A Modern Backyard Update and a Missing Pergola

The centerpiece for this modern backyard transformation on the Southside in Virginia Beach was a pergola. Our clients wanted a space where they could get out and enjoy their yard all year long, so we did some research and decided to try a new brand of pergola that was beautiful, sleek, modern… and also MISSING for several months!

We started this project in October of 2022. When I first walked into this backyard it was a muddy mess – more like a swamp than a yard. The homeowners literally just had planks of wood leading from their driveway to their back deck. If it had rained recently, the planks didn’t even keep their feet dry because there was water squishing up through the cracks, and the deck had several holes in it and it was falling apart. We were clearly well overdue for a new space!

It was finally time to help them figure out what this new space should be and what it should look like. There were a few practical elements that we needed to address like added privacy and better drainage, but they also knew how they wanted the space to feel. They wanted it to be clean and modern, so I helped them design a space with lots of sleek lines and a more angular feel. 

One important feature that these homeowners were missing in their backyard was privacy. They wanted a space where they could relax without being in full view of their neighbors, and we also wanted to add some coziness to the space. To fix the problem we installed vertical wood fencing from Hercules Fence . Not only did this give the added privacy and coziness that our clients needed, but we also used the fencing to reduce some visual clutter and hide things like the HVAC unit and the trash cans. We created a couple extra gates so they could have easy access without having these eyesores every time they wanted to relax in their backyard!

Another practical issue that we needed to address was the drainage system. I mentioned before that this yard was a total swamp, as rain came down and water ran off the roof of the house, it was all sheeting off into the yard and creating a total mud pit. We installed several downspouts along the side of the house, and those downspouts connect to a pipe that goes under the grade. 

So now instead of rain coming off of the roof and sheeting down onto the patio, that water is being pushed out beneath the patio, through the pipes, and out away from the yard. It’s really important to take the time to consider the effects of water and rain before going into a project like this, because you don’t want excess water to ruin your new backyard!​

Another way to reduce unwanted water is to use permeable pavers, which allow the water to drain through the joints and down into the base rather than puddling on top when it rains. We used the Techo Bloc Blu60 Smooth pavers in shale grey for the majority of the patio and the new walkway, and we built a new landing and stairs out of the Techo Bloc Mini-Creta to replace that old deck. 

The homeowners also wanted a fire pit where they could hang out, so I decided to bring some visual interest and movement by switching up the pattern and color of the pavers. You’ll notice that in the rest of the patio there are a variety of light and dark grey tones, and the pavers are laid out in a modular pattern with varying sizes and directions. ​

For the fire pit we opted for larger pavers laid out in a linear pattern in a much lighter solid grey color. We installed a dark border to separate the two spaces, which really allowed us to create movement across the patio. We were also able to incorporate more of those clean lines that our clients wanted to see!

Now back to that missing pergola…

The pinnacle of this whole space was the pergola that was going to be built over a large portion of the patio. I designed the entire space around this particular pergola, and as I mentioned, months went by and we had no idea where it was! We had never used this company before, but we gave ourselves plenty of time…or so we thought. 

*Spoiler alert* –  the missing pergola did eventually arrive, and it’s actually pretty sweet! As many issues as we had getting this thing (which we’ll talk about below), it definitely brought the modern vibe that we were going for into this backyard. Inside of a static pergola there is a handle that controls the louvers on top, allowing you to adjust for how much shade you want, or blocking out the rain so the space can be enjoyed regardless of the weather! Its sleek lines and all-seasons roof were exactly what our homeowners wanted, but it took way too long to finally get it installed…

When we placed our order they told us that it would arrive within six to nine weeks, which is a great timeframe! I typically like to complete our projects from start to finish within 10 weeks, and when we ordered the pergola, construction hadn’t actually begun, so we’d be fine, right? WRONG.

After the initial 6-9 weeks we still didn’t have our pergola, and when we reached out they told us it would actually be about 16 weeks. Not only that, but the company reset the timeline, which meant waiting another 16 weeks. And then…nothing. We couldn’t get in touch with them through email or phone calls, and when we did finally get through we were passed around to about six different customer service representatives.

I don’t want to talk badly about another company, but the whole process not only caused a lot of frustration, it extended the project for months! We completed most of our construction and installation right before Christmas, and then we had to wait until sometime in late March/early April to finally get this pergola delivered and installed. 

At the end of the day, all that really matters is that our clients love their new outdoor space – and they do! But we also want to acknowledge that in the construction world, things like this will happen. Plans won’t go quite like we expect, things will get in the way, and a 10 week project unfortunately can turn into a 6 month project. BUT if there is a happy ending for our clients, then all of the bumps along the way are worth it!

Check out our YouTube video for a closer look at this modern backyard transformation, and as always, get outside my friends!