Saturday, June 22, 2013

Backyard Remodel & Pool Net

We live in a house that was built in 1959 and a lot of our neighbors have lived in their houses since they were built.  We live in Scottsdale, Arizona but not the nice, northern part, we are in the southern part, almost in Tempe, a part that has been forgotten by the city but not by the residents.  We strive to keep our houses looking nice, even though there is so much being torn down and rebuilt around us, and we love when new businesses or people move in because we know that our property values will just keep going up, all because of the city we live in, no matter if we are south or not.

My husband always says that when he dies he will become part of this house, like the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean that become part of the ship, because he has worked so hard on it.  His blood, sweat, tears and plenty of cuss words have gone into this house and he just may be right about it being a part of him.  He works so hard to update everything and dealing with me and my crazy ideas - none of it would have been possible without him.

Four years ago we came home from our honeymoon in Hawaii (short video of our trip, here) and my husband started tearing apart our kitchen.  A couple of months later, with tears in my eyes, I watched Ian and my father-in-law put back up the drywall and enclose the new pipes, bigger window and countless other things we had to do, unknowingly to that damn kitchen.  We spent way over our budget, it took way longer than expected but it is done and looks fabulous, and we did it all ourselves with some help from electricians and our family.  Last year, my husband painted our house (with my father-in-law and mother-in-law's help) and three years ago he shoveled out layers of foam attic insulation from the 1970s and replaced it with polyester.  You can read about these renovations and see pictures (before and after) here and can also watch a short video montage of our kitchen remodel here.

When I bought our house in 2004 the backyard was full of dirt, the pool had a pump/heater that was ancient and there was a beautiful vine crawling up the back of the house (one of the reasons that I fell in love with this place).  Well, we planted grass that was cheap and became just prickly weeds, the pool pump was replaced and now Ian works on the pool himself (saving us $80 a month) and my 2nd favorite vine died one cold winter.  The backyard became a place we never really hung out in and when we had Lemon we decided we needed a change, we wanted to make it somewhere she could play and enjoy.  We recently did our front yard (once you paint your house you realize just how bad your yard looks), and told ourselves that when we had enough money saved we'd do the back too (see pics of the front, before and after, here.)  We got our taxes back (only $1000 extra for having a baby, whatevs!) and called our two favorite guys (who do landscaping on the side) and got to work planning what we wanted.

I knew that I wanted a place for a nice table with an umbrella and also to make the yard more open instead of just two separate yards on either side of the pool.  Our backyard is big but with the pool being in the middle it looks really small so I wanted it to look more spacious.  Ian wanted nice grass, sod this time, so that Lemon would have it to run around in.  After much debate between us (does everyone argue when it comes to remodeling?) and also with the landscapers - we got what we wanted.

Forgot to do a "before," of course but here is after they started to work (you get the idea).  There was grass but it was a jungle back there!

See my 1st favorite vine?  Yellow flowers all of it in the Spring!

Our patio was a MESS and that window was made bigger during our kitchen remodel and the guys messed it up so we have to frame it on the outside to make it look like it wasn't redone!

I wanted to repurpose the path that led to the street on the side of our house (we have a corner house) and make concrete blocks that looked like flagstone for a table.  At first I thought I wanted them square and modern looking but that looked weird so I had them break them up and then place them.  I love how it turned out!

 Pretty grass!

(Sprinkler system throughout, so nice when we've been watering things ourselves for almost 10 years!)

Found this beauty on Craigslist for $220 and it looks almost exactly like the one I wanted from Ikea but has more chairs (and I think is from Pottery Barn)!  Umbrella is from Lowe's and umbrella stand is from Kohl's (cheap!)

 Ikea table

I also wanted an awesome seating area that would be comfy and could fit a lot of people since we are having Lemon's birthday party in our backyard (in a couple of weeks!).  We can't afford a $1000 outside sectional so we had an idea to make pallet couches and a pallet table.  Ian found me some pallets and I started collecting pics as inspiration . . .

This is one from Ikea but it was still so expensive (and wasn't that comfy):

After pricing foam at JoAnn's we realized that even though our pallets were free, the foam/fabric/plywood/wheels/etc. were going to cost us about $500 so for that price we could just buy something new.  But, after talking with one of my besties, we realized that we had a friend in the upholstery business and so she ended up giving me a quote for wholesale foam and actually sewing the cushions for me using fabric I bought at JoAnn's.  I said yes and for $150 we have cushions for our "couches!"  I am either going to make a bunch of pillows for the backs or just find some at thrift stores (and wash them, of course) and hopefully the pallet couches will be ready in time for the party.  Ian is going to put wheels on the table and we were going to find a piece of glass/plexiglass for the top and that should be good to go too!  Stay tuned for a completed "backyard projects" post as we get closer and closer to Lemon's part on July 13th!

And since some have asked about our pool net, on Instragram, I thought I'd post info about it here too.  We got our pool net from Katchakid and it was $1400.  We decided on a pool net rather than a fence for two reasons:  We couldn't agree on where to put the fence (do we fence off just the patio, one side of the yard, what about the dogs) and also because we spent $4000 remodeling our yard and didn't want to break it up with an ugly fence.  When I bought the house it actually had a huge, black, iron fence around the pool and that was the first thing to come down, so I think I still had visions of that, even though I would have gotten a mesh fence this time around instead.  

The owner of Katchakid came over after I called, to give us a quote, and he was an elderly gentlemen from South Africa.  He stayed and talked to us for awhile and shared his story of how they started this business.  I guess they had a near drowning in his family, in South Africa, so they stretched a soccer net over their pool and then it just took off, they traveled around and sold nets out of their car, then came the US and now are in Arizona, California and Texas (I think).  They have really perfected this net and after seeing it installed and getting a tutorial on how to take it on and off, it is really an ingenious idea.  Their company is still a family owned company and we love to give our money to people we like so we decided to go with them.  It took about 2 weeks until they were able to come but then it was only about 2 hours and it was installed.  They gave us a rundown of how it worked, stayed with us until we were comfortable doing it ourselves, gave us a DVD just in case we forget, and then were off.  It is strange to look out and see a net over the pool but here in AZ it's a law that you have to have a barrier between your house and your pool and a net fits Scottsdale's requirements so we had to do it.  We have a doggy door and always worried Lemon would crawl out, this way she's safe.

They install tiny holes in the ground for you to "hook" your net too.  It then works as a pully system from the middle so it's taught and suspended over the pool.  It takes about 5-10 minutes to put on or take off and is too hard for a toddler/child to undo.  It comes with a PVC roller for you to store away with your net while the net is off the pool.  Two guys installed the net in under 2 hours and the net is made of a strong material that they have never had to replace in 10 years of being in Arizona.  They have also never had a drowning happen with a net, the same cannot be said about fences (84% of drownings in AZ happen even with pool fences).

(Oh and the sign? We got the letters from a remodeled Hometown Buffet and they are supposed to be flipped with lights inside and plexiglass on the front. There is also no L so we made one out of a T. I sprayed them and they are part of Lemon's birthday projects!)

Super uncomfy for babies to be on the net but that's the point.  If they make it on to the net, then hopefully they cry and you come out and get them.  At least they aren't in the pool!  (We put her on it just for a picture, we HAD to!)

Here are some pics, and video, that I took today so you can see how the grass has grown in, looks so good and is super soft to walk on!  I will most more "after" pics once we are ready for the party!


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  1. Such a great idea! Your backyard looks so cozy, I can't wait to see the couches all finished.
    I LOVE Arizona! I visited last January, and cannot wait to go back.

  2. I love it all! You guys did a fantastic job. We're still in planning and demolishing (and cleaning) phase, but I'm ready to have some projects finished. I think seeing your progress was my needed kick in the pants. Thanks! ;)

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  4. I love your backyard!
    We have a 10.5 month old and a huge pool. We're actually having a fence put up Friday. After reading your statistics I'm a bit worried.

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  7. really nice back yard, i am very impressed your work, i will be come back to your next post, Good luck!!!

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