Made by Carli: Practical Advice for Refreshing Your House

Blogger and home designer shares how she transformed her South County home


Throughout the pandemic, backyards turned into wedding venues, sports arenas, campsites, and more. They became important extensions of our indoor living spaces and more than ever, homeowners are putting dollars toward transforming their backyards and front porches into personal outdoor oases. Here are some unique ways to get inventive with your outdoor spaces.

Go Al Fresco

An al fresco kitchen is a great way to gussy up your backyard. Especially if you like to host a lot of outdoor parties, bring your kitchen outside and create a workspace in the fresh air so you can still mingle with guests while preparing meals. Before you undergo your renovation, it’s important to recognize that modular kitchens and pre-assembled models may be relatively easy to install, but they still require careful planning and knowledge of local building codes. A landscape designer can help you assess your backyard’s needs, and a contractor can help you plan for any impact to your home’s exterior. When it comes to choosing a countertop surface and other installments, be sure you’re picking materials that will hold up to the northeast’s changing seasons and severe weather. 

Explore New Shapes

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, literally, when it comes to your flower beds and berms. When installing a new garden, uniquely shaped boxes make a striking impact on your backyard for a small investment of time and money. Growing up, my mom was always in the garden, and I feel so lucky she passed that love of gardening onto me. Not only does gardening beautify your home and increase curb appeal, but it can become a favorite pastime. When envisioning your dream outdoor space, take the time to explore your yard and learn what grows best and when, and determine if new landscaping should be added.

Think in Terms of Zones

When renovating an outdoor space, think in terms of zones or outdoor rooms, if space allows. This can include an area for lounging and dining, a cozy nook or courtyard, as well as a place to gather around a fire or chiminea. Don’t forget to look for areas with hidden potential where you can carve out space for entertaining. In my home, for example, we have an area off the breezeway, between the garage and house, that creates the perfect little nook for a courtyard. After a lot of raking and weed clearing, we were able to hang some string lights, add a table and chair set along with an umbrella to transform it into a charming, livable space.

Refresh and Redo the Exterior

Siding technology has come a long way. You don’t have to compromise the natural look of cedar shingles to get the strength of fiber cement (consider Hardie® Shingle by James Hardie). Vertical siding now comes in a wide array of color and pattern options for farmhouse or modern styles.

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