My Backyard Renovation- Design Plan & Inspiration

 As I’m sure some of you know by now, we have been in the middle of a pool and backyard renovation for the last couple of weeks (you can see some of the progress in my Instagram stories). I’ve had quite a lot of interest and various questions about what I’m doing, and how we decided on our choices, so I thought today it would be fun to share with you my design process for the renovation. I’m going to show you the outdoor spaces that were inspiring me, my mood board, and also share with you how I changed it all halfway through, lol!

To be honest, when I first had the bids done I hadn’t really given the hardscape much thought. I was in a hurry to get started, and we thought we didn’t want to spend too much. As a result, I had the contractor bid the entire yard with stamped concrete. And then about two weeks in, that started to seem like not such a great idea to me!

For one thing, our yard is fairly large and we had over 1500 square feet of concrete come out, so I was nervous that doing concrete over the same space wasn’t going to feel different enough. Also, our home was built in the 1970s (#worstarchitecturaldecadeever) and since I don’t have a ton of  interest or detail in the house itself, a huge yard of concrete just seemed so boring. So, I went through my Pinterest Pool Inspiration and Outdoor Living boards for some ideas and I noticed a theme. A lot of the houses I had pinned were either limestone or travertine or something of that nature. Very simple but very beautiful.

backyard renovation inspiration limestone hardscape elegant pool and landscapeOne of my most pinned images is this home in Italy. Architecture by Michele Bonon and landscape design by Nicolo Grassi via The Daily Beast.


backyard renovation inspiration gorgeous home black shutters pool with limestone hardscapeAnd I love this traditional home with black shutters and a pretty pool surrounded by travertine. Via Howard Design Studio.


So, after deciding on travertine, and even managing to find the one I wanted wholesale, two things happened. First, my contact at the manufacturer said I couldn’t get it for ten more days. At the time, that seemed way too far away and I felt it would make the project take too long. Secondly, I realized the travertine was almost invariably in a yard with a rectangular pool. As a result, my husband and I both started wondering if it wouldn’t look as good with our free form pool. So, I went back to the drawing board (Pinterest boards in this case πŸ˜‰ ). And I found that another look I was drawn to were hardscapes with natural stone.


backyard renovation inspiration stone hardscape and pool coping Design by Lisa Luby Ryan.


backyard renovation stone coping and hardscape builtin grill fireplace under pavilion Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design. Via Houzz.


backyard renovation inspiration stone surrounding pool and shed charming french inspired yardLove all the stone in this yard! via Debra Hall Lifestyle.


Sometimes when I’m deciding on a design element, or making a big design decision, I analyze, and analyze, and over-think, and analyze some more. Until finally, one day, it just clicks. And I know it’s the right decision. That’s what happened with the stone. As I started looking at these pictures, and we brought home some stone samples, I knew it was just what the yard needed! It would add some much needed interest to our boring exterior. It also feels somewhat European, something stamped concrete definitely doesn’t. And it’s timeless. We wanted something that wouldn’t go out of style quickly, so the fact that stone is classic and has been used forever, really helped finalize that decision for me.

So though it took awhile, and probably delayed the backyard renovation at least as long as waiting for the travertine would have, haha, we decided on the stone and I’m so glad we did! It’s so pretty, and I love the natural element it brings to the yard. We will be doing concrete in between the stone paths, trim, and pool coping, due to price. But I am really excited about the rustic charm it will bring to the yard!

So, for reference, here’s a look at the yard as it stood before we started…

backyard renovation before photo pool landscape hardscape dated 1970s

It’s a little embarrassing showing these – eek! The landscaping was horribly overgrown, and never my style to begin with. The pool is original to the house and had never been changed. I found 1977 etched in the concrete when they were removing it so it was a 40 year old pool!


backyard renovation before photo concrete bare yard 1970s

My favorite: two different concrete types, poured at two different times.


backyard renovation cracked concrete landscape grass before photo

The patio cover will stay as we put that in, we still like it, and it’s in good shape.

I can’t even tell you how exciting it was just seeing all of this removed! My husband and I joked that even dirt was better than the ugly concrete and overgrown landscaping that was there before!

And now, here is an idea of what I’m thinking for the overall look…..


Backyard Renovation Mood Board

backyard renovation mood board and inspiration french country inspired

The pool coping will be in stone, as will the trim around all of the pool decking and patio areas. My existing furniture will stay, but I’d like to add a new outdoor chandelier. I’ll also be doing some shopping to get more French inspired vintage items, like planters, a console table, and maybe some architectural elements (if I can find them!) Our landscaping is going to be very simple, with the pool surrounded by white iceberg roses and creeping fig which will fill in all the walls and fencing.

Some ideas for you if you want to create a similar look!

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*affiliate links included for your convenience*


And that’s it! I can’t wait for it to be finished so we can enjoy it – hopefully before the summer’s entirely over! I’ll be doing a full reveal post when we’re done, but in the meantime, I will share videos in my Instagram stories if you’re on there and want to take a look!

And later this week I’m leaving for Haven, so for any of you reading who are bloggers who will be there too, be sure to say hello!




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    1. Thanks so much Liren! I’m SO ready for it to be done!!


  1. So exciting to see what you do out there! I love your plans and the way it continues your style from the interior of your home. As you know, I am so sad to be missing Haven…especially since you will be mentoring this year! I know you are going to inspire so many people and will end up having the best time!

    1. Aww, thanks so much Shelley! That’s such a nice thing to say. I really hope it does look like my inside style, it’s just hard with budget constraints, you know?

      And I’m bummed you’re not going to be at Haven! I will really miss you my friend!


  2. I love your pool board inspiration! We are building a pool from scratch, not remodeling one, and it is taking *forever*. Can’t wait to see your finished pool!

    1. Oh wow Angelina, that is a much better way to go! I had to work with a shape I didn’t pick and some really dumb decisions made long ago, haha! I know yours will be stunning just like the rest of your house!

      And thank you for your sweet words and for stopping by:)


  3. Glittered Roses says:

    I really love your inspiration boards and am looking forward to seeing all your pictures. My pool was built in 1978, we are also looking into renovations, I’ll be checking back often. Have a wonderful time at Haven

    1. Thanks so much Yvonne! I’ll be anxious to see what you choose as well. It was difficult to balance what I really want with budget, but hopefully, it will be better than before!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  4. Sounds like it is going to be amazing! Can’t wait to see it all completed. So wish I could go to Haven, but it is my daughter’s 16th birthday. πŸ™

    1. Thank you Holly – all I can say, is anything will be better than what I had before, haha! So sad you can’t go to Haven, I think you would love it! But maybe next year:)


  5. Very pretty choices! Can’t wait to see what it looks like when it is done!

    1. Thanks so much Ellen! I can’t wait either:)

      thank you for stopping by!