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An Intro to Our New Patio :)



Well, after a very, very long wait the patio area is FINISHED and despite some set backs, I literally could not be happier. Here’s the whole story….


When we bought the house the courtyard was a huge attraction for us. To have space right off the dining and living room that overlooked the backyard was a real fantasy for this lady. Reminder – I have two toddlers and was desperate for an outdoor space for them to go wild as well as have an space to overhaul, too. So this patio might not seem insanely special or anything, but to us it is everything. I look at it and I see casual Saturdays where we don’t leave the house, our kids running in and out all day, Brian and I reading the paper and drinking coffee, while they dig for bugs and push each other in the swing (HA) while humming Chopin. I can’t control those kids, but I sure can control how this space is designed.

First up – the inspiration.


I wanted it to be ‘English Grandma meets California mom.’ That style sure wasn’t in the style quiz diagnostic. I wanted it to be jaw-dropping with some tile, plants and then keep it simple and more affordable with the furniture. We wanted a dining area, a place for drinks/food and maybe a sitting area, too. Eventually we want to put in a custom outdoor kitchen, but I’m pretty sure the “patio investment fund” is empty for a while (see below for how much that tile + installation cost … EEK!)

First up is to straighten it out, and get rid of the cutouts that were there for trees that no longer exist.


As much as we loved the ivy growing all over the railing, we wanted to gain that square footage. We removed it and I was shocked at how much happier we were. It feels so much more open. we are going to plan some jasmine or another less thick vine (any suggestions?). I got three quotes on just that project which included – cutting the ironwork, replicated it to be straight, welding it back, filling in the concrete, removing the stumps and painting. One quote was $1200, one was $2500 and one was $800. I’ve hired the $800 guy a ton for my house projects and while sometimes it’s not the best quality, it has always been totally good enough. The same with this case – he did it in 2 days and it looked GREAT.

Then I started setting it up…


I was waiting for the tile, which typically has a 3 month lead time but it was stuck in customs FOR A MONTH. This has never happened before and I wouldn’t mention it except you’ll see below that we had to shoot it before the tile went in and then redo it afterwards. More on that later.

I shopped around for tile for a while, but every single day I came back to the pattern above (I believe Commune used it). It feels English Tudor-y to me, but modern.

It’s called the Burgos pattern and here is how it can look overhead:


But check this out, you can choose where every single color goes and it can actually also look like any of these based on how you arrange the colors and then how you lay the tiles:


Crazy, right? I loved the top design the best, and I always have. They sent through the color samples and then of course I had a HUGE decision on my hands.


Here is what you have to think about – anything super light would get crazy dirty, anything super dark could be really hot. I didn’t want to go with a bright color because I wanted it to be timeless and feel like it was original. That really narrowed it down. I loved a lot of the colors, but ultimately (as you have probably seen on Instagram) I chose Midnight and Hawk. Hawk is a lighter/cooler tone of the exterior color of the house and midnight navy is a darker tone of the trim color.  Navy and taupe certainly feel english tudor-y and classic to me.

Next the plan for how it would be installed –


We wanted to add a border to make sure that it felt more traditional. I know that cement tile is very trendy right now so I didn’t want it to feel too 2017, but more 1927. The border absolutely helps. Calculating all the square feet versus linear feet with bullnose, and risers is not my favorite job in the world (and why you hire a designer) so Mel and Ginny helped out with that. We got the quote and received a 30% discount but that beautiful stuff still added up.

Total Cost: $5353.65

8×8 patterned tile: $3,509.60

Edge/Bullnose Tile: $1,357.20

Tax/Warehouse Fee’s/Etc: $486.85

So without the designer discount that they offered it would be around $8K for the tile and shipping. Not nothing, but absolutely worth it if you want to invest aesthetically into your house. I definitely debated this as it’s the biggest purchase I have ever made, but here is what I told myself:

  1.  You can see this space from the kitchen, dining, and living room. It’s not just a contained space that you never go in, it’s probably the most used space and it has the most impact visually than anything else in our house. I had an opportunity do something stunning and while I was tempted to take the cheap way out, I was pushed by my team to go for it.
  2. We plan to be in this house til’ at least the kids are in junior high. That’s 10 years.
  3. I am a designer, and one whose work is seen all over the internet – it is OK, in fact it is important to splurge sometimes to make spaces stunning (I repeated this over and over).

So we ordered it and it was on its way for months… and months. Thus is life with anything custom, right? Meanwhile one of my favorite jobs for Target (as of this year) is to create content for their website in addition to the usual content I create. This means that almost 100% of it needs to be Target. I was psyched to deck out my patio (ha) in all Target but the only caveat is that we needed to have it up online by a certain time when people are shopping for outdoor furniture (NOW, basically). I had pushed off the shoot for WEEKS waiting for that tile, stuck in customs, so finally had to shoot it without. Obviously the ‘before’ floor wasn’t good enough so I hired my dude to paint it.


We went with the trim color (Downpipe by Farrow and Ball) and picked up epoxy/floor paint to make sure that it would hold up. Two hours and $120 later it looked ONE TRILLION TIMES BETTER. I can’t believe I lived with that previous floor for 4 months when it would have taken 2 hours and was so easy I could have even done it!


We shot it once for Target and made our deadline.  Phew. It looked pretty darn great (full reveal of that on Wednesday but here is a sneak peek).


Literally 2 days after the shoot I get a call from Granada that the tile was in. I booked our tiler (without getting quotes, whoops) and they started the following week.


I know that it doesn’t look like a big or difficult job, but it is and that tile was so expensive that I wasn’t going to allow any mistakes. They all needed to be straight, and so we laid it out before they adhered it to the ground (not the entire space,  just most of it). It took 5 days of 3 guys to get it done and sealed properly and man it looks GOOD. The bill for the install was $5400 which I honestly was not expecting and might negotiate. And then two days later I shot it AGAIN for, with a lot of different styling, but mostly target furniture.


Yes, a lot to tell you and I know you have a lot of questions, but you’ll have to stay tuned for the full reveal of those two different shoots.

All the ‘Get The Looks’ are coming next week but for those of you who want to some outdoor decorating this weekend, we rounded all my favorites up on a page HERE. Happy shopping and TGIF.

***Sneak Peek Photos by Tessa Neustadt

Fin Mark


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Stunning! The tile is gorgeous. I wish cement tiles would hold up in cold and (very) snowy climates!


Me too, says the girl from Minnesota.


Me three, says the girl from Canada. And we can’t get our flowers and foliage to look that lush either. 🙁


Same here!! 🙁
Maybe Emily can give us some cold weather ideas!! (hint hint)
Love this to pieces….even just when it was painted before the tile!!!!!!


Wow – the tile looks GREAT! Well worth the wait – although I would call your terrace “Morocco meets Miss Marple for afternoon tea”.



That space looks amazing!! Looking forward to seeing the other reveals. Great work!

By far the most inspiring thing I’ve seen, like ever!! I can’t wait to see the rest!

The tile is elegant beyond words. I love the color and pattern. The paint looked nice as well but the tile is incredible. Here’s to a summer of margaritas on the patio!


As someone who is from England, it’s been interesting to see what is considered a “Tudor” home in America. In America, it’s actually Tudor Revival or Tudor Style, and sometimes Stockbroker Tudor. In the 1970’s, it was Mock Tudor. I can see why Americans wanted to emulate the Tudor period of the 15th and 16th century, when the Tudor monarchs reigned. It’s stunning. The UK has a fantastic organisation called the National Trust, which has hundreds of historic properties, going back a few centuries. If you’re ever in the UK, there is no shortage of Tudor houses to visit for… Read more »


I never understood why it was a “Tudor” house, but now I get it. It’s an American interpretation. Never seen a Tudor house like that in England.

Lovely house either way, but interesting to know.


I consider this house more of a Spanish-style Tudor. It doesn’t look anything like the classic Tudors we have on the East Coast in the US. This tile is beautiful and fits the style of the house, but it doesn’t look “English” to me at all.


I agree, Spanish Style with a touch of Crafter. Perhaps one’s wish for a grander English style influences the naming of it?


I know right? I’ve said here before it doesn’t seem English or Tudor to me, more Spanish. I am enjoying the randomness of the things you’re doing that you’re calling “English” though 😉


OMG! It’s beautiful. I would live out there and can just imagine being in the house and seeing this through French doors. Staging with beautiful furniture would be the cats meow. You will never regret spending money when it is the touch that will make your heart skip a beat every time you look at it.


Why do you call this a courtyard? A courtyard has to be surrounded by walls on at least three sides and is typically at the front of the house. This is definitely just a patio or deck. Sounds so pretentious to call it a courtyard.


Perhaps Emily likes the sound of courtyard, given the style of her house? I’ll also add she’s identifying the space correctly according to’s definition of patio:
2. a courtyard, especially of a house, enclosed by low buildings or walls.
The space is surrounded on 4 sides; two are house and two are a railing, which someone could arguably say functions as a short wall. You can only reach it by a doorway out of the house or the entrance of the steps.
(I’m not throwing shade, just pointing out that it isn’t pretentious.)


It isn’t surrounded by WALLS. It has a metal fence around most of it.


Courtyard “an unroofed area that is completely or partially enclosed by walls or buildings”

As the property is on two sides, a garden wall on the other and a railing overlooking the garden on the forth – I’d say courtyard works!

Why is courtyard pretentious? Maybe it’s an American thing …? Not unusual to call a courtyard a courtyard in the UK? Semantics?


Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a courtyard as: “an open area surrounded completely or partly by a building or group of buildings”
So courtyard, yes…pretentious, no….absolutely beautiful, obviously!! Way to go Emily!!


It’s a beautiful space, whatever it is. (But Charlie still isn’t a “toddler.” Get a dictionary.)


Sorry, but no. Children ages 12-36 months are considered toddlers (as defined by parents, medical community, government, schools, etc.)


LOL Courtyard works due to the space being enclosed by walls or tall fence. Also trees add privacy therefore the space feels even more private and courtyard-like.
I don’t know about being pretentious. But I just don’t see the point of arguing about that because such comments say more about the person criticizing than the person who admires courtyards.


I think the issue is that Emily is a person which is looked to for correct terms as a well known designer; therefore, she really should use the correct terms for parts of buildings. I guess it’s the responsibility of being an ‘expert’ for others.
As far as being beautiful, it absolutely is!! 🙂


He’s older than 36 months, right?




wow. people are sooooo rude on the internets!


Why does it bother you so much that she calls her son a toddler (and not even in this post), so much so that you advice Emily to get a dictionary? When I read this my stomach turned.


Deck conjures up a wood deck area, so no. Patio, sure. But courtyard works. I read this with no sense of pretension whatsoever. I thnk mainly that might be coming from you. Xx


kindly, next time, keep your bad energy out of this site. We all come to enjoy it everyday and your comment was so, so out of place and rude. We are not saving lives here. We are enjoying looking at beautiful things because it makes us feel good and Emily provides us with said beautiful things everyday. Who cares what they are called in the dictionary…. Maybe you should take a look at yourself and figure out why “pretentious” bothers you so much. Just sayin’…

Oh man those tiles are incredible. That’s A LOT of money but I think it will be worth it. I mean, if you’re planning on seeing it every day for 10 years and it’s going to make you smile every day for 10 years, why not?


Absolutely beautiful Courtyard…..


Yes the COURTYARD is stunning.


The PATIO of the SPANISH STYLE, CRAFTER INFLUENCED house is indeed stunning!


Gorgeous. Clematis vines would be airy and lovely on that rail.


Definitely worth the money. That tile is absolutely fantastic. WOW. I also love the rattan pouf and the copper-look table!


Beautiful! Can you share your source for those amazing large planters? They are perfect for what I need and am having the hardest time finding them!


the tile is the perfect blue , like your eyes.



This is gorgeous! There were a lot of desicions that went into this that most would have shy’d away from. So bold, but still very soothing. I love the plants you chose and the brass accents. That tile was SO expensive, plus the labor. Holy craziness- I hope you are able to negotiate that install fee. Once it’s paid for, and you’ve had the summer out there the dollar signs wont sting as bad.

QUESTION- Is the tile going to get hot to the touch once the sun hits it??


Oh man- ignore all the typos. ????


…and why should the installers not get paid? I had more issue with Emily insinuating not paying her laborers a living wage than over “courtyard”


The glimpse of that ivy-colored building in the second photo… is that a detached garage? Please tell me it is. It looks beautiful!


Passion flower is such a beautiful vine. I know it veers away from the English theme but maybe it would still work? I think there is a bluish version. The bonus is that painted lady butterflies love passion flower. I’m sure whatever you pick will be beautiful considering the courtyard looks so pretty!

We have the three seat version of that Target couch and it is a dream come true. It makes for the best naps outside and I highly recommend it. Also, WOW, that tile looks fabulous and I can’t wait to see everything.


Stunning. This is my favorite room so far (although the kitchen is a close second). I’m really enjoying your modern interpretation of this Tudor. Again, stun-ning!

Jeanee @ Finely Crafted

The tile is wonderful! Very Old World but also very now. I think “timeless” is the word I’m looking for. 🙂

Did you think about stenciling your deck instead of the tiles? That was what I first thought it was, in fact: a painted stencil. What is the stenciling company who did all that gorgeous work on Peacock Pavilion in Marrakesh? That’s what I thought — their work. Yum.

We have Cuban tiles in my child’s changing room, had them put in eight years ago or so (?), and even though we put a special solution on them they still get slippery when wet. Take care, especially with running kiddos!


Ok- playing a bit of Devil’s advocate here, so bear with me. I’m not a big fan of the tile. BUT- I love how you showed how easy and affordable it is to paint the concrete for a very dramatic change on a tight budget. Totally one of those projects we all wished we’d done months before, right?! I could even see hand-painting a stencil-pattern to mimic tile- time-consuming, yes, but easy on the wallet. Would probably get scraped away in time but depending on how you do it, might develop a nice patina-ed look? Thanks for great inspiration as… Read more »


Just something to remember….painted concrete is very slippery when wet and the paint is likely to peel off over a few years. BUT, STAINED CONCRETE (applied just like paint) pretty much lasts forever and doesn’t have the slippery element.


Along these lines, I’ve read that laying tile over painted concrete can lead to problems in the future because the bond between the paint and concrete will fail. Maybe you can tell us what your tiler did to prep the surface before setting the tiles. I would love to add tiles or slate to my existing painted front patio. Thanks!

Beautiful!!! The tile and install may have been expensive BUT wow is it stunning!


Beautiful! Expensive, yes. But if you were to put a new deck of this size, or a new brick patio, or a new cement patio, it would be almost as expensive (if not more expensive in California). It’s worth it exactly for the same reasons as you’ve stated.


Oh my goodness, yes! My husband and I looked into installing (what we thought was) a simple paver patio at our old house in northern California. A rectangle with inexpensive pavers was easily $12k! Needless to say, we did not go through with it.


Oh I love it! A very lovely courtyard. 🙂

I’d avoid vines that “die” after they bloom. Jasmine is lovely but it’s only love during certain times of the year and then it’s just not very pretty to look at. Vines are so invasive, if you can find something that will not go crazy, that would be my recommendation.

Love this! What an awesome transformation!
x. kritsida


Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Can’t wait to see the full reveal!


I have an ethical question about how you approach job bids. I totally get that many people get multiple quotes on jobs, and that sometimes the extra price doesn’t lead to better quality, but I wonder, how often that decrease in price, that $800 vs. $1200 is the difference in someone’s take-home pay? A someone who probably has no health insurance, or retirement account, etc. but likely does have a family, kids. I’m not talking about the owner of the construction firm, I’m talking about the guys that do the job. Seems like the impetus is always to go for… Read more »


I’m curious about this, too. We recently had our foundation replaced (they just need to add the shear walls; the end is in sight) and got 3 quotes for the job: $50k, $65k, and $75k. We ended up going with the $50k guy because he was the cheapest, could start right away, and had just finished doing our friend’s foundation. I know we’re getting a slightly less engineered retrofit by going with the less expensive price, but I’m also wonder if these workers are getting paid lower wages and/or have fewer benefits.


Lovely patio! On my tablet, the tile looks turquoise rather than navy. It’s beautiful either way. I’m just wondering if the color is darker than it’s appearing to me.

that’s some pricey flooring but it does pack a punch! it really is beautiful.


Lovely! Get a wisteria- Every good English garden has one ????


Yes, I was going to advise wisteria as well – so appropriate and lovely. I can’t wait to see the full reveal – the tile is stunning.


Hi Emily, in case you haven’t visited Sierra Madre yet, it’s a totally cute town to spend the day in with your kiddos. They have a “wisteria festival.” You can see the vine in action and see if it works. I second the clematis idea earlier. I had some, but it didn’t last through the nor cal winter frost that comes and occasionally kills things for me. Clematis would do fine where you live. Potato vine would work. My absolute favorite is always climbing roses because I feel that once established they are hardy and very difficult to kill. This… Read more »


Wisteria is gorgeous and very English, but you have to make sure you get American wisteria because the traditional wisteria (Japanese, I think) is highly invasive in many places in the US.

plus it would bend that thin railing once the vines get thick!


Wisteria is VERY MESSY with petals and then leaves falling at separate times. We have one covering a gazebo in our back yard and while it smells nice for a SHOT TIME, it is very messy and attracts all kinds of insect pests. They are also very slow growing.


Gah! I love it. The tile and color palette are perfection. I think it’s both traditional and honors the legacy of the house while also being fresh and modern. Obviously with installation – yikes! $$$ But such a worthy investment.


So, so pretty. But, I don’t feel it’s ethical to try to negotiate after the job is finished. Especially after pointing out how much work it took, how quickly they accomplished the job and how well it turned out. Just my two cents.

Lynn W

Wow!! What a stunner……would love to hang and have drinks out there. 🙂
How about Arabian Jasmine for your vine. It’s a lovely perennial and blooms 2-3 seasons. It’s evergreen and smells heavenly!!!!
Check it out online while your sipping something special on the patio with your honey.

Mary Ann

Gorgeous floor! Wow. I love your make-believe scenario. It would be mine too!! I suggest planting a few clematis. The vines are not intrusive and the flowers and seed pods are so nice. I would advise against wisteria, though. They are truly stunning but would probably overtake your railing and possibly destroy it. The are very, very strong climbers – and heavy too. I look forward to more pics of relaxing family time out there!

Cindy in Oklahoma

What a stunning outdoor space – how’s that for avoiding controversy???

Anyway… I’ll add a vote of confidence to the clematis suggestion. We had a couple of vines with a megenta bloom at our previous home and they never disappointed. Just be sure to mulch well or plant something nearby to shade the base if it’s going to be in the sun most of the day. The main part of the vine loves the sun but the roots need cool moisture. You will love it.

Cindy in Oklahoma

oops. That should be magenta!


Absolutely stunning- 100% worth the splurge!
As for the time install: holy crap.
My dad and I installed encaustic tile in my bathroom when I was 8 months pregnant and it was definitely a major undertaking. If you decide to negotiate the install charges just say “I know it couldn’t have been THAT difficult- I know a pregnant lady who did it!
Here’s my bath:


Oh my gosh that is stunning! My mouth was hanging open. (I can’t keep anything secret…) My mind is whirling about copying you-only in paint as my budget is smaller. Thank you, thank you for the beautiful inspiration!

Gorgeous. We are getting underway to reno our kitchen in July, and will tackle the patio/yard next year. We have weird pebbled concrete in this odd kidney shape (which is impossible to make a sectional sofa look right on) and plan to rip it out and do some sort of pavers. But (as my husband is for the ‘cheap way is best’ especially since we kind of went over the budget for the kitchen….no sense of style costs money!) maybe concrete that was painted would work. Cheaper, and could still look great. Especially since this is in Seattle where moss… Read more »


Hate to say it, but I think you are getting reamed because you are a designer. That is a tiny area!



Love the patio! Totally off the subject (sorry!)), but I’ve been looking forward to finding out which headboard you chose for your master bedroom after you surveyed your readers. Did I miss that post? Now back to regular programming– I’d go with the clematis!

Liz M

I love how this turned out! The tile is amazing. Seriously who cares what it cost – you are a designer and we expect to see amazing results that we can use for inspiration in our own homes. Yes it was expensive but people seriously need to calm down regarding the price! Sheesh! On another note – I noticed that the Target Threahold metal Windsor dining chairs did bot make it into the patio. I saw them on your stories a while back and immediately purchased them. And then it rained. And the chairs leaked rust ALL OVER my patio.… Read more »


Looks great, Emily! Can you tell us where that rattan ottoman is from? Is it an outdoor wicker? I can’t find an outdoor piece like this anywhere!

How are you keeping the outdoor furniture clean? We are working on our own front and back yards and patios over here in Frog Town and as much as I want snuggly furniture, I don’t know how to keep the LA air dust off of everything!


Emily it’s beautiful, whether you want it to be a courtyard or patio. As to Charlie he could still be a toddler till he’s 4, it depends on who your referencing and how you feel about it.


In Italy the installing price of a floor (parquet flooring, special tiles ecc) is usually the same that the cost of the material. So, in my experience, the price you got for labor is right.

Is – in the US – usually a lot cheaper?


Do you have any details about your outdoor potted plants or landscaping?! I’d love to hear what you would recommend!


The space is gorgeous!! Do you have a source for the black chairs around the table??

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