Take a tour of our property and learn about
our plans for our outdoor living spaces
When we moved back to Pennsylvania from the Eastside (Seattle ‘burbs) several years ago, we had visions of a home with abundant Northeast character, a yard with space to play – but nothing too big. We used words like “adequate,” and “simple, but interesting.”
Well, we got interesting. But there’s nothing simple and it’s far more than adequate. I’ll walk you through the property. The parts I feel comfortable sharing with the Internet, anyway. Many of the photos are from early to mid-Spring – what it looked like when we toured and moved in.
This post kind of evolved into a narrative about our home search as well. It was a rough market, even a few years ago. Here’s the start to that series if you’re interested in seeing the houses we toured, missed out on, and some realtor drama.
I loved the house and the yard, and my husband loved the yard more than the house. Here’s the yard that helped push us to make an offer.
Side note: I’m getting more into instagram, with fun things like quizzes in stories relating to blog posts. I’d love for you to follow along! Find me @motifmotifhome.
Basic Details About our Property
I’ll be focusing mostly on the back outdoor areas of the house – you can see a shot of the front porch at the top of this post. I’m not comfortable sharing our front elevation. Maybe in time, but I’m pretty paranoid about stalkers, so we’ll see.
The lot is about 2 acres, and there are a series of outdoor “rooms” of sorts, divided by post and rail fencing and gates.
I have a quick video tour on IG:
The Garage Entry
We have our first proper laundry room, but no mudroom. A garage entry from the backyard provided the possibility of a drop zone to allow the prevention of dirt from entering the house.
Well, the charming old door stopped opening after the first year and that drop zone still hasn’t come to fruition. It’s time.
The Kitchen Patio & Stairs
The yard was terraced by the first homeowners, implying a local, family-owned landscaping company who just retired last year. They mowed the lawn up until the very end.
Here’s the view from the kitchen, with ufo-esque oversized “recessed” kitchen bulbs looming in the reflection (admittedly my fault, when I intro the kitchen another time I’ll explain). A small patio features un-level pebbled concrete slabs that chairs like to sink between bordered with Belgian blocks.
The Lower Level & Garden Beds
The Belgian blocks continue to the right and left garden beds. Speaking of, there are…a few garden beds. About 75 feet of the along the back edge of the house and behind the pool. Totally reasonable for a young family uncomfortable with hired help, no?
There is a bluestone patio that’s about 8×10′ in front of a large pachysandra bed (to the right of the stairs).
We do get a good variety of wildlife. Foxes, groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, deer.
Hanging a left off of the patio, daffodils bloom in our longest garden bed on the way to the pool. It turns into a milkweed forest by May. We added this fence for pool safety after our first year. A large portion of the yard surrounding the pool is also fenced in.
The previous owners did the same thing but took it down when their kids got older), but with the gate next to the garden bed. You can see the bluestone path running along the Belgian blocks to where the gate used to be.
The Middle Lawn
Before we head to the pool, if you turn right from here and take the stairs up to the azaleas, slightly sloped rectangular area formed by the fencing meeting the azaleas. This has evolved into a play area. Sorry I don’t have great before pics for this one!
The Azalea Walk
If you turn left and enter the gate behind the azaleas, there is a corridor of sorts that swoops down behind them down to the pool.
We’re planning to let these fill in more to further create the feel of a corridor. I see stone benches and potted planters here eventually. Perhaps a trellis over the gate.
The Upper Lawn
Continuing up to the top of the yard through the gate visible at the top of the middle level lawn, there’s a large, level space. This is what really clinched it for my husband. Plenty of space for drone flying, disc golf, stargazing, and whatever sports we could imagine playing.
Turn right and you see the square foot garden…
And a grove of trees is to the left.
Let’s head back down to the pool. Here’s the sad state it was in even this Spring before opening it up. Wind blown Christmas lights that my husband hung in a scalloped pattern last winter, providing evidence of another beleaguering COVID isolation winter.
You can see the play area in the background better in this shot.
Those folding plastic chairs are surprisingly comfortable, if a bit janky. My father’s favorites, and relics of my childhood. They’re 30 years old and exceedingly prone to mildew – and the only pool furniture we had until this year. Actually they also served as our only indoor furniture for a week before our belongings arrived from Seattle.
By the pool, they’ve served us well as a bare minimum, considering we rarely used them. With two small children who couldn’t swim, it was very hands on and we didn’t do a whole lot of sitting by the pool.
I’ve considered painting them, and am planning on keeping them for extra seating while entertaining.
Actually, it’s not entirely accurate that they were our only pool furniture available. The previous owners left behind a mesh seat dining set that’s in great shape and very comfortable that we kind of floated around the yard to decide how to best use the different patios and outdoor living spaces. It ended up as a dining set elsewhere. But I really don’t like the look of it, so we put the chairs away after our first summer here and only bring them out for entertaining.
In a moment of COVID distortion and longing to form some sort of relationship with our neighbors we invited a family over to swim the summer of 2020 – and stayed inside. Guess what furniture they had to sit on? Just the white plastic chairs – we had moved the other seating set out back of the kitchen by that point. I feel really bad thinking back about it. The chairs were clean, but still.
The azaleas live in a garden bed behind a cedar retaining wall that we divided with our pool safety fence. It was a tough call on where to place it, and I kind of wish I’d done it differently. We may move it down the line – but it’s a tricky division to plan and I’m not entirely sure how I’d place it.
Lovely tulips come up on either side of the azaleas each spring – including a fuchsia fringed tulip that has only bloomed once. That’s pictured toward the top of the post.
Pool capacity: 33,000 gallons
Pool size: ~18×45′, about 4-12′ deep
Pool liner: concrete / gunite
Waterline tile: cobalt ceramic mediterranean mosaic
The first homeowners put in the pool (we’re only the third family here in the 60+ years since it was built). We take care of it ourselves, with the exception of winterizing it – we like to have the pool company be responsible for that. I’ll have to do a pool care/time spent on maintaining post now that we’ve got a good handle on it. Sean does most of the maintenance now, though.
We inherited a worn down solar cover and reel (pictured three pics up) from the previous owners as well as the Rubbermaid pool toy storage container. The reel was in rough shape but functional, and the storage was so helpful but also tricky to use. It’s too tall to reach into except my husband, and the front doors don’t open unless you unhook a protrusion for a padlock from the lid, and then first open the door on the right, at which point the left door crashes open, conveniently laying its contents at your feet.
We’d like something that is easier for the kids and I to access…and to move that honking faded plastic box from view if possible.
Next up, here’s a view of the azaleas from the second floor, from my office. You can see there’s a pathway behind them with another gate. It swoops down behind the tulips to meet where I was standing in the shot above.
You can see where the fence divides the retaining wall – not ideal, but a huge relief for peace of mind when the kids are playing on the other side of the yard. I’d like to make that less of a visual disruption at some point and redo it.
Back down on the first floor, here’s the view out of our master bath water closet when the pool is open.
Here are a few shots of the pool when it’s open.
The caulk and plaster need to be re-done, and I’m really not a fan of the cobalt blue waterline tiles – it feels very mediterranean and out of place to me. But we’ll see how much replacing various components and labor cost before I make any statements about what we’re replacing.
Outside the bathroom door you step onto a little concrete step, then a grassy patch with a little sunken bluestone patio that has seen better days.
I’m having trouble finding any pictures of it – a testament to its lack of utility for us. I’d guess the patio was 5×7, max – and a major source of water pooling during rainstorms. You can barely see the corner of the patio above.
Here’s a peek in the background of this shot of a baby praying mantis, with what it looked like on a typical day. It was just a staging area for the pool storage bin and pool robot vacuum.
And here’s the view out from the sunroom. The tiny mud pit patio is right outside those deceivingly charming French doors. Ooh la la, a drainage project lies just beyond.
Pool inspiration and more backyard updates to come, but for today…
PS I have zero recollection of my playroom/sunroom in this furniture arrangement. I’ve tried about 20 different iterations, lucky you.