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.


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.




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.



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.


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!


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.


Gah, it still pains me to see that bench!


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.


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!).


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

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