for featuring her!

3 years ago

Such a transformation already! Looking forward to following you Shavonda!

3 years ago

Shavonda’s outdoor space has been so fun to watch evolve! Glad you two are partnering and excited for what’s to come!

i looooooooove this! i’ve see in it on Instagram. I can’t wait to see how it turned out. I want her to come do my yard! That deck is beautiful!

3 years ago

I LOVE Shavonda. She’s relatively new to me, but her stories are real and energizing and I really look forward to them. Can’t wait to see her backyard reveal.

3 years ago

Cannot wait to see how the ORC turns out! Emily, you’ve found another storyteller, “obsessed with X,” kindred spirit designer. AND she’s repping Sactown?!?! I love it!

3 years ago
Reply to  Reanna

I know! She doesn’t live far from Brian’s parents either 🙂

3 years ago

I have been in awe of what Shavonda has done to transform this space. It’s so inspiring!! I would LOOOOOVEE a backyard like this…great timing too. Hoping her reveal kicks my plans into high gear.

3 years ago

Wow, this has come so far. I can’t wait to see Shavonda’s finished space!

3 years ago

I have been waiting for Shavonda to be featured this blog for years!!! SO glad to hear there will be an on-going collab here… if that’s not Friday’s announcement, then what is?!

3 years ago
Reply to  Alison

We have something in the works (in the feel good variety), but it’s not the announcement tomorrow 🙂 xx

3 years ago

Loved this! Shavonda is really breathing in so much life and beauty into her backyard! Shavonda is a true gem and I’m so happy to see her work and voice here on EHD. Two of my favorite designers working together= home inspo dreams met! I look forward to your future collabs!

3 years ago

Love this!! Random q—but do you know the colors of the exterior house paint? I am looking for that exact grey/blue…and crisp white trim for my house. Thank you!

3 years ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Jess, thank you my friend!! Love this community. Shavonda is so wildly talented.

3 years ago

I love shavonda on insta and her ability to visualize a space is truly a GIFT! She is so talented! I’m glad she is collaborating with you!

3 years ago

I’m so happy to see Shavonda featured! I can’t wait to see her final reveal.

3 years ago

Shavonda, you are the best, and I’m so happy to see you here!!

EHD readers she is a MUST FOLLOW on Instagram, if you’re not already doing it, what are you waiting for?!?

3 years ago

Holy moly what a transformation! That redwood is GORGEOUS! Going to follow her now, I can’t wait to see more. 🙌

3 years ago

Worlds colliding! I love Shavonda and Emily both, and am so glad they’re collaborating like this! I have to say, one of my favorite things about Shavonda is how she maintains her boundaries online and expects her friend/followers to do so, too. Saying hello before you launch into a DM isn’t too much to ask! She has really inspired me in this way, both online and IRL.

Courtney Tait
3 years ago

Hi Shavonda! I started following you on IG last year as I was moving to Sacramento from the Bay, discovered you on the gram and was excited to see your amazing talent! Love that you are appearing here on EHD too! Your patio is BEYOND. (And your garden!!!!!) Can’t wait to learn more on future collaboration with EHD as well. xox

3 years ago


Thank you so much for being so active in the movement to promote black voices and talent! Like you said, Shavonda is such a genuine, warm person and an AMAZING designer. So excited to follow along with this project here as I’ve been following her blog and IG for years!

3 years ago

I’ve been following this on Instagram stories. But haven’t seen the very beginning where she started. Impressive!

3 years ago

I don’t even remember how I found Shavonda, but she is one of my favorite IG follows. This whole backyard project has been incredible to watch. That was such a good call to do a bunch of lanterns over the table. I can’t wait for the final reveal!!

3 years ago

Ha! Yes, it was certainly a hot mess to start with. But all that space!!! Can’t wait to see the full reveal. It looks like it will be awesome.

3 years ago

Shavonda is so talented!! I’ve been following for a couple of years and her transformations are always so good!!

Lynn W
3 years ago

Shavonda rocks!!! And so does her gorgeous backyard 💜. Love the redwood deck and pergola !!!

3 years ago

WOW that deck is gorgeous!!

3 years ago

I love this! Shavonda has a new follower! I’m in love with those terra-cotta planters with the rolling base, does anyone know what brand/where to find them?

3 years ago

Yesssss! I LOVE Shavonda and am so happy to see her featured here. HGTV give this woman a show, please!

3 years ago

Love Shavonda! Her backyard and garden look so amazing and I can’t wait to see the final reveal!

3 years ago

Yuuummmm!! Love it all.

Mia Tenille
3 years ago

Wow, that really turned out beautiful! Went from a mess to absolutely beautiful! I love the lights that are hung over the table, can you share where these ones are from? Did you build the deck yourself or hire that part out?   Either way, this backyard is a dream! Thanks for sharing.

3 years ago

I’ve been following Shavonda on IG for awhile now and EVERYTHING she does is amazing. She’s my absolute favorite and I can’t wait for her backyard reveal!!