Backyard Paradise: Open Floor Plan for the Great Outdoors

Backyard Paradise: Open Floor Plan for the Great Outdoors

This week, we’re in Charlotte, North Carolina, to create a beautiful outdoor area for our Backyard Paradise contest winners.

Courtney Claugus was selected as the lucky winner of our Backyard Paradise contest, so we’re giving her and her husband Adam’s backyard a makeover with help from our friends at Quikrete and Pavestone.

Read on to learn about some of the projects we tackled. 

Pavestone Avant XL paver patios in greystone
These large, gray linear pavers complement the Claugus’ contemporary home. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Build Two Paver Patios

Two is better than one! And in this, case, two paver patios offer more space for outdoor living! 

We designate one patio for seating and another for dining — like an open floor plan for the great outdoors.  

Crews from Quikrete, Pavestone and a local construction company build the dual patio setup. The first patio extends from the existing concrete patio, and the second is on the other side of the house. 

Worker uses compacter to compact paver base for a patio
Paver base provides a solid foundation and also raises the pavers to be even with the concrete patio. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

They first lay out the footprint for the patios, then add four inches of paver base to establish the foundation.

Level running over paver sand
Leveling the paver sand ensures an even patio surface. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

After compacting the paver base, they add one inch of paver sand, then use a level to make the surface even.

Worker laying Pavestone Avant XL pavers
Workers use a string to ensure the lines stay even throughout the length of the patio. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

The patios are built with Pavestone’s Avant XL pavers. These large, 16-by-16-inch patio stones have the look of large format plank pavers. The false joints on the gray pavers create clean lines, so they go well with Adam and Courtney’s contemporary-style home. To add some line variety, the crew rotated each paver to create crisscrossed lines.

Paver patio border edging
Smaller pavers create a border around the large pavers. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Once the large pavers are laid, the crew marks a line where the border will begin and cut it with a concrete saw. Then, they lay the smaller border pavers in a soldier course pattern. 

Brush pushing sand over paver patio
Just like grout color matters when laying tile, paver sand color makes a difference on a patio. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

The last step is filling the joints. We use a granite screening to complement the pavers as well as the house’s color. for fine. 

Stepping patio stones next to a concrete slab and flower border
These matching pavers create stepping stones to unite the two patios. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

After the patios are complete, we place a few pavers between them to create stepping stones, so the two are united.

Pavestone Rumblestone outdoor fireplace
The outdoor fireplace becomes the perfect focal point for this seating area. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Build Outdoor Fireplace

Every seating area needs a focal point, so we build an outdoor fireplace.

We use Pavestone’s Rumblestone Outdoor Fireplace Kit in Greystone. Before we assemble the fireplace, we lay eight inches of paver base, compacting it in layers, so we have a sturdy foundation.  

Building this fireplace is simple because the kit includes a set of color-coded drawings that detail which blocks go where on each step.

Rumblestone fireplace blocks with adhseive
The fireplace is held together just by the weight of the stones and some construction adhesive. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

We don’t need any mortar to build this fireplace because the blocks are held in place using Quikrete Advanced Polymer Construction Adhesive.

Wood mantel on a Pavestone Rumblestone outdoor fireplace
Pavestone representative Chris Claire found this wood mantel at his mother’s home. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Once the fireplace is built, we add a mantel using a recycled piece of wood. It softens up the hard edges of the stone and warms up the space.

Shade sail over paver patio and outdoor dining table
We install the shade sail hooks on the house slightly higher than the ones on the post so we can match the slope of the home’s roof. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Install Shade Sail

The paver patio for dining offers little shade, so we install a shade sail to make the area more comfortable.

First, we dig holes for our two 6-by-6 posts that will support the shade sail. We set wood posts in the ground using Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete, then surround them with pavers to match the patio.

Brush staining cedar wood plank
This stain matches the existing outside columns. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

To match the posts to the house columns, we stain pieces of rough-sawn cedar and wrap them over the wood columns. Before we nail the wood over the posts, we add some spacers to keep the cedar planks from bowing. Wrapping these 6-by-6 posts not only makes them look larger, but it also hides the cracks that are inevitable with solid posts. 

Danny Lipford drills a wood beam for a shade sail
The top horizontal beam unites the two posts. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

To join the two columns, we build a horizontal box beam with longer pieces of 1-by-8-inch cedar on the ground before we lift it into place.

Next, we attach two hooks to the top of the posts for half of our shade sail, then attach another two to the side of the house for the other two corners of the shade sail.

Then, we install those hooks slightly higher to give the shade sail a slope and match the angle of the roof. 

Watch: Installing a Shade Sail 

Danny Lipford and Chelsea Lipford Wolf with Backyard Paradise winners Adam and Courtney Claugus and their dog Kendrick.
Danny Lipford and Chelsea Lipford Wolf with Backyard Paradise winners Adam and Courtney Claugus and their dog Kendrick. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Post-Production Thoughts

Courtney and Adam had a nice backyard, but they didn’t have much outdoor living space to enjoy it. With just a small covered concrete pad and a couple of chairs, their outdoor entertaining well was pretty limited.

Backyard with small concrete patio
Adam and Courtney had a big backyard but little room for entertaining. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Now they have not one but two great Pavestone patios that offer plenty of space for entertainment. One is just the right size for outdoor dining under the cover of the shade sail we added, and the other offers a massive space to relax with friends.

backyard with two paver patios and a shade sail
By adding two paver patios, we’ve more than doubled the outdoor entertaining space in this backyard. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

The Rumblestone fireplace adds a focal point with loads of character and is bound to be very popular on those chilly nights. Plus, the large format pavers complement the contemporary home’s color and character.

Special Thanks

Other Tips From This Episode

Products Featured in This Episode



Shade Sail


Other items

Further Reading

How to Use Bar Clamps to Steady Woodworking Projects

How to Use Bar Clamps to Steady Woodworking Projects

Bar clamps can act as a helping hand when you’re working solo on a wood project.

It’s not always possible to have a helper for every project. And for woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers, only having two hands to join two pieces of wood together can be frustrating.

If there’s nobody around to help you join two pieces of wood, there are a few alternative solutions to try. You could try holding both pieces with one hand and screwing them together with your free hand. However, this isn’t ideal.

Not only can you slip and injure your hand, but the awkward positioning can lead to a mistake, which in turn results in wasted materials, increased job time and even more frustration.

You also could use a shelf bracket, but not everyone has one of those to spare, especially if you aren’t building shelves.

This can be easily avoided with tools that you might already have lying around. To free up your hands and keep your project secure, use bar clamps!

Two bar clamps on top of a piece of wood
Bar clamps secure a board to a surface or another piece of wood. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

What Are Bar Clamps?

Bar clamps, also known as F-clamps, are common tools in the woodworking field. They’re mainly used to hold pieces of wood in place as wood glue dries. They also have practical uses in welding.

Bar clamps are composed of a long metal or plastic rod and two parallel bars attached to it, forming the shape of the letter “F”.

Using a bar clamp is simple. All you have to do is unfasten the screw or whatever device is used to move the parallel bars. Then, adjust the bars to the width you need to fit the piece of wood you’re working with, and fasten the clamp back down.

The long bar acts as a kickstand to hold up a piece of wood. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

How to Use Bar Clamps for a Helping Hand

This part is easy! Or, should I say, simple — like all my other Simple Solutions. All you need is two short bar clamps to use as outriggers to keep your piece of wood in place. Here’s how:

1. Fasten each clamp to the bottom of the piece of wood that you want to stand still, making sure that each bar is facing the opposite way.

2. Now, the piece of wood should be standing straight up on its own, balancing between the two clamps.

3. Line up the piece of wood you want to attach to your now free-standing board.

4. Use a drill and screw to attach the two pieces of wood together.

Further Reading

Creating a Grandmillenial-Style Bathroom

Creating a Grandmillenial-Style Bathroom

This week, we’re creating a grandmillenial-style bathroom by incorporating modern elements to Chelsea’s mid-century main bathroom.

Chelsea plans to do a primary bathroom addition in the future, so for now, we’re updating this bathroom to accommodate her and her husband, Brandon, while keeping in mind its future use for her daughters.

For this reason, we’re keeping the pink bathtub and tile but introducing some new elements that will tie in well to this grandmillenial-style bathroom.

Grandmillenial style floral wallpaper
This granny-chic wallpaper pattern is perfect for this grandmillenial style bathroom. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Hang Wallpaper

When Chelsea first moved into her home, she removed dated the wallpaper in the bathroom. And now, we’ve come full circle and are applying a new, modern-printed paper that will complement the bathroom’s retro elements and complete this bathroom’s modern grandmillenial design. 

We’re encasing this bathroom with literal wall-to-wall wallpaper, including the ceiling. This will give this future girl’s bathroom a jewelry-box feel. 

Danny Lipford applies drywall mud to patch holes from ceiling trim.
Patching the wall where the ceiling trim once was gives us an even surface for our wallpaper. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

First, we remove the ceiling trim so our wallpaper runs seamlessly onto the ceiling. To fill the spots behind the trim, we apply drywall mud with a putty knife to fill in the gaps left behind. 

Next, we clean the ceiling and walls with a mold killer so we have a fresh slate for the new wallpaper. 

Then, we hang the wallpaper. Here’s a step-by-step guide (link) on how to do it. 

Grandmillenial style bathroom with floral wallpaper and pink ceramic tub
Encasing the bathroom with wallpaper creat a jewelry box feel. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Outdated bathroom vanity next to pink tile and grey tile walls
This outdated vanity offers little storage space and stands out in a bad way. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Replace Vanity

This vanity isn’t original to the house, so it looks out of place in this bathroom. Plus, it’s a little too short and narrow. So we’re replacing it with a more functional, modern one that still works with our grandmillenial style.

To replace the vanity, we remove the toiletries stored inside and disconnect the sink plumbing. This old vanity wasn’t connected to the wall, so a firm tug is all that’s needed to detach it. 

A hole in ceramic wall tile.
The wall tile fused to the wall underneath, making it impossible to remove whole pieces. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Before we install the new vanity, we try to salvage some of the wall tiles behind it to use for replacement tiles on the wall behind the ceramic towel holder. Unfortunately, the tile is not coming off in one whole piece.

Titebond paiter's plus caulk filling in screw holes on ceramic tile.
Grey painter’s caulk camouflages the holes left behind from the grab bar. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

We’re disappointed we can’t remove the towel bar, but when in the end, it’s still functional. The metal grab bars, however, can be removed. We remove the screws and fill the holes with grey caulk that’s a near match to the tile color.  

Removing ceramic holders with a hammer and chisel
A chisel and hammer easily knock off these ceramic holders so we have a flush surface for our vanity mirror. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

We knock off the ceramic soap and toothbrush holders above the sink so the mirror can lay flush above the vanity. 

New vanity with brushed golf faucet in a grandmillenial style bathroom
The new vanity adds more counter space and storage. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Finally, we install a new vanity that’s taller and wider to provide more counter space and drawer storage. Here’s how we did it:

  • First, we apply some construction adhesive for extra security. 
  • Then we drill through the tile and drive screws into the studs. 
  • Next, we dry-fit the vanity top before we secure it with more construction adhesive.

Soft Spa by Fluidmaster bidet
The new bidet adds a luxury spa feature to the bathroom. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Install a Bidet

The toilet in the bathroom is the only thing that’s been updated this century, so we keep it. However, to add some extra pizzazz, we install a bidet.

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We chose theFluidmaster Soft Spa Electronic Bidet Toilet Seat. It features an integrated water heater, adjustable water pressure and wand positioning, as well as a heated seat and warm air-dryer. Plus, it has a remote, so you can face forward to use it, instead of reaching behind to make adjustments.

A T-valve connects to the existing water line that supplies the water to your bidet toilet seat. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

The bidet requires a water line, so we shut off the water at the toilet to install a T-valve so both the toilet and the seat can get water from the same source.

We also:

  • Installed a ceiling vent fan
  • Replaced the light fixture
  • Added an outlet for the bidet

Brandon Wolf and Chelsea Lipford Wolf with Danny Lipford.
Brandon Wolf and Chelsea Lipford Wolf with Danny Lipford. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Post-Production Thoughts

Chelsea and Brandon’s bathroom is 65 years old. At that age, there’s some baggage like the pink tub and the lack of ventilation.

The vanity was newer than that, but it really didn’t fit the style of the room and it lacked character.

But now, the room is overflowing with character and grandmillenial style. The wraparound wallpaper not only creates the jewelry box feel that Chelsea was after it also makes the pink tub look intentional.

The vent fan makes the space more functional, and the larger vanity makes it easier to use. Plus, its black finish complements the room style, and the new bidet toilet seat elevates the whole room to a spa-like experience.

Other Tips From This Episode 

Products Featured in This Episode

Further Reading

How to Hang Wallpaper

How to Hang Wallpaper

Want to incorporate a creative pattern to a room? Hang wallpaper!

Pick a bold pattern for an accent wall or encase a whole room for an almost instant transformation.

There are two types of wallpaper: Pre-pasted and unpasted. 

Pre-pasted wallpaper has adhesive applied to the back of it. To activate, simply wet the back and begin to apply the wallpaper to the wall once it’s sticky. 

Unpasted wallpaper requires you to add the adhesive to the back in order to paper to the wall (or in this case the wall) in order for the wallpaper to stick.

Here’s how to hang wallpaper. 

Tools for hanging wallpaper: Tape measure, ruler, wallpaper
You don’t need special tools to hang wallpaper. (3 Echoes Content Studio)


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Steps to Hang Wallpaper

Chelsea Lipford Wolf makes a plumb line on a wall using a level
The plumb line is where two sheets of wallpaper meet. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

1. Establish a Plumb Line

Before you begin hanging wallpaper you’ll want to establish a plumb line adjacent to a corner. This straight, vertical line marks where the ends of two pieces of wallpaper will meet. Mark this line in an inconspicuous spot so the transition from one sheet of paper to the next is not as noticeable.  

Scissors cutting through wallpaper
Cutting wallpaper is much like cutting gift wrap. You’ll need a sharp pair of scissors. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

2. Prep Wallpaper

Cut the paper itself an inch or so longer than the vertical dimension so it can be cut top and bottom. 

Tip: Roll the paper backward before you hang it so it lays more flat on the wall.

Roman wallpaper and border adhesive in a paint tray and a paint roller
A paint roller ensures an even coat of wallpaper adhesive. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

3. Apply Glue

Some wallpaper has self-adhesion and others require you to put the glue on the paper or wall while installing. This wallpaper specifies for the glue to be applied to the wall, rather than the paper, before hanging. 

Use a paint roller to roll the glue onto the wall, and apply the first sheet of wallpaper.

A smoother runs against wallpaper
A smoother removes air bubbles and keeps the wallpaper surface even. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

4. Remove Bubbles

To remove air bubbles while you’re hanging the wallpaper, use a smoothing tool. 

Matching a pattern on wallpaper
Pay close attention to the pattern so you’ll have a seamless transition from one sheet to the next. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

5. Match Pattern

Because there’s a pattern on this paper, we have to match up the pattern for each new piece. We line it up and mark the point where the top meets the ceiling so we can cut it to the proper length. 

Overlapping the seams of a patterned wallpaper
A slight overlap will accommodate any shrinkage after the glue dries. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

6. Overlap Seams

Overlap the seams by a little less than an eighth of an inch. This will eliminate any gaps if the wallpaper shrinks as the glue dries. 

Using a smoother and utility knife to trim wallpaper
A sharp utility knife creates a clean cut. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

7. Trim Excess Paper

To trim any excess wallpaper, use the smoothing tool as a straight edge along the top and bottom of each piece. This gives the paper a clean, sharp look to complete the installation.

Further Reading

Eliminate Paint Drip With This Lid Hack

Eliminate Paint Drip With This Lid Hack

Over the years, I’ve shared more than 500 Simple Solutions — many of them have to do with painting specifically painting neatly

And over time, many Today’s Homeowner fans have shared their own solutions on how to make painting easier.

This tip from John from Clancy, Montana, will help you paint neatly from a can using a paintbrush. 

The challenge when dipping a paintbrush in a can is how to keep the paint from dripping around the rim. Not only do you waste paint, but you also make a mess on the outside of the paint can and the surface underneath it. 

To prevent any paint from dripping down the side of the can, create a built-in paint scraper in the center of the can. Here’s how to do it:

Snippers cutting a paint can lid in half
A sharp pair of snips will easily cut through a paint can lid. (3 Echoes Content Studio)
  • Cut the lid in half using a pair of snips. 
Paint can with lid cut in half to prevent paint drip from a brush.
The half lid acts as a scraper, so the paint stays inside the can instead of dripping down the side. (3 Echoes Content Studio)
  • Tap the half lid onto the paint can to secure it. 

When you dip your paintbrush in there, you can take that excess paint and just strike it off against the edge of the half lid.

Now, you can very neatly apply the paint without any drips, runs or errors.

If you don’t use the whole can, you can preserve the leftover with a separate paint bucket and save the half lid for future painting projects.  

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Further Reading