My Lowe’s Spring Makeover: Alex and Apryl’s Backyard!

Remember a few months ago when I partnered up with Lowe’s to do a spring makeover for a reader? WELL! IT IS DONE! Wanna see?

before2

OK, this is clearly a before photo. I never make it that easy. C’mon.

This is the backyard of a rowhouse in Washington, D.C., and clearly it needed some love. This sweet young couple of first-time homeowners named Alex and Apryl bought this house roughly a year ago. They knew it needed major renovation, but thought that would take a few months and they’d be sitting pretty in their new digs by last fall, hosting Thanksgiving. That didn’t happen (sound familiar??), but after months of hard work, they’re finally reaching the finish line of overhauling the entire house! Except for one big piece of it—the backyard! Unless you count using it as a dumpster during renovation, in which case it had performed admirably. But they had bigger dreams for it. I can relate to those dreams because they are also my dreams.

Like many attached urban houses, this one has a really little backyard. I mean really little. The whole thing is only about 20 x 20 feet, but there’s a set of stairs right in the middle going to the first floor and another one down to the basement, eating up over 20% of that space! So we’re left with about 315 square feet to play with, which I think is roughly the size of most outdoor sectionals.

before1

before3

They included a few photos of the space on their application (can anyone say dreamyyyy?), as well a short list of what they wanted the space to achieve, which included:

  1. New fence.
  2. Patio pavers.
  3. An outdoor grilling/kitchen set-up with bar seating.
  4. Plenty of green space to plant.
  5. Entertaining space with comfy lounge seating, possibly set up to double as an outdoor movie theater.
  6. A fire pit hang-out zone.

All in 315 square feet. There was also mention of a soaking tub but I’m choosing to believe that was a joke. Then they showed me some inspiration images they had gathered of these GORGEOUS backyards and I got real intimidated, real fast.

Aside from the construction debris situation, I worried about the lack of barrier between the backyard and the stairs down to the basement. There ought to be some kind of railing or knee wall there to protect you from tumbling down. So I added that to the list of stuff to address.

It took me a week or two to sketch and think and hem and haw and figure out how to lay things out in these cramped quarters. With a space this size, there’s really no room to just wing it or figure it out when you get there, ya know? So here is what I came up with:

LOWE'S-DESIGN-PLAN-1

Once again, my Sketchup abilities pretty much cap out at “nearly sufficient,” but hey! There are shapes. Shapes help, I think.

Let’s go clockwise: A few evergreen trees in that skinny place next to the stairs to screen off the neighbor’s enclosed porch which is basically RIGHT there. Raised planting beds wrapping part of the side and part of the back of the yard. An outdoor sofa floated a little out from the raised beds, with a fire pit, maybe a side table, maybe a lounge chair to complete the hang-out zone. Then there’s a bar on the right side fence, with a shallow raised planting bed next to it for veggies and herbs, and right across from that there’s a grill with some prep space on both sides that sits in front of a knee wall to protect from the whole basement stair hazard situation.

Also there is a new fence and new pavers with spaces between them for either sod or a ground cover to fill in between, which I always think looks nice. Alex and Apryl knew they wanted pavers and it’s common in their area to just cover the whole outdoor space with them, but I think the gaps will make it feel so much warmer and nicer to hang out in.

Save for a couple small requests that I’ve already forgotten, Alex and Apryl were totally on board with the plan which automatically made them my favorite clients of all time. Then they claimed to be relatively handy and well-stocked in the tool department and I did some brief research on the polygamy laws in D.C., because break me off a piece of that. 

So anyway, Alex hauled the garbage to the dump and I packed up the car and drove to D.C. and it was MAKEOVER TIME.

AlexandApryl

First of all, nobody told me these people were also totally adorable. They wisely did not include a photo on their application because I would have passed immediately on the basis of not wanting to feel like a troll for an entire weekend. Clever move.

Gorgeousness aside, they could NOT have been more helpful! Day 1 was just me, the homeowners, and my friend John who generously volunteered to tag along, and Day 2 was just me and John! IT WAS ALL REALLY INTENSE.

aprylstaining

Alex and Apryl were TOTAL champs, from helping me wade through a longggg supply list at Lowe’s, to helping haul everything back to their house, to unloading and cutting and staining and assembling…it was non-stop action and there was NO WAY we would have gotten it all done without them.

Apryl, by the way? BEAST. You can kind of see a big pile of super heavy leftover concrete pavers behind her, which she moved out to the alley without so much as a water break, like it was nothing. Damn.

process1

The raised planting beds are simple 1×6 pressure-treated lumber that we stained with my old standby, Cabot’s Solid-Color Acrylic Siding Stain in black. I can’t say enough about how great this stuff is! Totally matte, solid, easy to work with, often fine with one coat, dries quickly, seems to work fine on pressure-treated lumber that hasn’t really had time to dry out…A+. It used to be kind of hard to find, but Lowe’s carries it now! We used 4×4 pressure-treated posts in the corners, with a few in between to keep them from bowing out and losing their shape once filled. The boards are attached to the posts with shanked siding and trim nails. I’m in the process of completing similar raised beds for my own backyard, so I’ll post a more detailed step-by-step then!

barbuilding

While I set the homeowners on staining wood, I worked on assembling the bar seating! I couldn’t find a stock option that worked for the space, so building it seemed like a good plan. I used 4×4 pressure-treated posts for the legs (it’s upside-down in this photo) and wrapped the whole thing in cedar planks, also using trim and siding nails.

By the way, to compensate for the lack of volunteers on the actual makeover weekend, Lowe’s very kindly helped coordinate having contractors come in prior to my arrival to install the fence and pavers. The pavers are set on a base of crushed stone and paver sand, which all has to be hauled in, leveled, and compacted, so just having it DONE was a HUGE help. The plan called for these 2’x2′ concrete patio stones, but those weren’t available in the D.C. store so we used 16″x16″ stones instead. Fine by me!

The fence is constructed of 4×4 pressure-treated posts with horizontal cedar boards attached, and I love how it came out! The cedar decreases in size as you move from the bottom to the top, and we left it untreated to allow it to fade to a silvery-grey in the next few years. If Alex and Apryl decide they don’t want that, they can always seal it to maintain its natural tone longer, but personally I like the faded look.

As the sun was setting on Day 1, we all went back to Lowe’s and bought plants! I was a little nervous about this part because we were just totally at the mercy of what the Lowe’s nursery would have in stock, but luckily we weren’t short on options. I’m glad the homeowners got to be involved in this part because I know they like what we planted. We did our best to choose plants that ranged in size and were appropriate for the different light conditions in the yard, and I can happily report that apparently everything is still alive and thriving! YAY!

BanisterProcess

We didn’t really do anything to the house itself aside from replace the light fixture next to the door, but I couldn’t just leave this sad iron railing alone, could I? It was covered in chipping paint, which John did an AMAZING job of removing with a wire-brush attachment to my drill. It’s best to use a corded drill for this kind of thing, since a battery-powered one will die pretty quickly. We masked everything off with plastic and hit it with a few coats of glossy black Rustoleum spray paint, and it looks sooooo goooood.

process2

Day 2 with just John and me was mildly insane! I think that poor guy made 3 different trips to Lowe’s to get enough bags of soil to fill those big raised beds, and mulch to top them off…I think 160 bags in all, which works out to about 6,400 POUNDS OF SOIL. WHICH WE MOVED. BAG BY BAG. From the shelves of Lowe’s, into the trunk of my car, from the trunk of my car across a sidewalk, up a set of stairs into the house, across the living room and dining room and kitchen, down a set of stairs and into the yard. FUN. TIMES. Anyway, we used a mix of topsoil and garden soil to fill the beds, so those plants should be mighty happy for years to come. We then used a nice thick layer of black mulch (of course we did!) to top everything off.

Then Alex and Apryl got home and they were all:

alexandaprylreveal

Because their backyard used to look like this:

before1

And now it looks like this:

aerialafter

Not bad for a couple days of super intense work, am I right??

after1

Let’s take a walk around, shall we?

before2

after2

The real star of the show here is that fire pit, which Alex and Apryl made a while ago from a washing machine drum they found at the dump! People after my own heart, let me tell you. I don’t think they’d ever actually gotten to USE the thing, so being able to light that inaugural fire was an honor.

Also, I love fire. Some people call it a problem. I don’t.

yellowchair

How cute is that sunny lemon yellow adirondack chair? SEE?! I LIKE COLOR. I kind of want a couple for myself, but don’t tell anyone or I’ll ruin my rep.

beds1

bed2

I’m so thrilled with how the raised beds came out! I tried to plant things so that there was a nice mix of textures, colors, and height, but leaving enough room for things to fill in over time. It’s oddly hard to lay out raised beds! These are only two feet deep, so you can do some layering but not a ton. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know the names of everything we planted, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that my readers are kinda brilliant so if you have specific questions on plantings, shout them out in the comments and hopefully someone smarter than me can come to your rescue.

ajuga

We filled in between the pavers with the same topsoil/garden soil mix and planted ajuga all over the place between the stones. Ajuga should do well in their low light conditions, and it’s hearty enough to take kind of a beating with foot traffic. I want updated photos in a couple years when things really fill in!

pillows

The sectional and pillows are all from Lowe’s! Look at those trendy-ass pillows! So cute. Lowe’s carries such a nice selection of pillows that are super easy to mix and match, and the quality seems great. I used these and these and these. The sofa is this one!

bar2

The bar seating worked out! I don’t have a lot of experience building furniture, but it’s solid and pretty and I like it! The top is nominal 1×2 cedar with about 1/4″ space in between (I used my iPhone as a spacer because I’m a pro, haha), so rainwater should be able to easily drain through.

It was pretty dark by the time we were ready for the full reveal, so I came back the next day to take more after pictures. Because I am Blogger and I couldn’t help myself, they are staged somewhat like a fake party. Forgive me.

bar

The bar seating area got rounded out with these simple stools, which look like wood but are really plastic! The quality is great. The bar area comfortably seats three, and the stools can easily be stowed underneath if they ever have a bash where they just want to just use the table as a bar space. I love how many people you can comfortably fit in this yard now!

grillarea

One of the areas I’m MOST proud of is the grill area! I built a knee wall anchored to the brick masonry wall next to the stairs, which accomplishes the safety goal I discussed earlier. ALSO! One of the things I never really thought about is that grills generally aren’t that deep, but opening the top drastically increases the depth…making them difficult to place in small spaces, because you can’t place them against the wall without floating them out a foot or so. I built the knee wall so that it was low enough for the grill top to flip over the back of it, meaning the grill can sit right up against it and doesn’t take up any extra space when open. Hooray!

alex

We used this Weber grill but removed the side panel made for prep space to allow for more space for this custom prep space. How many times can I say “space” in a single sentence? That many times.

prepspace

Here’s a glamor shot of the prep area, because typically you are cutting up asparagus and watermelon at the same time. Right? I’ve never been to a barbecue.

watermelon

So the back of the knee wall matches the planters and the top of the prep space matches the bar and the fence and I’m so predictable, but…it took some self-restraint to not go CRAZY on this little space and do all sorts of different things. I feel like the result is nicely balanced with a good repetition of materials and finishes. Or something.

hosestorage

Underneath the prep space is the hose, so Alex and Apryl can keep all this stuff alive! I love these coiled hoses especially for small spaces—it does the job and fits easily into a cute perforated metal bucket. There’s plenty more space for extra propane tanks, and it would be easy for them to add a shelf if they wanted.

vegetablebed

The raised bed across from the grill area worked out so well! It’s about a foot and a half deep and 8 feet long, so there’s a nice amount of space to grow herbs and vegetables. Here they have rosemary, mint, basil, a couple different types of peppers, and thyme. I can see a tomato plant or two doing well here, too. Alex and Apryl were advised that the mint might need to be transferred to a pot to keep it from overtaking everything.

By the way…I know there’s a negative knee-jerk reaction to using pressure-treated lumber for beds made for edibles, but from everything I’ve read about it, it sounds like the risk of chemicals leaching into the soil is extremely minimal to non-existent. The process used to create pressure-treated lumber has changed dramatically in recent years, so the risks associated with it no longer seem to apply. Only the top course of the planters are stained, so the stain’s contact with the soil is also very minimal.

drinkdispensor

Ahhhhh, I can taste it now! Here’s my favorite cocktail, which is one part bourbon and one part…oh wait, never mind, it’s just watered down Brisk Iced Tea with some lemons and ice floating in it. #blogger

russiansage

Let’s take a look at the plants! I love Russian Sage. It has such a great color and texture.

hydrangea

In the corner, there’s a nice hydrangea that should fill out beautifully and provide some nice height up in that corner.

foxglove2

foxglove1

Foxgloves are peppered around the planters, which I LOVE. I LOVE THEM. Why don’t I have any foxgloves yet?? Working on it. They’ll have to be a front garden plant for me, as they’re toxic for dogs.

cypress

Next to the steps up to the house, we planted this sweet cypress tree. The Sketchup plan shows three trees here, but that was crazy, so we just did one to give it room to grow and spread out. Hopefully it’ll provide a little privacy screening from the neighbors as it continues to mature.

candle

Between the tree and the raised beds, we planted some ornamental grasses. So pretty! I think they’ll really fill in this area nicely as they mature.

throughgate

So there it is! I’m so happy with how this came out. Alex and Apryl, I hope you get to enjoy it for years and years to come! You couldn’t have been more gracious and wonderful hosts. Thank you for making this so much fun!

Psssst…want to see the other Lowe’s Spring Makeovers? Head on over to…

Yellow Brick Home’s living room transformation

Chris Loves Julia’s entryway/sitting room makeover

French Country Cottage’s outdoor living space 

Emily A. Clark’s patio overhaul

Design Post Interior’s patio makeover

Wit & Delight’s artist’s studio makeover

Simple Styling’s backyard makeover

 

This post has been in partnership with my wonderful sponsors, Lowe’s


83 Comments

  1. Beautiful! How that can be achieved in 2 days I have no clue. This am I attempted to clean out small portion of my yard and in an hour I was done:(

  2. Oh wow!!! Can totally see why you chose this one… from the very first picture I thought, “that looks like a BIG challenge but with REALLY BIG potential!” and you totally fulfilled its potential!!! I am sooooo jealous of that grill area and LOVE the idea of an herb garden right across from it.

  3. Fantastic!

    <3

  4. So lovely! I like the way you managed to turn the layout to an advantage with a separated space for the bbq. Would love to see follow up pics, maybe with a real drink in there? ;-) Did you put any climbers in there? It would be nice with some green on the walls. Also, over the bar would be a great place to hang some sort of art. Maybe one of those suckulent planters and some small mirrors? Just to ease it up a bit. It will be a fun space for them to decorate!

  5. Genius! That was the perfect solution for that tiny yard. You are amazing!

  6. Gorgeous!

  7. So fabulous! What lucky homeowners to have this transformation completed for them.

  8. Something that would work great here and might also be nice in your own yard is dripline/driptape. It’s very customizable, easy to assemble and use, and you can attach a timer to it so the garden waters itself. It gets so hot where I am that overhead watering basically does nothing for our plants and just wastes a ton of water, so drip line saves us water (money) and time (also money.)

  9. You do realize that the neighbors are going to hate these people now.
    (1) they (YOU) have upped the game for outdoor space on the block.
    (2) they will have more fabulous parties back there than anybody else. #envy
    (3) they are adorable, as you’ve noted, AND they are cool.
    (4) seeing as they are handy, they probably also know how to cook (wouldn’t that just be the kicker), and they will send enticing food fragrances wafting into the neighbors’ homes. #hangry
    Really they have no future there. When they throw in the towel and put the place up for sale, let me know, OK?
    I love every detail of what you did. Bravo!

    • Haha! Coincidentally, the house next door was in the process of being flipped while this was taking place, and evidently they had an open house a week or two later. Apparently people were taking pictures of this backyard the whole time! :)

  10. Beautiful! I can’t imagine hauling all of that through a house!
    A climbing hydrangea would look beautiful climbing that wall if they wanted to this in the future – one of my faves.

  11. Beautiful transformation! That firepit makes me a little nervous though. In our town, they have to be 15 feet from a structure, fence, etc. …not that ours is. :)

    When did I become an old lady???

  12. We are pulling so many ideas from this space for our own backyard! Daniel, when do you wanna come over to help with our pavers and planter boxes? Excellent job, friend.

  13. So ridiculously, ridiculously nice, Daniel! Great work :)

  14. Wonderful! You should come to DC more often, we need you :)

    • I actually come down a fair amount! I’m from northern VA originally and my parents now live in the city! I’m there a few times a year! :)

  15. SketchUpis an unbelievably useful tool and I have you to thank for ever hearing about it. Currently using it to weigh up the pros and cons of knocking out our dividing laundry/kitchen wall and creating one big room. Your SketchUp skills are MINT. Don’t be so deprecating! The after photo looks exactly like your sketch.
    I just hope I can say the same for mine in a couple of months.

    • I’m glad it’s been helpful for you! It is really useful once you get a few basics down, isn’t it? Thank you for the kind words!

  16. my mouth was wide open the whole post, how you took that trash heap to the awesome multi-purposed gorgeous place it is now it mind boggling to me, great job xx

  17. Wow, I actually did a double-take (well, double-scroll), I cant believe how spacious you made it look and how you fitted so much in. Genuinely stunning job.

  18. Gorgeous! Where was this a couple months ago when I was doing my tiny yard?
    One question – is the back wall a garage or is that their neighbors tiny windows peering down into their yard?

    • Thanks, Chel! It’s one of the neighbor’s garages. Those little white vinyl windows make me crazy, but what can ya do! I may have left a can of black spray paint with the homeowners…;)

  19. A million thank yous for planning my terrace for me ;) My husband and I recently bought a new condo that has an amazing 30×15 outdoor space, and we’ve be struggling to furnish it inexpensively. Love the inspiration and the furniture you chose!

    • Congrats on the new place! Good luck!! :)

      • Thanks! I already took some inspiration from you and Kim over at Yellow Brick Home. Got ballsy and impulsively painted a giant wall in my living room black. Promptly freaked out, almost painted it back, but ultimately calmed down and now I love it!

  20. Beautiful design all around. Well done.
    Promise me you will stop in Baltimore next time you head south!

  21. Excellent makeover!
    2 small things: Russian sage unless kept well-trimmed (cut it back to 18″ each fall) can grow as big as the backyard; ajuga will also take over. Thyme, although slower growing, with its smaller leaves and fragrance, makes excellent between pavers ground cover.

    • Although I’ve heard horror stories about ajuga and seen giant russian sage plants I can tell you that growing conditions can make a significant difference in how well the plants do / how invasive they are.
      My front yard has an ajuga plant that I put in 8+ years ago and it’s only now covering about 4 sqft. I think the very little amount of water it gets contributes significantly. Likewise my russian sage plant is only now after the 8 years starting to look like much more than a few spindly long sticks. Again low water and shade.

      Of course my coreopsis and echinacia plants re-seed themselves like a mother and i’m constantly pulling them out as I weed. The other way to look at it is that they thrive in my neglected water-wise garden :)

      • Three cheers for bad watering habits, haha! That makes total sense. I’ve been told certain things will totally invade (hello creeping jenny!) that end up spreading a bit from year to year, but nothing dramatic. I wonder what would happen if I watered regularly…maybe I don’t want to find out!

      • I can’t even get Mint to grow in my garden. MINT! Too hot in Summer and not enough water. But I figure our scorched earth summers keep all my invasive plants in check. The nasturtiums thrive every winter/spring then die over summer only to reseed and thrive again the next year. Circle of life. Don’t even have to weed.

    • Good to know! I was actually hoping to plant creeping thyme, but we couldn’t find it! Hopefully the ajuga behaves itself! :)

  22. I was excited to see the use of pavers with a lot of space between them, because we made just that at the back of our yard for the fire pit area. Since nothing grows there either (it’s always shady) we’ve been filling in the spaces with moss — but I’m going to check out the plant you used to see if we can move things along a little faster.

    BTW did you use some stones as well near the grilling area? Curious to know what they are, if my eyes aren’t deceiving me.

    • Yeah, check out ajuga! I know it works well in low-light as a total ground cover, so I’d guess it would do about as well between pavers? And yeah, just regular pea gravel! I kinda sprinkled it in the cracks as a last-minute “MAYBE THIS’LL LOOK AMAZING” decision. :)

  23. This is SO GOOD!!! I’m kicking myself for not submitting my own DC row house’s backyard, which also serves as a dump (unfortunately that of some lousy alley dwellers instead of my own) — but I am taking furious notes and also thinking I should befriend Alex and Apryl, cuz they sound awesome.

    Great work!

  24. Looks fabulous! Quick question re: Lowes light fixtures…yay or nay? We are contemplating purchasing two sets of fixtures for our kitchen (two over island and two over bar/table area). They seem to be pretty economical and to have a wide range of options, but since they are in our kitchen, I just want to be sure we are getting the best bang for our buck and they won’t look “cheap”. Would love your advice!

    • Hmmmmm…like pretty much any retailer, I’d say it depends on the product? In my (limited) experience, light fixtures from Lowe’s have been great! I have a few around the house that I think look really good for the price point and are nicely made, easy to install, yada yada. Lowe’s also has an excellent return policy, if you try them out and don’t like them! Just save the packaging and bring ’em back. :)

  25. I can’t believe what you were able to do in that small space! Great job :)

  26. What a lovely makeover! Amazed that you guys were able to bang it out in 2 days. Love the use of the pavers. The before and after really came out great!

  27. How could you work without your squirrel and mouse helpers from Olivebridge? This looks a little like R & R after your ravaged NY cabin. Just kidding, of course. This is so beautiful–I know the homeowners are thrilled. You have not lost your decorating mojo! But, it is always SO MUCH work.

    • Thank you, Greta! Actually, it DID feel like R&R! Or something…it felt SO GOOD to just bang something like this out in a short time frame and have it turn out well. At this point the Olivebridge project has taken up over a year(!) of my life, and there the gratification doesn’t come *quite* that fast. A good lesson in patience, but it was definitely nice to get a project like this done in the meantime. Good for the soul!

  28. Oh wow, that turned out so nice! I love that it gives them so many options in such a little space. You (and your helpers) did an outstanding job!

  29. I love it so much! Kudos on cranking out yet another excellent makeover!!

  30. It looks amazing! I’m definitely showing this to my parents and my sister and the neighbour and the neighbour’s cat and EVERYONE. Well done you! (And John, Apryl and Alex).

  31. I love this! We’ve been deliberating on an area in our garden for nigh on two and a half years now and this might just be the inspiration I need to get going on it. Love the grill and prep space – you are genius!

  32. So good. Love everything about it.

  33. hey, wait a minute…you were in DC and didn’t stop by to say hi to this fan????
    well…
    fabulous makeover! I wish I’d known about that black stain before I did my new front stairs. I used a black deck stain and they look filthy all the time…. : (

  34. Looks so great! Though I’m saddened you didn’t come make magic in our backyard in California, I am getting so many good tips and ideas for our space. Great job!

  35. Congratulations to Apryl and Alex!! You did an amazing job transforming their space!
    I’m really enjoying these gardening/outdoor project posts as I tackle our new jungle of a yard. At least I *think* there’s a yard under all the poison ivy..

  36. Great work! I’m so glad you chose an outdoor space too. It is nice to see something different.

  37. Loved having you here for even such a short visit. More jobs in DC? Bring it on! We love to have him and his menagerie come visit.

  38. Amazing! Just amazing!!! You have an incredible knack for makeovers that seem impossibly good. I bet that couple is sooooo happy!

  39. Amazing job! I can’t believe you did all that in two days!

  40. That is one nice garden – two days, wow.

  41. Mint is an invasive plant and needs to be in a container.

  42. It looks great!

  43. OK, can someone explain to me how outdoor furniture works?

    Is the fabric completely waterproof so that rain doesn’t seep into the filling and make everything moldy? If so, isn’t that incredibly uncomfortable to sit on heat or mugginess? I’m thinking of how, as a little kid, the backs of my legs would stick to my grandma’s vinyl-covered covered couch…?

  44. Fabulous job, Daniel! I don’t think you could have done a better job maximizing the use of space and checking all those wish list boxes!

    I do have to admit that I cracked up when I saw those ‘before’ pics. Considering the state of the back of your house last year with all of the piles of debris, I can see how this site would speak to you! :D

  45. When I saw the owners wishlist for the back yard I thought ‘hahahahahahaha, that’s a joke (even when you don’t consider the hot tub)
    But, yet again, you came through. So fun to see your Sketchup plan come alive: like the above poster, I too discovered Sketchup via your good self and I LOVE it.

  46. So, I was going to comment and gush all about how fantastic this space turned out to be, because, I mean, it’s beyond amazing! Like, I want to move in amazing, and I rarely want to leave my own lovely house ^_^

    But then I got distracted with the links to other makeovers *shifty eyes*
    However, this is what happened. Without almost any exception, I was really “meh” about all the other makeovers. Like, I started skipping to just look at “before/after” and moving on. At first I blamed oversaturation, but then I was thinking hard about my reactions (like, am I just biased towards anything Daniel does because he’s such a cinnamon roll?) and I arrived at a thought that all the other makeovers were very safe. Like, take an already ok room (maybe a bit dated, maybe a bit boring) and make it more contemporary and slightly less boring. But I swear they all look the same!
    And then I remembered that I felt the same way about the fireplace makeovers.

    So this is what I have arrived at: Daniel, while you ~are~ a total cinnamon roll too good for this world, also, I think the reason you have such a crazy loyal following (I just compare the number of comments under each of your posts and majority other blogs I look at) and why I don’t care how long the next post will take, the reason I (and tons of other people) keep reading and loving your work is because you are not afraid to take on a huge challenge, you get (and act) so excited, it’s infectious, the difference is always mind-blowing, it’s unique (or rare enough at any rate), and you take us on a journey that makes the task like driving the mulch/soil from Lowe’s a hilarious/exciting read.

    From what you’ve written, especially with some of your other projects, it sounds like some days you doubt yourself, and your good sense, and your priorities, but honestly, that’s what makes things so amazing when you’re involved. So, on behalf of all of us (presumptuous? me?) just want to give you a HUGE dose of validation and support (even if it’s only verbal).

    • Yes, I agree. The other make-overs were nice, but they will date. This one is classic, and (apart from little things like the pillows, which are just accessories, and maybe the paint color) will not date. Some of the other make-overs included “improvements” that will need to be un-done with much cost and a lot of sweat later on. I am glad that the homeowners appreciated the work–you are right, it is lovely.

    • I completely agree with everything you’ve said. It seems like so many bloggers are still stuck in their glory days back in 2009. It’s really disappointing because I can’t draw any inspiration anymore because I’ve either already done it or it’s just dated and blah. Daniel has an amazing skill set, so much talent, isn’t afraid to take risks and makes me smile!

    • Yes! I actually liked the other makeovers too though. Some were a lot less work than others, but all of them ended up with a good result. I don’t think it’s a contest over which blogger “won”, however, I agree with you that Daniel is uniquely passionate. He’s very, very good and I’m so glad he blogs!

  47. Great job Daniel!!
    +1 on the visiting DC thought.

  48. That back corner is screaming out for a hot tub (kidding it looks amazing) :-) Fancy a trip to Australia, my back yard needs help.

  49. Brilliant! Such a wonderful job!

  50. Daniel, this makeover is simply beautiful. No property disasters are beyond your revitalization skills. I love everything!

  51. Ahh. It feels like I’ve hit a gold mine finding your blog. I’ve been keeping up with you for some time now and I feel as if we’re actually friends. I absolutely adore what you do and who you are. Stay funny as hell and amazing. XO

  52. Oh man, this looks so good. I’m always so amazed that you can have these visions for spaces that look like they are 99% stuck as they are … and then actually execute them with personality and style!

    Also, I know I’m biased but I looked at all the other Lowe’s links and sorry to them but your makeover is definitely the best. I mean they are all nice enough or whatever, but with the exception of YBH, most of the others seem mostly like just … buying and arranging furniture & decor. Obviously that makes a huge difference, but I love how you roll your sleeves up and get in there and you don’t just “make the space work,” you REWORK the space until it works. The raised planter, the knee wall & grill, the bar … it’s all just excellent and so inspiring. I can’t wait until I have a backyard and can (try to) implement some of this stuff.

    Keep up the great job and the fantastic writing, Daniel! Cheering for you and sending you lots of optimism for how Olivebridge is gonna end up; we all know it’ll be great and just, uh, hope you survive :D

  53. Oh Daniel, you’ve done it again. I love reading your blog so much — although I’ve never been able to relate on a logistical level (I’m super broke in a shitty urban rental). However, this one really took me by surprise. My landlord did a terrible bark-cover up in our backyard, in which we recently found glass bottles and pieces just beneath the soil. As concerned parents of dogs (who have crazy noses and sniffed out all the glass in a week, like a dangerous game of hide and seek), we’ve petitioned for a total yard overhaul, and the pavers idea is JUST what I needed to see right now. What a perfect solution for an awkward sized, dog-proof haven. And I don’t feel intimidated to DIY. You magical peach, you.

  54. I need step-by-step instructions on building the BBQ wall & side table please.

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