Sunday, September 16, 2012


The house when we bought it. Wooden stockade fence, overgrown pathways.

2 months after purchase we opened up the "compound" by added a wrought iron fence.

Old pavers will form the new pathway from the gate to the street.

Clearly the eaves need cleaning...

I wasn't sure whether to jump for joy or weep yesterday after my jungle of a garden was removed to make way for the pool. I sure felt like we'd clear cut a forest and immediately missed the dense, overgrown Florida garden, but I was also excited to see how large and bright the yard actually is.

Our agent originally bypassed showing us this home because a pool was in our search criteria, and  there is no backyard at this house. When this house was built, the bottom level was the garage and the top an apartment. The "tower", as it is known, is the front right of house and contained the staircase to the apartment. The fireplace is upstairs, in what is now the master bedroom. Behind the house is a parking pad/courtyard that backs onto the alleyway for access.

I fell in love with the inside of this Monterey style house, and was convinced that the yard could be used in an unconventional manner to house a swimming pool in the South facing front yard. Local building codes were on my side and we got approval to do so. There were a few issues with the yard itself. First was the dark and overgrown jungle then the wonky, sunken patios made from antique brick and then there was the wooden stockade fence that made hid the house and made the yard dark and creepy. Sitting in the yard was like being in a compound with no view outside. 

The first thing we did was removed the front fence and replace it with a wrought iron one to let in the light and give us a view. This visually expanded our property. We have another 21 feet of yard between the fence and the sidewalk. In the next few weeks, the pool will be installed and the old brick will be used to create a meandering front path that is offset from the gate. This means we can establish privacy for the pool with creative plantings, as well as make use of our "front" garden on the street side of the fence. Our yard service removed all of the vegetation on one side replanting one foxtail palm on the front (front) yard and, then dug out 2 enormous, over 20 foot palms and replanted  these also on the left side. Once the pool is complete, we will plant a row of bamboo between us and the neighbor, as well as replant the front side of the fence. If my design plan works properly, we will still be able to somewhat see out to the street, and maximize sunshine, but from the street side, you won't be able to see the pool because of the plantings. I am hoping this will give the house more curb appeal and make it look much tidier.

The neighbors are already joking that they will be using the pool while we are gone. I cautioned them to hang their towels on over the security camera first.


  1. Amazing changes . . . the rod iron fence made a tremendous frontal improvement. I can't wait to see the pool area . . . will someone take pictures for you when you aren't there? Completion scheduled for . . . ? Charming right tower adds character and interest . . .

  2. This is going to be such fun ! I love Other People's renovations :D
    Looks great already !

  3. It already looks amazing - so nice to see the beauty of the house. Can't wait to see the finished product!

  4. The work you have done makes such a big difference. Is the 'towel over the security camera' a skinny dipping issue? I know I would not like to see my naked neighbours on video!

  5. You've worked hard and it looks so much better already. I love plants but what the previous owners left was nothing short of a rain forest. Can't wait to see the work as it progresses.

  6. Oh Chania, what a lot of work, but certainly worth it! The best thing about Florida plants, etc. is that they grow quickly and everything will fill in nicely. We rented a house in Ana Maria Island that had a front yard pool. At first I thought, "What?", but then came to really like the idea. As yours will be, it was well screened from the street and was much more accessible from the house. How wonderful to see the whole of the outside of your home. Tell your neighbors to just wait until the electricty is down and then they can go for a quick dip to cool off with no worries about that camera. Ann

  7. wow, that really was quite the jungle! I love that you can now see how pretty the house is. I'm sure you'll have it looking even more fab once everything is done and plantings are there. So worth it for a pool! :)

  8. I just love your little house. At first I gasped to see the jungle going, but your plans sound delightful. I can't wait to see.


I love to read each and every comment and are thrilled that you take the time to send one. Thank you so much. Chania