Before and After: An Overgrown Front Yard Gets a Chic “Mid-Century Desert” Makeover

published Jun 21, 2023
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Front exterior (curb appeal) of home before makeover: yard with dry brush, plants, sand colored brick walls, some cement

When it comes to curb appeal, there’s a bit of give and take involved. You want your home to be beautiful and welcoming, sure, but you probably also want a little privacy. Factoring both things into any upgrades you make can be tricky! But here’s a makeover that masterfully balances both, courtesy of DIYer and vintage decor lover Blayke Sykes.

The exterior of the 1971 home Blayke shares with her partner, Sam Rowland, was initially blocked by large bushes and overrun with weeds. “You couldn’t see the beauty of the house and it was hard to keep up with having to weed the flower bed,” Blayke says. “I liked the privacy that the bushes provided, but it felt closed-off and was aesthetically unappealing.”

The large shrubs also blocked any natural light from reaching the front window. “We never utilized this space because we didn’t have a place to sit and relax, but knew it had a lot of potential,” Blayke says.

Blayke, who describes her style as “mid-century desert,” started with the most pressing work: removing those oversized shrubs. “The removal of the plants and bushes was by far the hardest and most time-consuming part,” Blayke says. “I thought I could have it done within a few hours, but the bushes were so large and so deeply rooted that it took me a few days to remove them completely.”

But the hard work paid off (literally): Choosing to do it herself, rather than hiring a pro, saved the couple hundreds of dollars. After the bushes were out, Blayke pulled all the remaining weeds and leveled the dirt so that she and Sam could fill in the space with pea gravel.

Blayke decided on a breeze wall to help regain some of the privacy lost by tearing out the bushes without sacrificing any of the light gained in the process. Her terracotta breezeblocks are from Clay Imports. “I loved the floral/retro/MCM-inspired look of these specific blocks and knew instantly they would complement the space beautifully,” Blayke says. She designed a wall with a staggered pattern then brought in a pro — local business Alex Masonry — to build the wall and pour a small concrete patio, too.

“I love that it’s the first thing that people see when they come to our house,” Blayke says. “The breeze wall is definitely a statement piece.”

The last step was to add in plants and decor. “Because we live in Texas, we thought xeriscaping would be the most economically efficient and environmentally friendly,” Blayke says, so she skipped in-ground plants and stuck with rock for the beds. To bring in some green, she’s added in potted cactuses. As for decor, Blayke went with rattan chairs from Facebook Marketplace and a terracotta side table that complements the breeze wall.

The exterior of Blayke and Sam’s home now looks completely different from its dark and overgrown beginnings. “I love the privacy and ventilation the breeze wall provides. When we are sitting in our new space it’s enough privacy to feel comfortable but also allows enough natural light into the front window, which before was blocked by the bushes,” Blayke says.

Beyond that, she notes, it’s majorly increased her home’s curb appeal and has provided additional space for the couple to entertain. “It brings me joy every time I look at the new space,” Blayke says. “It turned out exactly how I envisioned it and I would do this again in a heartbeat!”