East Sacramento Home Renovation

Tudor Noir: Black-Forward Palette Turns a Classic on its Head

Kele Dobrinski

East Sacramento, CA

About the project

At a party for a mutual friend, I met Lauren who lives in East Sacramento, and as one does over cocktails (if you’re a designer at least), our conversation quickly turned to her backyard which, she explained, was in desperate need of a makeover. Although their home has a large backyard, her family never went back there to use it. I found this impossible, we live in Sacramento…where we have 300 days of sunshine!

A week later, she invited Kele and me to her house to check it out, and we immediately understood her conundrum. They had some serious drainage issues throughout their backyard, which created water pooling and a slippery walking hazard on their mossy, brick walkways. The whole thing need a rethink! In the back corner sat a dilapidated garage that was being used as a storage shed, which Lauren hoped could be turned into a home office-meets-pool cabana. Ultimately, the transformed cabana would sit adjacent to a brand new pool, we'd add a lounge area with a fireplace, and as well as a dedicated dining area for when their large family came to visit. We knew all of this was possible, it just took a lot of careful planning and creative thinking.

East Sacramento is a gorgeous and well established neighborhood. Its grandeur and maturity makes the neighborhood special, and as such, we wanted to ensure their new yard felt timeless and well-positioned within the rest of its surroundings. While it was a completely new build, we wanted their family and friends to feel like it’s been there forever so we built it to stand the test of time. The house is a Tudor so we carried that classic architecture and style through their backyard - using brick, white roses and wrought iron fencing. For an unexpected pop, we weaved in a black-forward palette to put a fresh spin on this Tudor for their young family. Welcome to Tudor Noir!

Here is a breakdown of the spaces we transformed:
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Pool and Pool House

  • The first thing we planned was where to put the pool, since we had to work around city setbacks. We wanted to maximize sun exposure, and we knew it needed to live adjacent to the existing garage space since that structure couldn't move. We originally had the opening of the pool facing the main house, but upon excavation, learned that a sewer line ran smack through their backyard. We moved everything over by a few feet and centered the opening of the pool on the new cabana’s accordion doors.
  • The garage was basically a blank canvas with a broken cement floor, plywood walls and no insulation. But at 200 square feet, it was just enough space to turn it into the perfect flex space. We added a small half bath at one end, created a sitting area (with a pull out bed for occasional guests) in the middle, and created a built-in desk for Lauren at the other end, so she had a more permanent and separate place to work.
  • We painted the exterior of the flex space a bold black and tied that palette in throughout the back half of the space. For the pool, we installed a classic black and white tile that Kele custom designed into each step. We added a long row of seating with crisp white loungers along the water's edge and bordered the entire fence line with greenery and potted plants for added privacy.

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Fireplace and Lounge Area

  • We separated the back half of the yard from the front (for both aesthetic and safety reasons), by having our welder make a substantial wrought iron fence to the pool area, splitting their yard in half. We flanked the gate with two brick pillars, then we bordered the fence line with loads of white carpet roses.
  • We built a permanent fireplace structure to serve as the focal point of the lounge area. We continued the white brick from the pillars over to the fireplace, for continuity, and built an end-to-end hearth for lots of seating.
  • We saved some of the original brick we had to tear out during our demo process, cleaned it and repurposed it. We used it as the edge detail of the fireplace, as well as the border for walkways and planter beds to retain that timeless feeling.

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Outdoor Dining Area

  • Originally we were debating using a decomposed granite as a flooring material to save on cost in the dining area. But after careful consideration, we agreed that a brick pad installed in a classic pattern felt more consistent with the Tudor concept.
  • We repurposed their large wooden table, and found black and white woven chairs to surround it with, creating seating up to ten for larger outdoor gatherings.
  • We extended the brick planter bed along the fence line, added lighting in the trees and had the welder create a custom garden trellis along the back section of their house to create ambiance for the space.

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