Tour Our House’s Outdoor Spaces (Before We Go to Town On Them!)

The backyard space of this property—while poorly maintained—was one of the top reasons we put in an offer!

Want to see what we liked so much? Let’s go!

front of tudor-style house with overgrown bushes and open garage
Don’t worry, we repainted the exterior of our home!

We’ll start in the front yard before heading to the backyard…

…because the front is quick!


To the right of the yellow front door (which you’ll have seen if you took our downstairs tour), are some interesting-looking bushes that have been shaped into swirls. Kinda reminds me of Disneyland.

But you’ll soon see, Disneyland this house is not.

(For starters, I don’t think Disneyland allows many dry-rotted wood shelves below their windows, which is what we’re looking at here.)

windows overlooking flagstone patio and two sculpted plants
You can see how we updated this space here!

Keep rotating to your left, and you’ll get this view:

brown fountain in flagstone patio
See how we updated our fountain to make it work again here!

It looks promising, doesn’t it? A nice fountain with some spotlights.

None of which work. Including the fountain.

That was the least of our worries.

It’s okay. This was a short sale house. We knew we might be in for some surprises!

Turning back to the right, you’ll see our house exterior with the yellow front door (and a glimpse up to our second floor:

yellow front door of house with window above
You can find what new paint colors we chose for our home here!

Keep rotating right and you’ll start to see this huge wall, which requires that you back up to fully take it in:

side exterior wall of house with overgrown plants

The overgrown-ness of the plants is hard for me to convey to you here in pictures.

exterior house wall with overgrown plants and fountain in foreground

We were told the owners had a gardener coming every week, but clearly no one was really taking care of this situation. No one was loving on these plants, or this house.

Have no fear, plants. Jess is here to help lovingly restore you to former glory.

Look at the desperation of this jasmine (the trunk of which is far down to the left, but over the years it’s climbed ALL THE WAY UP THE GUTTER to try to get some sunlight and space!).

stucco wall of house, two story with jasmine plant growing up

This entryway feels SO DARK.

If you step out and look again at the path to the front door, that huge plant leaning away from the wall doesn’t really beckon you in, does it?

Kinda looks like a plant that might come alive and eat you as you try to pass by. (I knew I shouldn’t have watched that Harry Potter movie.)

front of tudor-style house with overgrown bushes and open garage
We’re still in shock after painting our house exterior!

Let’s move around to the backyard, shall we?


Mosy around to the right of the garage, and we’ll be at the gate to our side yard.

side yard with pergola and gate to front of house
You won’t believe what we turned this space into!

To the right you can see the sliders to the downstairs bedroom/guest room, with that first pergola mentioned on the downstairs tour.

Keep backing up and you’ll be underneath one of the two MASSIVE ficus trees (related to the fig tree! same family! I think that’s a fun fact, but we all know I AM A PLANT NERD) that we fell in love with in this backyard.

view under tree across lawn to side yard with small pergola

Turn slightly right and you’ll see the sliders to “The Fireplace Room.” (Named so because at this point we hadn’t decided what room it would be—family room? dining room?—as mentioned during our downstairs tour.)

view of back and side of house across lawn, with small pergola
Wondering how you can save serious money on your backyard reno? We show you how it’s possible!


You are now standing on our lawn with the ficus trees on your right.

They provide so much shade here in California.

You can’t BUY trees that mature in a new house! Those babies started really selling us on this place. (Or maybe I should say “those oldies.” They’re incredible.)

view across grass to pergola and pool, with large ficus trees on right
Every single one of our backyard makeover projects can be found here!

Walking closer, you can see there’s a removable pool fence in place, and ginormous fan palms.

removable pool fence with pool behind it, and two fan palm trees in background
Why we ripped out our backyard and pool!

Now we’ll step under the main backyard patio pergola for a bit of shade and to check out the view.

view under pergola to outdoor dining seating with pool in background
Backyard makeover!


view from under pergola with pool in background
Want to see an apocalypse preview… I mean… what our backyard looked like when we demo’ed out our backyard and pool?

It’s all still the original tile and brick from the 80s.

pool with steps going down and chaises in distance
You can see how we began the process of our backyard makeover here!

Our agent kept talking about how we could refinish the pool, but at this point it was just bringing back childhood memories of swimming in pools just like this in 1980s California, so I didn’t dislike it.

pool and jacuzzi with stucco seating and brick edging
You can find our updated backyard and pool here!

Even when he pointed out the completely missing tiles on the jacuzzi spillway, we waved it away as an easy fix later.

You can still get matching pool tile 30 years later, right?

view of jacuzzi with missing tile on spillway

Looking back towards the house from the southern end of the pool:

back of house with pergola, pool fence, and pool in foreground

From that same spot, looking to the right behind the jacuzzi, you can see a stucco wall that hides the pool equipment.

bushes and tree with stepping stones leading past them to a stucco wall

Now, the view from the opposite end of the pool:

pool with brick and concrete and two chaises pointed towards it

And looking back to the house from this same spot:

back of house showing removable pool fence and arbor

There’s a pillar falling over in the back corner, but who’s looking?

Pillar detached from wall and leaning

Us. We’re looking.

I’m looking at all the cracks we see around the pool and wondering, “Was this from an earthquake? Is this going to continue? Will the earth suddenly open up and swallow our pool? What’s going on?”

Settling, the agent told us. Just normal settling.


We noticed that this property had views of the mountain ranges in the distance, but they were partially hidden behind overgrown landscaping.

partially obstructed view of mountains, overgrown bushes in way
We took fulllllll advantage of this hidden view!

Since I am a sucker for mountains (see possible reason for moving to New Zealand), this great view was of note.

Hidden views in a fixer upper = jackpot!

view over fence to mountains in distance


Pass the window into the living room addition (a.k.a. The Ballroom for those of you who danced with us on the downstairs tour)…

side of house with window and dog run in distance

…and you’ll find yourself at the gate to a graveled dog run.

gate opening to dog run with gravel
This space will eventually become a fun place for our kids!

Turn around and you’ll see more plants begging us to help them…

scant landscaping with rocks on ground

…plus a view of another “lawn” area.

backyard with overgrown bushes and chaises by pool

Although the prior owners had stopped watering it long ago, so it was basically just dirt. Dirt by the pool.

Do you see as much potential as we do?!? First, Jess can’t wait to get a pair of clippers and start taking down those overgrown bushes with the view of the mountains! (You know she’s doing that Day 1…)

If you missed our other tours, the downstairs tour + the upstairs tour are still available.


  1. See how we’ve landscaped our no-grass front yard.
  2. See what we did to the backyard soon after moving in.
  3. See our completed renovation of this entire backyard and pool area here.

Find what you need in The Complete List of our backyard remodel!

Find our guide on How to Save Serious Money On Your Backyard Reno!

➜ Our complete list of every single home project is viewable HERE.

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