A VERY Exciting One Room Challenge Project Intro From The One And Only Shavonda Gardner

This week I was asked to be a part of #ShareTheMicNow campaign, Home Edition on Instagram. The answer was an overwhelming YES. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a day to amplify Black designer voices to expand their reach, share their message, and show off their talent with a takeover on Non-Black designer’s Instagram accounts. We need to keep pushing to make sure the momentum rises and campaigns like this are essential. So can you guess who is taking over my account??

Needless to say, I was pretty darn happy when I was matched with Shavonda Gardner. If you don’t know who she is then today is your lucky day. She is a designer, blogger, mother, wife, and all-around wonderful person which is evident in watching her Instastories. I love how she refers to her followers as friends and even more, I love her bold and beautiful designs. Shavonda has been in the process of making over her backyard for a while and chose to tackle her entertaining and lounge area for this season’s One Room Challenge. I wanted to share the very beginning of this project from her blog because she is about to REVEAL it and seeing all her hard work is insanely inspiring.

So head to my stories to catch Shavonda’s takeover, follow her if you aren’t already and enjoy this post she wrote about her backyard. ALSO, just to tease because it’s fun, you can expect and EHD x SGS collaboration coming this year and I CAN’T WAIT:) Shavonda take it away xx

Hi Everyone!

Happy Thursday friends and Happy One Room Challenge kick off week! I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this year ORC feels even more special and necessary than all the years past, not only for our homes but also for ourselves. The impact of the global pandemic has left so many feeling isolated and full of fear and anxiety. ORC has always been a powerful way to bring people together virtually all over the world through our collective love of design. It’s been a wonderful community building tool and right now I get the sense we would all love to feel as connected as possible during our distance from one another. What better way to do that than by cheering each other on as we tackle a project in our homes. I’m so excited to be joining One Room Challenge as a guest participant this round.

I’m back for my third One Room Challenge friends and this time I’m taking on a project I’ve been looking forward to tackling for FIVE years…our backyard! At the top of my home goals list this year was to get our outdoor spaces all the way together and the time has come to get it done. This project is a BIG task but one I’m more than excited to see through to the finish line. I figured participating in ORC would be a great way for me to be accountable to actually do it. There are several components to this makeover, but first I want to give to a little flashback and history of the evolution of our backyard over the years since we moved in. Be prepared for photo overload:

This is what things looked like when we first moved in:

Yikes, right! Ya’ll it was a whole mess.

I could see the potential in this space but it was going to need A LOT of work. Like…A WHOLE LOT. Over the next few years we slowly chipped away at just getting the area to the point where we had a fairly clean slate to work with. We started by removing misplaced trees, tore down the rickety dilapidated pergola, ripped out the death trap of a deck, replaced the fence and built entry gates, removed the shed, replaced exterior doors, rewired the garage, added electrical, and had the house painted.

That got us to the place we were at the beginning of this year. I mean it still looks all kinds of crazy, but it’s a vast improvement from where we started.

With a clean slate and a plan in place, we went into 2020 with a clear goal to get this whole situation in order and to transform this space into something beautiful, functional, and special for our family. I mentioned earlier the makeover has several major components, one of which being the addition and construction of a large L-shaped floating deck off the bedroom and back landing which will visually connect the house to the detached garage. This was a major project that we decided to hire out because of the technical aspects needed to build it properly for our property. Our house sits quite a bit higher than our garage, we have drainage issues that need to be addressed, and I wanted it built on two levels.

This was going to take quite a bit of time so we had the deck built in February/March so we would be ready to take on the rest of the project at the start of ORC this spring with that major part done. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen the project through to its completion in real time via my daily stories. I saved everything to a highlight in case you want to go back and see the whole process:) For the deck build we hired local landscape contractor Charles Shipman and his team at Shipshape Landscape. They were phenomenal and did an incredible job. This was not an easy project in the slightest and they really knocked it out of the park. It started with them having to dig a 3-4 foot deep trench 100 ft across the yard and adding a french drain near the house to address our issues with drainage and the garage flooding when it rains.

At this point, Naomi was sure I had completely lost my mind and she was pretty convinced she was out of her mind for letting me rope her into buying this fixer-upper of a house! The woman deserves a medal to be honest, lol!

After the drainage was dealt with they got the deck built.

There are literally no words to describe how in love with it we are. It’s very big at around 500 sqft and this extra space is a game-changer for our family AND our home. I’ll be writing an in-depth post all about the deck after ORC, but for now here are the main specifics: we used redwood for the material, I wanted two levels with the boards laid in different directions so it would create interest and serve to define spaces (more on that next week), none of this was sponsored and we saved for a long time to pay for it, we will be staining it in a few months after its had time to dry out a bit, did I mention I’m obsessed with it?!

And that brings us to where we are today. Next week I’ll be sharing the overall design plan, mood board, and to-do list as well as my inspiration for pulling it all together. We have so much work to do still to make this our dream outdoor space and I’m looking forward to tackling it over the next 7 weeks. I’m also really looking forward to following along with all the other guest participant projects and seeing what magic the featured designers make this season! Make sure you check out the other participants here. And if you have a space you’d like to tackle I encourage you to join as well. There’s still plenty of time and we have 2 extra weeks this time too!

Until next time friends…..

Em again. That deck is SO beautiful and if you’ve been following her stories you know how much more beautiful its become. I want to thank Shavonda for letting us republish this post and so graciously being my partner in the #ShareTheMicNow campaign. Can’t wait to do more together:)

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