Our Home: Backyard Oasis

Thank you for all of your questions and kind comments on our home remodel process! Today’s post is the final post detailing what we’ve done with our Los Altos fixer upper and I’d like to think that I’ve saved the best for last.  When we made the decision not to add additional square feet to our home we knew we could make up for it by adding square footage to our exterior spaces.  Our goals were to spruce up the exterior laundry room, add a deck that would double as an additional living room, find room for our hot tub, and give Harper a low-maintenance grassy area that could double as a practice area for chipping and putting.

It’s still hard to believe that we originally started with this…

And were able to transform it into this…

Crazy right? Well, our favorite vendors from ELS Home Builders and Sierra Lumber played a huge role along with the Kuzak’s Closet crew.

Our closing date was July 7th 2017 and had a jungle on our hands.  With the interior engineering and design pending until September, Billy and the guys helped us clear the yard to uncover just what we were dealing with. We cleared out plants that would be in the way of a potential deck, trimmed back trees, and cleared out weeds and miscellaneous bricks and walking paths.

Once it was stripped down it felt so much bigger! One main benefit to having a 900 square foot house on a 7,000 square foot lot is that the yard feels that much larger.


Evan and Fernando from the ELS Home Builder crew opened up the back of the house early on during the interior remodel process and that is when we could really start to visualize how the space would look and feel.

The sliders went in and the exterior was painted just before we moved into the house in December of 2017 and we started the deck in January of 2018.

Sierra Lumber built the deck and replaced all of our fences.  I’ve mentioned Tim in my posts before, he is a total hoot and if you have a potential project I can refer you to Rob to measure and create your quote and he can request Tim as the foreman on your project.  We had to make changes in real-time on the deck and the fences and Tim was full of ideas and options.

Our lot is on a slope so the design of the deck had to shift from 1 step on the south side to 3 steps on the north side.  We chose to install Trex decking over Redwood because of the low maintenance appeal and I love how it turned out! This swatch highlights it up against our interior floors and it’s a pretty close match.  When the sliders are open it feels like a seamless extension of our home.



Tammy from Kuzak’s Closet created the design plan for our landscaping.  She is so talented and we are forever grateful that she gave up her nights and weekends to help with our little project! This is her original design and for the most part we stuck with it.  The only change we made was swapping the grass path out for a turf lawn off the deck and opted to install a blue stone path instead of decomposed granite.  It increased our budget significantly but I didn’t want to deal with Harper tracking in mud from the grassy path or decomposed granite on a daily basis.


After the initial yard cleanup…


One more time! Before!

After! We bought our hot tub when we lived at our rental and moved it over.  It’s a must have with my job to take the aches and pains away from all of the lugging and lifting. Also, can we talk about the new fence? What a major difference! When we moved in our neighbor on the hot tub side, Hal, asked if we would be interested in splitting the replacement cost of the fence and we jumped at the opportunity.  Most neighbors fight over sharing the cost and we are still thankful for how smooth it went.  His lot is about 3 feet higher than ours so having a new retaining wall and more privacy is great. The clean feel of the solid fence is also great, now three of our four sides match.

After one trip to the rock yard with Billy I knew that the blue stone would really amp up the look of the backyard.

We spent 2-3 days shopping for materials which was a hoot.  Most of the places Billy used to shop at when he owned his own landscaping business 8-9 years ago have either moved or closed.  Billy doesn’t drive using road names or directions, he just uses a weird internal GPS so I have to use all of my patience while riding along side of him in Big Red.

We had the best luck with service and price at Peninsula Building Materials in Sunnyvale.  We were able to make some friends out on the yard who helped us move pallets to inspect the size, thickness, and shimmer of each lot.  We were going for medium pieces that weren’t too thick with a minimal amount of shimmer. You can only imagine Billy trying to explain that to someone!

After we selected the stone we brought home samples to compare the filler in between each piece. Light and bright won!

Billy in his element!

My in my element! It was difficult to balance the busy schedule at Kuzak’s Closet with the remodel process but I made a resolution to enjoy it and I did.

Tammy found a vendor who would install the turf on a Saturday and sell us the material at wholesale. It’s tough to pick turf and my best advice is to take samples home, inspect them various lighting, and walk on them to check for comfort and heat.  We selected a higher quality model that stays cooler than most.

Action shot from install day…

Billy supervising from the sidelines.  He didn’t want to miss a thing!

Looking good!



We bought our patio furniture at our rental and it works quite nice on our deck.  If I started over I would buy something without cushions because we don’t have a garage for rainy season storage but it works! I bought a TV at a Kuzak’s Closet estate liquidation and you can often find us watching classic movies on Friday nights or watching golf on Sundays out on the deck.

The yard on the north side of the lot before…

After! The fence on this side is original but it’s got plenty of years left.  We had extra stone so we added a seating area with a patio set from a Kuzak’s Closet estate sale.  Down the road we may add a little cottage or shed in that corner.  Next to the patio set on the left you will see a plum tree and an orange tree original to the house. They are pretty much the only two plants/trees that made the cut during the process.  The fruit on both is fantastic, Harper especially enjoys the oranges.

Here are a few more afters of the patio…

The vintage barn light is from CocoWeb.

Moving onto the laundry room.  Yep, it’s outside! I have a friend that lives in Wisconsin and said it’s better than doing laundry in the basement and she’s rightt!

This space received a total overhaul.  New pergola, new cover, new cabinets, new lighting, new appliances, new concrete pad, the list goes on.  The county wanted us to remove the existing pergola when we applied for the permits for the project but our contractor Evan from ELS Home Builders talked them out of it.  He advocated that we needed the additional functional space and he was so right!


After! Pretty crazy how different it looks and feels!

This photo was taken during demo and it shows what we would be missing if we would have had to remove it during the permitting process.

Fernando from ELS Home Builders in action!


This space stays dry in the rainy months allowing us to park bikes, air dry laundry, and store golf clubs, tools, hot tub and household supplies. We replaced the HVAC system when we moved everything into the attic and during that process we added air conditioning, truly the best money I’ve ever spent.  Above the air conditioner is a tankless water heater that was swapped out of an interior closet to make room for a pantry and walk in closet.

The exterior cabinets were stock from a local cabinet shop and the counter tops are look-alike quartz.  Nothing fancy but it looks fancy, gotta love that!

Well, that’s a wrap! I’m officially done sharing before and afters from our home remodel and I’m a bit sad it’s over.  I’d love to do it again someday!  If you are just jumping in on this post you can click on the blog tag or follow this link “Los Altos Tiny Home Remodel” and it will take you to previous posts featuring the interior and exterior curb appeal.


Photo credit for the beautiful afters goes to Kate Skogen from JetKat Photo.

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