How our Backyard was Made

Modern California Backyard Patio Reveal | brittanyMakes

You long time readers out there know, this back yard didn’t start off this way. It was a deserted, lifeless plot of dirt. Legend has it the tenants renting the home from the original owners before we bought it used to frequently light bon fires and burn garbage. Super classy stuff it sounds. Here she looks on the day we bought the house:

Backyard before 1

We lived for a year with our backyard like this. Imagine having a yard twice the size of your house, and just pretending it didn’t exist. Last spring we just decided to go for it, called a recommended landscaper and got to work almost immediately.

Backyard before 3

The landscaper, who is actually more of a hardscape kinda guy, came over and we got to brainstorming, drawing in the dirt helped get the scale of the spaces we would need. We tried our best to turn our dream backyard into something that we could afford, I whipped up this super classy professional CAD drawing (haha yeah right, graph paper and colored pencil it was!) and transferred our ideas to paper.

Backyard sketch

You might think the bocce court was a splurge, but actually it’s drainage in disguise! Our backyard sloped downward and to an angle pretty significantly. We needed to level it all out to accommodate our own drainage, otherwise we would drain right into our neighbors yards. Digging a rock filled trench was the answer, which we topped with compacted decomposed granite and framed out with 2″x12″s, therefore creating the perfect bocce court! Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from day one.

Backyard-Construction-8

Day one, the team arrived and started framing out the patio benches and the 2’x2′ pathway.  They then poured rough concrete over rebar and into the frames. While the concrete set, half the team spent the following couple days jackhammering out the old concrete, while the other half started leveling out the yard, framing the patios & pathway, and digging out the bocce.

Backyard-Construction-7

Backyard-Construction-5

Backyard-Construction-1

A couple days later after the patios & pathway were completely framed, the cement truck arrived (which I missed and didn’t get a photo of) and the finish concrete was poured in place and over the top of the rough framed out bench walls.

Backyard-Construction-10

Backyard-Construction-2

I originally wanted the bocce court to be framed out in concrete as well, but pouring concrete is EXPENSIVE and wasn’t in our budget. The bocce was framed out with treated lumber.

Backyard-Construction-9

A few guys started on the floating benches. There were only a few things that didn’t go according to plan, the floating benches were one of them. I was super meticulous about in the design, and having the benches 100% “floating” was a must. What you see below was not the final design. I came home to find those 4″x4″ chunks of lumber sitting under the bench seats – not pretty!

Backyard-Construction-12

To some, it may not look bad, but this wasn’t in the original plan. We discussed metal brackets, and felt the landscaper was skimping because we were behind schedule. We called our contractor who worked on our floors & bathroom, and asked if he could help find a solution before the situation got worse. Luckily, he had a buddy who specializes in welding and metal work.

Backyard-Construction-13

Gah, it still pains me to see that bench!

Backyard-Construction-16

While our contractor’s metalsmith friend was making the floating brackets and supports for the benches, the landscaper’s team moved forward with the rest of the yard. Base rock was laid in preparation of turf, then a layer of decomposed granite, then the turf was laid and nailed in place with these giant railroad looking nails (sorry, no picture!). One piece of advice – if you’re thinking to lay turf, make sure the grain of the turf is all facing the same direction! Our landscapers overlooked this when cutting the turf, and now we can see the seams in some sections of the yard because the turf grain isn’t facing the same direction. It’s a small nuance, but you’ll notice it even if your friends and guests don’t.

laying turf

Things moved really quickly after that, I didn’t get very many photos taken. Let me explain how we fixed the floating benches. Our contractor’s metalsmith friend fabricated these brackets to lift the backless floating bench, and support all 5 pieces of lumber. The supports are so thin you can hardly notice them – this is exactly what you want for a true “floating” bench.

Floating-benches-backyard

The benches against the concrete walls got a slightly different treatment. Our contractor chiseled out small holes in the concrete walls and slid an L shaped bracket through the backside and out through the front and drilled into the lumber from beneath. (Don’t mind the mess, I took this photo this morning!).

Floating-benches-backyard2

The finish concrete on the walls had to be touched up after installing these brackets. But let me tell you, it looks a thousand times better without that lumber!

Modern Backyard with Floating Benches

You might be curious about the fire pit too. We ran a gas line to the fire pit, and filled it with lava rock. It was an added cost to run the line, but the convenience of turning on the pit with essentially the flip of a switch, over burning wood, was totally worth it.

This was a huge project completed in a very short amount of time (roughly 3 weeks) and we definitely learned a lot along the way. PS I’m hoping to dedicate a post specifically to our turf research and selection (we looked at over 15 samples!), but if there’s anything else I missed, leave your question in the comments below and I’ll answer them!

xo, Britt

Modern California Backyard Reveal

Modern California Backyard Patio Reveal | brittanyMakes

Happy Blogger Stylin’ Home Tours week! It’s the summer edition, hosted by my friend Lindsay of The White Buffalo Styling Co. Welcome everyone from Hi Sugarplum! I’m SO excited to be sharing the reveal of our backyard patio! It’s been over a year coming, and the timing couldn’t be better to give you a little tour before summer hits hard in your neck of the woods.

Modern California Backyard Patio Reveal | brittanyMakes

This is a big post full of lots of photos, click below to read more!

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The Bathroom is Finished!

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

I’m thrilled to report, our main bath is officially complete. I can’t say the same for other spaces in our house (living room, I’m looking at you), but this little section of our home is done. Horray! All that was missing before was a little shelf above the toilet. I tried out a few in this spot, a floating shelf, a shelf with brass brackets, and nothing was as perfect as this A Frame shelf.

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

I could have styled this shelf a dozen different ways, but chose memorable trinkets that mean something. Antonio, my husband, used to travel to India for work. He brought an elephant back from each of his trips. The little jewel box is made from marble from the Taj Mahal.

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

Matte black Jason Wu Brizo shower head & faucet | brittanyMakes

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

Black White & Walnut bathroom | brittanyMakes

 

Sources: | Matte back hex tile | Matte black wall mount faucet | brass wall sconces | brass knobs | white vessel sink | white subway tile | gold dipped light bulbs | mirror: IKEA hack | stool (coming soon) | brass wall hooksrug | bath tub | ocean print | toilet

Catch up on the remodel!

XO, Britt

Over the Weekend

Vintage Summer Camp Themed Party // brittanyMakes

We’ve been spending the last couple weeks prepping for Zano’s 2nd birthday party. His birthday falls over Memorial Day weekend, which is great! Perfect for bbq’s and family gatherings. We enjoy hosting and putting our backyard to good use, but don’t do it nearly as much as we should. Those bocce balls aren’t going to throw themselves! Zano’s birthday makes for a great excuse to have our giant family over for the afternoon.

simple #2 birthday smash cake

No birthday party is complete without a theme, I searched trusty Amazon for some party ideas and when I stumbled on this VW Bus play tent I knew a vintage summer camp theme was the way to go. Amidst all the planning and entertaining, I did not take any photos for the blog, doh! Can someone tell me how I can get a photographer attached to my hip? That must be the best kept secret with all those fashion bloggers. My husband refuses haha, no wonder I’m never in any photos. Anyway, I’ll post more about the theme later with more sources, because that’s the fun part 🙂

hot wheels matching cars

My husband and I aren’t the type of gift givers that go hog wild. We might do one big thing, a trip or vacation, but all of Zano’s gifts from us were PJ’s and summer clothes. We’re going to Disneyland later this summer and getting Zano a big kid bed, which we kind of dubbed as his birthday gifts.  My brother, on the other hand, bought Zano a Hot Wheels car that matches mommy’s car. My god it’s adorable! Who knew this would be one of the cutest things ever? Too bad Zano drives like a drunk person lol, still working on how to use the steering wheel.  My other brother gave Zano a Hot Wheels Lightening McQueen car. Between his uncles and our extended family, this kid has it made.

The best present of the day was for everyone who attended! We sang happy birthday to Zano, then took the cake away immediately and gave him his first present to open – a “big brother” shirt and an ultrasound photo! (Then we gave him his cake back, which he dove in face first) Zano is going to be a big brother! Everyone was so surprised! (PS don’t ask what my husband is wearing or why his face is shaved like that, he was dressed for the party theme hahaha).

Zano turns two

Zano turns two

Big Brother Shirt

Pretty exciting news! Zano doesn’t quite get it yet that he’s going to be a big brother. Any tips on prepping the first kiddo for the arrival of a second? I’ll definitely be obsessing over this for the next few months…

XO, Britt

12 Best Bathroom Shelves

 

12 Best Bathroom Shelves // brittanyMakes

I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit searching for the perfect shelf for our bathroom.  It’s the last element it needs to officially be “complete”. I wanted something simple, with quirk. Something that would stand out just a little bit, but also coordinate perfectly with the other elements in the space. I ordered a handful of different options, but returned them as they weren’t right for one reason or another. Turns out it’s a lot easier to pick the wrong thing than it is choosing the right one. Why is that?

Sources: one – marble shelf // two – wood & copper hanging shelf // three – copper floating shelf // four – brass geometric shelf // five – brass & glass shelf // six – Mid Century shelf // seven – A-Frame shelf // eight – hanging shelf // nine – wood diamond shelf // ten – floating wood shelf // eleven – brass L shelf // twelve – wood L shelf

xo, Britt

How to be a Successful Blogger with a Full Time job

brittanyMakes

Warning: this is a wordy post!

Having a career apart from the blog is something I don’t like to mention here often, as I feel it comes across as a complaint or an excuse that I can’t produce content at the same rate as other bloggers that don’t have careers or full time jobs. While that is my reality, what I realized very recently is you can still be successful as a blogger, or have a successful online voice, even if you’re unable to produce content on the daily. I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years now, and I figured I have a little nugget of encouragement I can share with folks who are thinking about starting a blog while balancing a day job.

eclectic seating | brittanyMakes

These are the 5 things I believe have been key contributors to the successes this blog has achieved:

Be authentic – Readers will be interested in reading about you, your personality, your spin on projects, your voice – not you pretending to be Martha Stewart or faking your way like you’re a design professional when you don’t have a client to call your own. I am really sensitive to authenticity, most readers (most other bloggers, honestly) can see right through a fake voice. Sure, some bloggers become success by the numbers while not being purely authentic, but honestly, it doesn’t last. I’ve seen some bloggers flame out because they couldn’t keep the charade going any longer. Basically, be you, and be proud to be you.

Be nice – This is totally the golden rule, treat others as you would want to be treated.  Folks don’t comment much on blog posts anymore, which is totally OK but as a blogger I know just how great it makes me feel when I receive a comment. I read each and every one, which leads me to believe that all other bloggers do too! If you want to grow your online presence and network, start by commenting on your favorite blogger’s posts. Interact with them on social media. Ask them questions that make them feel good, soon they will learn your name and click over to your blog, and hopefully find a friend in you. Most bloggers live, & love, to support each other. This is definitely a sure way to grow your network. Otherwise, how would other bloggers know who you are?

A hard and tragic lesson I learned his year is not everyone is capable of accepting someone’s kindness. I recently experienced this with a blogger I highly admire. I was always positive and encouraging in my comments. I connected with her style and even thought maybe one day we could be friends!  I look back now and laugh at how that sounds, but I still love her content and appreciate the way she paves a path in this space. Unfortunately she took me being nice as a threat, actually accused me of not being authentic and original, and even went to the extent to infer I must not know what I’m doing and needed to be taught a lesson.  Ridiculous, I know.

I still believe that being nice to others opens doors and generates friendships. I will continue to comment encouragingly, and work to build a network of bloggers that I can call my friends, and tell others that it’s one of the best pathways to growth.

DIY Copper Laptop Table | brittanyMakes

Be original – I’ll be the first to admit, my early days of blogging were testing out projects that I saw other folks do. Paint a piece of furniture with chalk paint? You got it! Refinish a table and blog about the steps as if you’re the only one on the planet who knows how to do it? You got it! I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, and learned from others and shared what I did without a thought of originality. It didn’t take much time to realize in order to stand out amongst the crowd, I had to develop original projects and tutorials that folks hadn’t seen anywhere else. It still took me a LOT of time to grow into my personal aesthetic, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what that is from go.

Authenticity and originality go hand in hand. You can’t be authentic if you’re not sharing original ideas and projects.

Don’t apologize – This one is tough. I used to be the type to overly apologize for things that I shouldn’t apologize for, for an error someone else made, for an awkward conversation, for my house being untidy. I realized in my late 20’s that I was beginning to not be perceived as an expert in my line of work, or being taken seriously. Sadly, being overly apologetic is actually known for being a female trait. I think it’s important not to apologize for things that you shouldn’t apologize for.

When it comes to the blog, if you haven’t posted for a week, don’t apologize! You don’t need to say sorry if you’re life prevents you from posting on your blog. Just pick up where you left off! If someone asks you why you haven’t posted, be confident and tell them the truth – sometimes life gets in the way. If you have a career, like I do, you’re providing for your family and that shit takes precedence. Trust me, your readers will understand without any explanation.

I like to think of apologizing and confidence as having an inverse relationship. The less you apologize, the more confident you become, and the more confident you are, the more people will trust you and look to you for guidance and expertise. Success is built on confidence, not apologies.

Know your limits & your boundaries – In the beginning of my blogging career, I thought success meant sponsored content. Of course it feels amazing when a brand you love wants to sponsor a post on your blog, and if you get big shot brands it makes you look wildly successful in the eyes of your peers and readers. But honestly, having purely sponsored content isn’t the end all for success anymore. Nowadays, many brands, even well known ones, take complete advantage of bloggers and ask them to essentially work for free. We could dedicate a weeks worth of posts on this topic, but bottom line don’t work for free if you feel you should receive compensation for your work. Placing a dollar value on your time is a line you’ll have to draw at one point or another.

For the longest time I was also terrified of declining a proposal for a sponsored post, thinking I should never say no. Once I started receiving requests from random companies to blog on topics completely irrelevant to the blog, I knew I had to start saying “no thanks”.  I started setting more boundaries and limits to what kind of content I wrote about here on the blog. I was already battling the challenge of carving out enough time in the week to generate content for the blog, why would I waste it on content that doesn’t represent me or my voice or my style? I don’t remember exactly when it was, but there was a distinct moment I decided that from that point forward everything I post on my blog and on social media, sponsored or not, was going to be content I generated myself, rooms I made over myself, photos I took myself, DIY projects I created myself, etc. If the sponsor fit my design aesthetic, my project pipeline, my values, I would engage with them. I would rather not post for a day than post something irrelevant to the blog. This is perhaps the biggest limit or boundary I’ve set for myself and this blog, but at the end of the day I want my blog to be 100% me.

brittanyMakes

What I found over years of reading hundreds of blogs is, my most favorite bloggers to follow are 100% authentic, true to themselves, don’t pretend to be someone they’re not. They’re nice to others and supportive in this community. They create & share original content. Best of all, they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s characteristics like these that make a blogger wildly successful.

I’m fast approaching my 5 year blogging anniversary, which is just a month away. Maybe it’s this milestone number, but I had started feeling insecure or doubtful about my online presence, like I hadn’t grown enough during these 5 years. It’s actually really stupid to feel that way, because earlier this year the blog was named by Domino as one of the top design blogs to follow. Also, our kitchen made it into print for the first time, April’s publication of Good Housekeeping! I might not have a husband who knows how to frame houses and reroute plumbing, or a studio space to house all my inventory (I store all my inventory in my garage! It totally pleases my husband, #not), but I think I am successful in my own way, and honestly that’s something to be proud of.

LoveB

My Navy Kitchen – Updated Photos

navy kitchen with gold accents // brittanyMakes

There are some problems only bloggers face, like stressing out over the quality of old photos.  Cedar & Moss asked to feature my kitchen in their lookbook, since our kitchen showcases a pair of C&M alto brass pendants above our island. It was the perfect excuse to retake photos of my kitchen, since my photography skills have improved a little bit over the years.

navy kitchen with gold accents // brittanyMakes

navy kitchen with gold accents // brittanyMakes

navy kitchen with gold accents // brittanyMakes

I get a lot of questions about the color of our cabinets. The navy is  Cyberspace by Sherwin Williams which we color matched to Kelly Moore Dura Poxy paint (for it’s durability and rave reviews on handling high traffic areas). Depending upon the time of day, the cabinets read a super dark, moody navy, and during the lightest part of the day they read much brighter. I like these photos I’m sharing today because they show the truest color of our cabinets.  I personally love a paint that changes color throughout the day.

navy kitchen with gold accents // brittanyMakes

navy kitchen with gold accents // brittanyMakes

If you’re interested in reading the renovation story, here are some quick links for you:

  1. We’re finally remodeling our kitchen & living room!
  2. The wall is gone and the beam is in!
  3. The kitchen take-down
  4. 5 kitchens influencing our design
  5. Countertops & 3D rendering of our plans
  6. Walls are up, floors are bare
  7. Cabinets installed!
  8. Painted cabinet drama
  9. Kitchen (pre flooring)
  10. Why wood tile
  11. Initial kitchen reveal

Sources: Cedar & Moss pendant lights | Roman shadesDelta faucet | Wood tile floors | Carrera marble counters | subway tile backsplash | farmhouse sink | exhaust hood | refrigerator | range | lower cabinet paint color: Cyberspace by Sherwin Williams color matched to Kelly Moore Dura Poxy | Target Windsor style counter height stools | Lew’s brass hardware | CB2 bell flush mount light | brass globe chandelier | dining table | dining chairs – vintage | brass vase | vintage rug

LoveB

Demoing #ProjectMyKindaKitchen

Have you forgotten about #projectmykindakitchen? Well I haven’t! We’ve hit a weird lull between finishing the kitchen installation without the finishing touches, like window treatments, counter stools, chandelier, etc. Those items are key to the full reveal, and I’m hoping they all get sorted out/installed very soon!

Last we talked, I showed the design plans and how we selected the cabinetry for the kitchen. Let me dive into the demo of the kitchen, as this is one of my favorite parts of the process! Remember the before?

#projectmykindakitchen before

Day one of demo and all cabinets were torn out quick. There’s nothing as satisfying as creating a blank slate.  Can you imagine having that florescent lighting in your home? The homeowners were so happy to see it go.

#projectmykindakitchen demo

#projectmykindakitchen demo

Notice that pocket door in the top left? Another major improvement to the flow of the kitchen was eliminating the pocket door and opening up that wall more so that the kitchen better connects to the living room.  Unfortunately (for the budget) this wall is load bearing, and we needed to insert a beam to allow for the weight of the house to continue to rest on this wall.  A lot of folks choose not to mess with load bearing walls, but sometimes getting you don’t have a choice if you want to get that open concept. (Remember? We removed a load bearing wall too!)

#projectmykindakitchen demo

It always gets worse before it gets better…

#projectmykindakitchen demo

We took everything down to the studs. Below is the china hutch wall, can you see it?

#projectmykindakitchen demo

When the walls are open like this, it’s the best time for the electrician to come in and install all the boxes. The hutch wall would have outlets and undercount lighting on the upper cabinets. We had boxes added flanking the window for sconces, and can lights throughout the kitchen. Very soon after the electrician was finished, new drywall was installed, then taped and textured.

#projectmykindakitchen demo

We were all eager to get the kitchen cabinets installed, but we needed to prep the floors. My client chose the same faux wood tile flooring that we installed in our house last year! Coincidence much? This flooring is fab and we couldn’t recommend it enough. It just so happened they loved it just as much.

Installing tile flooring can be tricky, and pricey, but when done right it will seriously last a lifetime. My client’s home had some minor leveling issues. I forget off of the top of my head, but I recall the contractor mentioning anything over an inch typically needs to be floated, which is just another major chip away at the budget. Rest assured, they no longer have any leveling issues!

flo#projectmykindakitchen installing wood tile flooring

Now that the floors were leveled, we could start installing the CliqStudios cabinets!

#projectmykindakitchen installing CliqStudios cabinets

My client chose the Dayton cabinet profile in two colors. The upper cabinets are “painted white” and the lowers are “studio gray”. We ordered a half dozen samples (free for everyone, by the way!) in various colors, and were surprised that studio gray read more of a light grayish green than it appears in the online swatch. I always think it’s a good idea to order samples outside your comfort zone, you never know! Originally we were thinking of white uppers and “urban stone” lowers, but once we held the sample in their kitchen, the amount of light was an issue and they ended up reading more dirty white than greige. Studio gray was the winner anyway, everyone fell in love with it quick.  I love that CliqStudios offers so many options when it comes to cabinet finishes and colors. I think they just need to add a navy to their lineup and all would be perfect!

Cab#projectmykindakitchen installing CliqStudios cabinets

Ahhh! It’s taking shape! Up next: counters, backsplash, and all the little details

*CliqStudios has partnered with us on this project by offering us a discount for sharing our story on the blog. CliqStudios couldn’t have been more of a dream to work with and I am thrilled to share our experience. This post is two of a four-part series. Read part one here.

Need to catch up? Check out the kitchen before photos here, the design process herethe floor plans here, and choosing cabinetry here

LoveB

The Benches are Stained!

Floating benches - Before

I’m happy to report, the benches have been sanded & stained! The only task remaining is sealing, but I am letting the stain cure a little bit. I spent literally the entire afternoon yesterday working on this side of the backyard. Last weekend I worked on the other half. No workout will make you more sore than 4 straight hours of sanding. I think my hands have finally stopped tingling, thank goodness.

Floating Bench - Before

This is what happens to wood when you don’t seal it before the season changes. So stupid of me, I knew better but never carved out time to do it, then the sun and rain over the last year bleached them out. GRR.

benches sanded

Modern Backyard with Floating Benches

Here’s a happy GIF for ya 🙂

Modern Bench Backyard GIF

What do you think of the stain color? I’m on the fence, but no way am I sanding that beyotch down again. I didn’t have a scrap piece to sample off of, and I had used a version of the stain mix we used in our sunroom and thought it would turn out similar. It’s slightly different, a little darker. The floating benches are made with redwood while our sunroom benches are made with fir (I think). Whatever! Anything is better than sun bleached wood in my opinion.

growing cactus garden

OH, and look at the growth on my cactus! He’s only been planted for 3 weeks, and the only one that looks to be growing.  I hope the others are as happy 🙂

LoveB

Gift Guide: For Mom

Mothers Day Gift Guide // brittanyMakes

ONE // TWO // THREE // FOUR // FIVE // SIX // SEVEN // EIGHT // NINE

I know you’ve been thinking about all the moms in your life lately, Mother’s day is coming up quick! I’ve made your life a little easier with 9 gift suggestions for your favorite mommy out there. Any of these are bound to please. I know I could certainly use more brass & fringe in my life 🙂

LoveB

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