Backyard Renovation

OMG guys, I can’t believe how long it took for us to finish this project! What we thought would turn into a 2-3 month project turned into a year! We started on July 13, 2017 and finished the project on June 11, 2018. Granted, life and work definitely got in the way. We could’ve finished this project way sooner if it weren’t for work and stuff.
Before – Lots of land, no landscaping
When we bought our house the front and back yards weren’t landscaped. Our ultimate goal is to be able to use more of our yard since we have so much square footage back there. So the first project was to create an area where we could put our outdoor chairs and tables. Kinda extend our covered patio so we could BBQ, have outdoor dinners, use our fire pit, etc. As first time homeowners we knew this would be a huge undertaking for us. It was going to be our first big investment into our home. Since It was kind of overwhelming we didn’t really know where to start. We didn’t even know how much to budget but thought about $3000 might be reasonable. We contacted a few landscapers to give us an estimate but it was way out of our budget so we decided to just slowly work on it ourselves. It was so rewarding to finish but damn, it was so hard! No regrets, though.
Our first goal was to decide how big we wanted the space. Our backyard is flat land with no trees or anything to abstruct/work around so we had a blank canvas to work with. It is also a rectangle so it was really easy to dissect the yard into. We decided to go with a 725 sq. ft. space for what we called the “patio extension.” I did extensive research, went online, watched YouTube videos, read blogs, and went shopping at Lowe’s and Home Depot to start to create a realistic budget.
Let’s start digging!
Once we decided on the dimensions we got to digging! This was the hardest part, it’s really labor intensive and took time to make sure the slope of the land was going away from the house for rain fall. You don’t want excess water to pool or go toward the house. That can lead to foundation issues down the line. We started with 4 inches closest to our covered patio and went down to 6 inches as we went farther away from the house. This is what took us over a year to do lol!
Finished “pit”
Once we finished digging (a year later) we wet the soil to help it settle a little and sprayed it with weed killer. A few days later we laid down our weed barrier, put in some landscape edging around the perimeter, and went to order our rock. At first weren’t sure what we were going to use for the patio extension but obviously price was a factor. We were thinking about doing concrete, stepping stone with rock or grass in between, brick, or rock. We decided to go with rock since it was the most affordable option and the most versatile. We could always add stepping stone in the future if we wanted to. 
Weed barrier down
There’s a great family owned building materials company about a mile from our house, Jacobi Building Materials. We went there, told them what we wanted, and everything was spelled out and really simple. They asked for the dimensions, they told us how much weed barrier we’d need, how much gravel, and they were right on the money. We hardly had any waste! Plus, they deliver! If you live in the San Fernando Valley area, I highly recommend seeing them.
The rock was delivered at 7 am sharp and we got to work right away. Charlie and I moved all the rock from our driveway into the pit we dug in 6 hours. It was just us, 2 shovels, a wheelbarrow, and lots of water!
Finished! Look at that cute pup enjoying her new patio
All in all we spent a total of about $800, WAY LESS than our expected $3000!! The $800 included shovels, a wheelbarrow, a tamper, the weed barrier, weed killer, the edging, gravel, and delivery.
View number 2
In hindsight there are a few things I would’ve done differently:
  1. I would’ve dug 2 inches and sloped to 4 inches instead of 4 inches to 6 inches. It really wasn’t necessary to go that deep and we probably would’ve spent a little less on the rock.
  2. We should’ve done this in the fall or winter, it was so hot most of the days we worked on it and I got such a bad tan!
  3. Because it took us so long to dig the pit weeds and grass began to grow where we previously dug. It took extra time to remove and kill what was growing in that area. Next time I’d make sure that we could consistently work on the project so we don’t create extra work for ourselves.
  4. We made the mistake of not creating a straight line to follow when we were digging so our patio extension is a bit squiggly lol! We’re going to cover it up eventually but it still bugs me! We should’ve either spray painted the perimeter, used wood for our edging so it would be pretty straight from the beginning, or put stakes at the corners and tied rope to keep the lines straight.
Honestly, if I could do it over and had the money to pay someone I think I would still do it myself. The sense accomplishment and pride I feel for my home after finishing this project is invaluable. I got out there, sit on the patio, and stare out into the yard for no reason. I rarely ever went out there before this. Now I have breakfast outside, we have friends over and eat dinner back there. Even though the yard still has a long way to go (we still have so many different sections to work on) I love being out there and get to enjoy the space!
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New Kitchen Upgrade – Stuff we Like

Happy voting day! I voted early this year to avoid the lines and the craziness. Like I said in my previous post, I hope you all go out there and vote. Before I get into my post for today I just want to reiterate why it’s so important, especially the millennial generation (I just barely make the cut lol), to vote. I say that because 1. the future is in our hands. The future of this country is determined by the choices we make, and more specifically, the votes we cast. What kind of America do you want to see in the foreseeable future? Our future. What kind of America do you want to leave behind for our children and generations to come? Secondly but equally important, Millennials – Do you realize how lucky and blessed we are to vote? Women…minorities…you can actually have a say in what happens to our country and our local community. We didn’t have these basic rights in the past, and as an individual that falls into both of those categories I’m going to make sure that I honor those that fought for me. That’s pretty damn awesome when you think about it. How fortunate and lucky are we?! We can’t ever take that for granted so exercise your right and be grateful that you can!

But enough of that. We’re talking about something else today 😉

Charlie and I have a new venture coming up that I can’t talk about just yet, but it has something to do with food. Because of that we’re going to be working in our home kitchen a lot and we’ve been running out of functional counter space. We have this weird “window” in the kitchen that shows into the piano area. It’s probably 5-6 inches in width and I usually just put junk on it like extra chop sticks, pot holders, etc. The most use it gets is at our holiday parties where I’m able to kind of put food on it for our pot lucks.

Before 1
Before 1
Before 2
Before 2

I’ve been thinking about what to do with this awkward window thing since we bought the house 5 years ago. I was thinking of tearing it down to open up the kitchen more, but what if the previous owners kept it because it’s load bearing? Probably is. Don’t want to worry about that. What if I add cabinets to that wall to add more storage? I could, but it would be kind of costly (God knows yo’ girl is on a budget) and since our kitchen is still new it would be hard to match the cabinets perfectly. So…what to do? I know! Breakfast bar!

Breakfast Bar 1
Breakfast Bar 1
Breakfast Bar 2
Breakfast Bar 2

We scored a really good deal at Ikea! They were selling a 74″ solid wood butcher block counter top for only $99. We bought some industrial strength adhesive, shelving brackets for added support, and cut down the butcher block to the correct size. BOOM! For less than $140 Charlie turned our sad/awkward window to a functional/pretty breakfast bar.



It didn’t take long either! It took Charlie no more than 2 hours to measure, cut it down, sand, and secure it onto the wall. I ordered a couple stools from Target to finish off the look for $40 a piece. Can’t wait to use it for that new venture I was talking about! Stay tuned 🙂




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