Our red brick patio pavers were laid atop 1-2″ of find sand, and underneath that is several inches of crushed limestone. The limestone layer extends under our DIY planter boxes, which will help with drainage and still allow for any powerful plants to root their way into earth – well, fingers crossed! In any case, the…
  • Steph M. - August 29, 2016 - 9:00 AM

    That color looks stellar with everything else! Great job!ReplyCancel

  • Lori - August 29, 2016 - 9:29 AM

    It looks fabulous! And as anoather bonus for choosing the small gravel, I think you’ll find that maintaining it is MUCH easier than those beach pebbles, which get leaves and debris lodged in the crevices that even a leafblower has a hard time removing. If you’re a bit OCD like me, you’ll find yourself out there on your hands and knees picking the leaves out…not exactly relaxing or low maintenance!

    As a landscaper, it was really interesting to me seeing the differences in what was available in the stone yard. Everyone here tends to carry the same stuff, and I’m guessing it’s all pretty “local” in a sense because stone so heavy to ship. You don’t see much cool grey stand up (the big slabs) here, and when you do, it’s $$$, but you do see a lot of creamy warm limestone and sandstone from central Texas, Oklahoma, and Mexico. But that’s part of what gives gardens their sense of place. I see bluestone and think of upstate New York, just like white limestone reminds me of Austin.

    Anyway, I love how your backyard is coming together and have soooo much fireplace envy! Can’t wait to see it all planted up and with furniture!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 29, 2016 - 2:11 PM

      It’s really nice confirmation to hear your feedback, Lori! You’re right – the pebbles holding onto debris would have driven us nuts. That’s just another perk of our Neptune Chip! Also interesting to hear about the more regional selections. Makes perfect sense!ReplyCancel

      • Kathy - August 31, 2016 - 7:16 AM

        I was thinking the same thing as Lori and praying that you would not chose a larger stone or a white/cream-colored stone.

        We had white stones in our landscape when I was growing up and I can’t tell you how many hours I spent cleaning leaves/debris out of those beds as one of my chores. Hated it and swore I would never do that to my yard. Plus, I think lighter colored stones only look good for about 10 minutes, then they just look dirty.

        The smaller gravel looks so polished and “clean” LOL! Great job again!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - August 31, 2016 - 9:04 AM

          Thank goodness we didn’t go with the larger stone! PHEW. That sounds like a chore I would loathe, Kathy!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - August 29, 2016 - 7:47 PM

    I love the photo with the train going through the yard on the L tracks. So Chicago.

    Your backyard is looking great. I really like the grey with the dark stain and the red pavers. Can’t wait to see the end result.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 30, 2016 - 10:18 AM

      Chicago is so pretty even in the rain, right?! In that same photo, all of downtown was hidden behind those thick clouds.ReplyCancel


After we built our planter boxes, the rain came. It came, and it came, and it came, and it took over a week to receive two days of blue skies in a row. The first morning of the sunny-double-days, we got right to work on phase two of the planter boxes – built-in bench seating, insulating…
  • Michelle Schreib | Birds of Berwick - August 23, 2016 - 8:03 AM

    I’ll have to go back and see what you’re planning for the fireplace, but I actually love the character of yours! It’s so cute and looks amazing with the dark planters. Green plants will only enhance this whole area, so bravo!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 23, 2016 - 8:08 AM

      Thanks, Michelle! We’re not digging the faux burnt edge around the opening, and the color isn’t our favorite. Just gonna modernize it a bit with a new paint job and convert it to propane! We’ll share all the details once we tackle it.ReplyCancel

  • Steph M. - August 23, 2016 - 9:01 AM

    They look great! I love the warm wood. This is going to be a great spot for outdoor dinner parties!!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen - August 23, 2016 - 9:21 AM

    Wow!! The bench and planting boxes look amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke - August 23, 2016 - 10:25 AM

    It’s looking really great!

    I do have one question though, aren’t you concerned about having the fireplace so close to your fence and wood planters? I have an original Majestic Firehood with a list of setbacks based on the model and the Firehood requires 36″ clear on the sides and 19″ from the rear to any combustible walls. Other models have smaller clearances but some of those were gas burning not wood burning. Maybe yours doesn’t have as large of a clearance?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 23, 2016 - 10:36 AM

      Hi, Brooke! Some of our inspiration photos show this fireplace with even smaller clearances (and indoors even, which is this model’s original purpose), something we took into consideration, for sure! Another thing we’re doing is converting it over to propane, so it will no longer be wood burning.ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - August 23, 2016 - 10:58 AM

    This looks so slick. Seriously.ReplyCancel

  • Crystal - August 23, 2016 - 11:05 AM

    Are you going to be staining the back deck and stairs? Does it bug you that they are such a different color from the planters, being warm and bright, rather than a deep dark brown?ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci - August 23, 2016 - 3:33 PM

    I love that you went with the dark brown which adds a great dimension to the space. And how cute is CC the sun worshipper… <3ReplyCancel

  • Dakwerken - August 25, 2016 - 3:50 AM

    I wanted something like this for our backyard for a very long time. Thanks a lot for sharing the great idea of making use of lawns and backyards so effectively!ReplyCancel

  • Jodi - August 25, 2016 - 10:14 AM

    Looking great!!ReplyCancel

  • Lavues - August 28, 2016 - 5:46 AM

    Great effort for making the bench, it looks really nice!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - August 28, 2016 - 10:13 AM

    Is it overly dramatic to say that the stain you chose is breathtaking?? ;-) I absolutely love the way the boxes and bench turned out.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 28, 2016 - 2:07 PM

      We’ll take it, Liz! Haha, thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Justin - September 22, 2016 - 6:00 PM

    This was such a great idea and it looks so great wrapping around the patio like that. The bench seat was also a great idea to throw in, all-in-all, excellent job!ReplyCancel


After we mounted our laundry cabinetry, we waited weeks to finish trimming it out. Instead, we’d say, we have to go to the grocery store today! Or, let’s lay brick pavers instead! Or, want to map out our planter boxes? I think we were getting burned out on the laundry room. It’s been a long, winding, renovation road since last…
  • Carol - August 19, 2016 - 6:55 AM

    Love it! This is fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Schreib - August 19, 2016 - 7:21 AM

    Thanks for the discount; I just ordered a bunch of samples! I can’t wait to redo my kitchen!

    Love the Laundry room!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 19, 2016 - 7:38 AM

      Scott and I often say that we wish we would have known about The RTA Store (.com) for our own kitchen remodel! While we love our cabinets, we couldn’t ‘splurge’ for things like soft close hinges, whereas they’re a standard for most cabinet styles at RTA. Best of luck! I love that the samples are entire doors, so you really can assess color and style in your own home!ReplyCancel

  • Casey - August 19, 2016 - 9:27 AM

    These look awesome! I’ve never heard of the RTA store but I will definitely check them out – I’ve always been frustrated with the standard cabinet options at my local hardware store. Now I’m totally inspired to give my laundry room a much needed update :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - August 19, 2016 - 11:49 AM

    Love the room! So nice Libby has her own space!! Can you share a photo of the inside of her cabinet sometime?ReplyCancel

    • Antonella - August 20, 2016 - 9:26 AM

      Yes, please! And also how you organize the inside of the cabinets! I’m in an organizing funk and need all of the pros’inspiration I can get my hands on :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - August 19, 2016 - 12:22 PM

    They came out great! I love the simple crown you guys used on these and your kitchen cabinets.

    I discovered the RTAstore through your first post about them and have been dreaming of a far off kitchen renovation since. I’m torn between the Aspen White and Frosted White cabinets, so many decisions! I may just have to order sample doors to caress while I wait… Is that too weird?! Haha!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - August 19, 2016 - 12:25 PM

    I love everything about this room but…will you be staining the counter? Maybe a richer dark color or closer to your floors? It’s a beautiful wood but I’m hopeful to see some contrast there.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 19, 2016 - 12:29 PM

      The counter isn’t done yet! I mentioned in the post that it’s still a work in progress – all we’ve done is cut it down. We’re debating on a finish, but we sort of love the light look. It will get sealed, which will darken it a bit, but we’re still on the fence for the actual finish.ReplyCancel

      • Alex - August 23, 2016 - 10:13 AM

        More questions about the butcher block countertop – did you install yourselves? We are waiting to finish out our laundry room with the same countertop, but now sure how we will do it since our walls aren’t exactly straight. Did you order an already cut down piece somewhere? (I’m in Chicago too so curious where your source is!) I’m scared to just buy a piece and have to figure out how to cut it…ReplyCancel

        • Kim - August 23, 2016 - 10:38 AM

          Hi Alex! We got the butcher block at Menards, and we cut it down ourselves. We will definitely be sharing that whole process once we finish it with the sink and faucet holes AND plumb everything, BUT to get the exact measurements against our crooked walls (crooked walls forever!), we cut out a template using a piece of foam board and used that as a stencil for our butcher block. Then we used a circular saw to carefully cut the two ‘crooked’ sides. In our case, we kept the front and right edge (along the washer/dryer) square.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah H - August 19, 2016 - 7:56 PM

    How is Miss Libby doing without her partner in crime? It’s been fun to see her on the blog/instagram a bit lately. We have two cats and a dog and love reading along with your pets adventures. Also – the laundry room looks amazing!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 20, 2016 - 8:58 AM

      You’re so kind for asking. She’s doing pretty good – being her snuggly, sweet self! I always worry so much about the others when we lose a pet! We’re always watching her to make sure she’s happy and content.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - August 22, 2016 - 11:11 AM

    I just used a very similar wall color in my bathroom makeover and I am in LOVE with it. Your blog is fantastic! Thanks!ReplyCancel


A few months ago, Julia asked me to change the way we think about photographing our homes. Let me explain – have you ever noticed that bloggers are always (always!) chasing that daylight? But what if we started pulling out the camera in the evening, after the sun has gone down? By mid-afternoon, I’m already…
  • Stacy @ Blake Hill House - August 17, 2016 - 5:30 AM

    The evening is the second shift around here. My people are coming and going. I often run in the evening or go to the gym. (I’m an avid long distance runner.) It takes every ounce of my willpower to do so after a full day. I drop into bed at around ten. One of my favorite feelings is being in my bed wrapped in a down comforter. My bed is my nook. In addition to my favorite comforter, I make sure the bed has clean sheets and lots of pillows.

    On the turntable: Fleetwood Mac or The Who. My taste in music varies wildly, but for some reason, our turntable only plays classic rock and roll. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 17, 2016 - 8:13 PM

      Aw… sounds so NICE! I’d agree with you – nothing beats being wrapped in our cozy comforter, and we’re both out by 10, too!

      Also, excellent turntable selections. Rumors makes an almost weekly appearance around here!ReplyCancel

  • abby - August 17, 2016 - 9:31 AM

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE these nighttime photos! YES, while those blown-out, bright, all-white shots look great, it is so refreshing to see another “feel” to a photo. This looks COZY, and I want to be hanging out in that room right now. I love how CLJ does nighttime shots occasionally, so I am fully on this train and would love to see you occasionally post some more (even in the kitchen–I always love how our kitchen looks at night with soft lighting!).ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 17, 2016 - 7:37 PM

      Thanks, Abby! We love our kitchen at night too – we’ll have to shoot that room!ReplyCancel

  • Misty - August 17, 2016 - 5:36 PM

    I feel like the pups are aware that this whole photographing at night things is different… the look on both of their faces! lol
    love it though, so cozy and warm and adds a little something something that wasn’t there before. More intimate perhaps?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 17, 2016 - 7:38 PM

      Right?! They’re like, this is not the usual time mom takes our glamour shots…ReplyCancel

  • Gwen, The Makerista - August 18, 2016 - 10:24 AM

    I love the contrast in shape with your globe lights and it’s fun to see this space in a different light!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - August 18, 2016 - 10:41 AM

    That gif wins! I love your home at night. Chicago, we’re coming for you!ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci - August 18, 2016 - 11:10 AM

    I love this series. For many of us who work away from home all day, evening and night light are all we get (except for weekends). I do get “light and bright” house envy so this helps pull me back down to earth — you and the Marcums and Dana have evenings, too ;)ReplyCancel

  • Akiyo - August 18, 2016 - 12:39 PM

    Yay, another relevant post for us! :D We recently bought new light bulbs (went on the cheap side so they’re incandescent) with “white” light to replace a set of vanity lights in the bathroom. But they emit soooo much heat! We’re sweating as we brush our teeth. Haha! Do you have preferred lightbulbs you like using? I love how your lightbulbs aren’t yellowing the room.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 18, 2016 - 12:50 PM

      Even though LED bulbs are slightly more expensive than incandescents, they are 100% worth it! No heat, and the ‘soft white’ temperature of 2700 is so pretty. Old bulbs at that same color temperature used to be SO yellow. Bulbs have come a really long way! We’ve purchased from a few different brands of LEDs with great luck – Feit, Cree and Phillips. The only brand we haven’t loved is ‘EcoSmart,’ because they produce so much flickering if they’re set to dimmers and you want low light.ReplyCancel

      • Akiyo - August 19, 2016 - 11:14 AM

        Ooo, that makes total sense! We bought EcoSmart bulbs for one of our dimmer lights and it flickers like crazy. Thought it was all LEDs. Thank you so much for the reccs!!ReplyCancel


With the paver patio complete, we were excited to dive into phase two of our backyard project – planter boxes! We’ve been talking about these boxes for months – over dinner, in the car, while walking the pups (you name it!) – and it felt so good to start knocking them out. In our minds, we…
  • Katie Richards - August 11, 2016 - 7:40 AM

    Forgive me for asking but today this post came truncated into my RSS reader. I don’t believe your posts were before. Is this something you plan to do into the future?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 8:27 AM

      Hi Katie, we’re working on a few formatting changes for the blog to keep it loading faster since our posts tend to get very long. Nothing is set in stone just yet. Can you tell me what reader you use? I’m not seeing it truncated on my end, and I use Bloglovin’. Thanks!ReplyCancel

      • Jen - August 11, 2016 - 8:36 AM

        I use feedly and it came through truncated. Not a big deal for me to click through but thought it might be helpful to let you know.ReplyCancel

      • Jess - August 11, 2016 - 8:37 AM

        I use Feedly and it happened for me too. Not that it matters, but I REALLY prefer the blogs that aren’t truncated. :)ReplyCancel

        • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 8:52 AM

          Thanks, guys! The reason I wasn’t seeing it is because I use Bloglovin’ to read up on favorites, and they always require a click over… something I actually prefer, since I like to read posts directly on the site. I appreciate the feedback!ReplyCancel

          • Allison Van Beek - August 11, 2016 - 11:36 AM

            Please don’t truncate! Pleeeeeaaaaseeee!

          • bella - August 11, 2016 - 1:50 PM

            I use theoldreader.com and it was truncated for me, too. I usually unsubscribe from blogs that truncate. Even if I love the blog, I just can’t. ha.

          • Tiffany - August 13, 2016 - 12:22 AM

            I use bloglovin and it showed up truncated for me as well! Please don’t truncate! I’m super not a fan!

      • Katie - August 11, 2016 - 11:49 AM

        I am also using FeedlyReplyCancel

      • Rebecca - August 11, 2016 - 5:27 PM

        I’m also using Feedly and it is truncated. Please change it back!!ReplyCancel

      • sadie - August 11, 2016 - 6:30 PM

        I use Feedly and it is truncated. I unsubscribe from blogs who truncate even though I typically click over to the site and read the post there if I find it interesting – truncation keeps me from figuring out whether I want to read the post or not.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - August 11, 2016 - 7:54 AM

    I am really interested to read about the insulation process. This wouldn’t have occured to me until too late. We’ll be tackling our back yard renovation next spring and will be using many of your posts for guidance. Any chance you’ll be installing a rain barrel or two as well;) We have some drainage issues to tackle as well.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 8:25 AM

      It’s not something we thought to do either, but we met with a design consultant from a local nursery (which was surprisingly crazy affordable, by the way!), and she suggested it to keep perennials happy! We’ll share the details once we tackle that part!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - August 11, 2016 - 8:08 AM

    Hi- I am disappointed that this post came through truncated. I have been a long time reader and huge fan (of your style and as a rescue dog mom) and I save and pin a large number of your posts after reading them in my RSS feed. I have also purchased a number of items through links in your posts. Please don’t make the decision to optimize towards getting more clicks on your content at the risk of alienating people who already are part of your fan base.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 8:29 AM

      Hi Kelly, thanks for your feedback. We’re working on a few formatting changes for the blog to keep it loading faster since our posts tend to get very long. Can you tell me what RSS reader you use?

      Update: I’m seeing it in Feedly, is that right?ReplyCancel

      • Valerie - August 11, 2016 - 8:34 AM

        I use Feedly and they’re coming through truncated for me on there.ReplyCancel

      • Stephanie - August 11, 2016 - 8:56 AM

        I use Digg Reader and it’s showing up truncated as well. Like Kelly, I’m a longtime reader, and often purchase items using links in yours posts. I would prefer that you not truncate posts in RSS readers as it does effect my decision to continue reading your blog.ReplyCancel

      • Ginger - August 11, 2016 - 11:16 AM

        I’m seeing it truncated in The Old Reader as well. I know I’m so much more likely to read posts when I don’t have to click away, or even if it’s truncated, but with a photo. I need that visual to remind me what I’m following a blog for!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah Christensen - August 11, 2016 - 8:43 AM

    oh my gosh, guys, now you are making me rethink keeping the boring little flowerbed in front of our newly re-sided garage — the idea of two giant planters + a cute bench is blowing my little chicago brain! plus my raised beds are cedar and i loooove the weathered color they’ve taken on after this rainy sunny summer — thinking a version of these planters with that would look amazing :-oReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 8:54 AM

      Oooh, that WOULD look amazing! Perhaps you could give it a go in another area and see how you like it? They had cedar at Lowe’s in the same dimensions as the pressure treated we used, and it was stunning.ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - August 11, 2016 - 9:02 AM

    I use feedspot and had to click over which I hate! Please change it back! I love you guys but I just don’t have time to click over to every single blog I read!

    Also- planter boxes and fireplace are awesome. Can’t wait to see them filled with plants. It’s gonna be rad.ReplyCancel

  • Jane Schaefer - August 11, 2016 - 9:11 AM

    I have that same fireplace, can’t wait to see how you fit it in your plan.ReplyCancel

  • Emily R - August 11, 2016 - 9:37 AM

    Did you guys talk about why you went for planters rather than just planting in the ground? Planters looks great – but I’m always nervous about the cost of so much soil, keeping them watered and keeping them warm in the winter. All things that are eliminated if you plant directly in the soil. Just curious!


    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 10:04 AM

      Good question! We wanted them to be up and away from dogs/children, and we personally just love the look that warm wood planters bring to a space. We’ll be staining these a dark walnut color (which should add a lot of contrast back here), and our hope is that the more structured boxes will look really nice against wild, overflowing plants!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney @ Foxwood Forest - August 11, 2016 - 9:57 AM

    Oh my goodness, you guys! These are so great! We just finished building a new staircase ourselves, so we can relate to measuring, doing math, cutting precisely, and all those fun wood things. :) You must be so, so happy with this project!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 10:04 AM

      So. Much. MATH! But worth it. Can’t wait to finish them up soon!ReplyCancel

  • Haley - August 11, 2016 - 10:51 AM

    How will this work around the bottom of the planters? Will the dirt and stuff ooze out?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 11:07 AM

      Nope! These guys are heavy, and they sit nice and firm on the ground. We’ll also be filling the surrounding area with prettier gravel (we still need to choose it though!).ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - August 11, 2016 - 12:28 PM

    Ooo!!! We wanted to do a few raised planters, but this! This is so amazing! I can’t wait to see them finished. What a powerful statement they will make.ReplyCancel

  • angela - August 11, 2016 - 1:35 PM

    OMG!! This makes me want to get off my butt and finally, FINALLY start building those planter boxes my husband and I keep talking about for our yard! I’m thinking I’m going to use the same plans that you used (but with the sizes customized for my yard of course) and will go with a black stain. I’m super into black stain recently for some reason. What do you think? Too much?! The back of our fence is white vinyl lattice while the rest of the fence around the yard is cedar and scalloped.ReplyCancel

  • Mags - August 11, 2016 - 5:39 PM

    I loooove the planters! Are you going to fill with something light or inexpensive before putting the dirt in?

    I’m a loyal reader and loyal feedly user and I really wish I could have read this in the reader!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 5:43 PM

      No, I think it’s going to be all dirt so that our perennials can grow down and into the ground if their roots feel the need! We’ll share the details on the dirt once that happens, hopefully in the next week or two. :DReplyCancel

  • Heather - August 11, 2016 - 6:07 PM

    I agree with others on the truncated posts. I may love a blog but will stop reading if truncated!ReplyCancel

  • Chuck - August 11, 2016 - 9:04 PM

    These look great. How wet were the pressure treated boards? I don’t think they will take the stain well until they dry out some. Also, last year I had an issue with stain spontaneously combusting on a rag I used to wipe off the excess so be careful.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 10:37 PM

      Yikes!! What brand of stain did you use? Our boards are a little wet, and I know we should wait a little longer, but the heat has been helping them dry out much faster! I think we’re going to cross our fingers and hope for the best…ReplyCancel

  • Akiyo - August 12, 2016 - 11:17 AM

    So pretty! Can’t wait to see the next step! I wish we waited to build our planter box last month~! HahaReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 12, 2016 - 12:49 PM

      Nice! Did you guys DIY them!?ReplyCancel

      • Akiyo - August 18, 2016 - 12:33 PM

        We did! :) But ours look a little sad compared to yours. Haha! I can’t wait to see what you plant too! My thumbs are turning greener. :DReplyCancel

        • Kim - August 18, 2016 - 12:48 PM

          That’s so awesome!! Go, you!ReplyCancel

  • Marti | Project Palermo - August 12, 2016 - 12:09 PM

    This looks amazing! Awesome work, and super inspiring – I just stepped onto our back porch so I could scan the yard and think where I might be able to do something similar. Looking forward to hearing details about plants and stain!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle DuPuis - August 15, 2016 - 3:27 PM

    They look awesome. I’m excited to see what you plant!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 16, 2016 - 6:00 PM

      So are we, haha! We still don’t know.ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci - August 15, 2016 - 5:14 PM

    Doing a mini version of these would look dynamite on my condo patio. Maybe even staining them black like one of the other commenters suggested?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 16, 2016 - 5:59 PM

      You can’t go wrong with black stain!ReplyCancel

  • […] A Chicago DIY’ing duo with some serious skills. I mean can you even believe these amazing planters?! […]ReplyCancel