After moving back to her home state of California a few years ago, the jewelry designer Jaclyn Mayer decided to renovate part of her Oakland home, basically becoming her own general contractor. And that’s when things started getting really complicated. “I found out in the middle of the project that I was pregnant with my second child and realized that if anything was getting updated, it was now or never,” she says. “So we ended up gut-renovating the whole thing.” The final—and most important—piece of the puzzle was creating a backyard refuge with enough space for entertaining adults and little ones alike. Here’s how Jaclyn made what’s on the outside count as much as what’s on the inside.
“We started with a completely blank slate, but I had a very clear vision. I knew I wanted a big deck off the back of the house with benches that went around the sides for seating and planters. That was our jumping-off point. And we needed a lawn for our kids to run around. Next to that, we built another little patio with some paving stones to hold our BBQ, and we built a few raised beds around that for vegetables. That was something else we wanted to do for our kids to see how food grows and to be able to pick things and then bring them inside and cook them together.”