Home Improvements give me life. I know that may sound silly but it's true. Our house is a great house even though it really wasn't my ideal house, then why did we buy it you ask? It was the right price, right property size, a rambler with an open concept layout. Over the years I have learned to love this home of ours, but that is because I have been able to make improvements to it that are a better reflection of my design style (which has also changed considerably over the years).
Last year we made a ton of improvements to our house that have made this a pretty great house to own. One of those improvements happens to be in our backyard. Before I get to that lets take a trip down memory lane so that you can see what we started with:
If you are new around here we live on an acre with horses, goats and chickens. The previous owners were older and lived a more "easy maintenance" life than we do. So they had fenced off a small portion of the property to act as the backyard. It was fenced with a cedar fence, covered in bark and pavers, and planted with so many trees and shrubs it was like a forest (not a blade of grass to be seen). They had also newly painted the deck a lovely orange to compliment the peach trim on the house.
They did have a hot tub (that they took with them thankfully) and that is what that empty square is on the other side of the deck.
I have to admit that the yard really did look nice. It was super low maintenance and allowed us to put our focus elsewhere in the home at first. One thing we did have to do though was place rocks all along the bottom line of the fence so that Cooper wouldn't squeeze under. Then we cut down part of the fence along the backside so that we would be able to see our farm, once we fenced the entire property and brought my horses on site. It made all the difference being able to see out to the farm and is seriously still one of my most favorite views.
I hated the color of the deck, I am a purist when it comes to wood floors/decking and tend to gravitate towards stained wood rather than painted. So we let the paint peel off and weather over the years...
We even let the horses in to help a bit ;) We also got rid of most of the shrubs and trees to try and open up the space a bit and planted some grass...must be the equestian in me. We removed holly bushes, a barberry bush (that was conveniently planted right next to the gate...), several juniper bushes, a laurel bush (that was planted right in the middle of the yard), a blue spruce, and a pine tree to name a few.
In the photo above you can see how we shortened the fence and our view of our sweet little farm. We actually had to add some wire fencing on top because Sakari (our Husky) can clear the fence and we need to be able to contain her. And that deck continued to be an eyesore.
I hated that we were unable have easy access to the patio just to the right of the deck (where the hot tub used to be) so we decided to remove the railing from that side and that really made a huge difference. We were able to get a dining table for the patio and have more logical access to it. (you can see in the photo above that the railing is removed...and yes we decided to grill out burgers during a rainstorm...)
A couple of years ago, our neighbor fenced his front yard which also fenced off part of our side yard for us!! This was perfect!! So we decided to then fence off our side yard to our house so that we could actually utilize that part of our property, in doing this we were able to knock down the cedar fence and practically double the size of our back yard...all the praise hands!!
This was so awesome to be able to have more space in our backyard, not only for the dogs but also for Ellie too. We also painted our house at this time!! Goodbye to the peach trim and hello grey and white!! It still blows my mind the difference a good paint color can make for your home!! Unfortunately this new paint color made our deck even more of an eyesore (and now the neighbors had to look at it too). We had always discussed expanding the deck and now with the fence down and a larger yard we decided to go for it!! Additionally to that Thomas was adamant about building a covered deck. I was leary at first because I was afraid it would feel claustrophobic and decrease the amount of natural light we get in the house. But Thomas is one convincing fella and I agreed! So let the transformation begin!!
Thomas and his dad spent the summer of 2015 doubling the size of our deck. It is now 12x24 and I really am not sure how we ever were able to have it smaller. They also built the cover!! It was a labor of love and it was so worth it.
At this point I was undecided on the stain color so we painted the supports and the fascia boards the same white color as the trim of our house. We added on some bistro lights, brought our dining table on and called it a day...(for an entire year).
We had hopes that we would be able to salvage the old half of the deck but over the past year it became very apparent that we needed to just replace all the boards. I probably take the most pride in this part of the deck because I actually got in and helped Thomas with this part!!
It was also obvious that we needed to replace the boards on the step...and that the boards on the "new" deck got quite weathered in just one year, much more so than I had anticipated.
I went to the Home Depot and rented a floor sander and sanded the entire deck, when that wasn't able to get into all the nooks and crannies I had to get out our mouse and on my hands and knees and sand the heck out of the deck. This made a great improvement on the overall look of the deck but I needed to choose a stain color and paint up all the trim and rafters white. Originally I was thinking I wanted to go with a weathered grey color, but then seeing the color variation between the new and old deck boards I knew I had to go darker.
But before I could stain I really wanted to try and get most of the trim work done. So I painted the upper fascia boards again, touched up the support beams and painted the trim boards along the bottom white as well. It took some time deciding if I wanted to paint the lower fascia boards white or grey but I am so glad that I went with the white.
Then came the biggest decision. What color to stain. It was so hard because I loved how light and bright the raw wood was but knew that the look had to be cohesive. I did a lot of pinteresting, visits to various home improvement and paint stores and then just bit the bullet and went with a dark walnut colored stain. Thomas came out and helped me with the stain, I applied it and he rubbed it off. It took forever and I hope to never have to stain a deck ever again in my life.
It took us two days to stain the deck and thankfully the weather cooperated. After I got the whole deck stained (which was a messy process) I had to let it cure for a minimum of 24 hours. Keeping the dogs and kids off...was fun. Then I needed to seal the deck and I used a poly for that. I just did one coat and that needed at least another 24 hours to cure before any "heavy foot traffic" and then a full 48 hours before we put furniture on.
After we got the surface all stained and sealed I realized that I forgot to do anything about the edges!! so I had to sand, clean, stain and seal those as well!! Not to mention that staining is a messy process and I had to do a lot of touch up paint...never ending!!
Our next step was to paint, build and install the railing...probably my favorite part of the whole project. I painted each of the rungs with two coats of paint, along with the railing board.
While the railings and rungs were drying I got to painting all of the rafters, it took a couple of days but the end result was well worth it.
After we got all of the painting done we started to install the railings. And let me just add, I am so glad that we painted each piece individually before putting it all together because it was seriously so much easier! The measuring and spacing was little bit above my math skills but y'all we did this ourselves and we are so proud of it! The spacing actually turned out pretty good and I don't think that you can quite tell where it's a bit different.
Since we were working during the girls naps this part took us two days to get done but look at it!! It really completes the deck and just looks so freaking good!!
Once getting the railings up, it was then my job to go through the whole deck and do some touch up paint. I ended up painted an extra coat on most of the runs and on all the railings as well as on the support posts. I just can't get over how much better the deck looks!! Eek!!
Once we brought up the table and chairs, along with some metal settee's I felt like the window needed some love. Thankfully we kept all the cedar boards from when we took the fence down (my hoarder ways have a purpose) that I thought of a way to repurpose them! Shutters!!
So I got to work with measuring and cutting then sanding and cleaning. Finally I got a can of black paint and went to town. I painted two coats.
and then hung them up!! It's just these little touches that make such a big difference. Now I don't feel like the window is such an eyesore and it really gives the deck a more completed look!!
I feel like I was out there almost every day working on one thing or another for the completion of the deck over this summer but it was all worth it.
*although I have to admit we still aren't done!! eek, I know
stain color: Varathane Wood Stain in Dark Walnut
poly: Varathane Ultimate Spar Urethane Oil Based in Clear Satin
shutter color: Valspar National Trust Historic Colors in Lincoln Cottage Black 4009-2
trim color: Valspar National Trust Historic Colors in Homestead Resort Jefferson White 7006-1
house color: Valspar National Trust Historic Colors in Mark Twain House Ombra Gray 4004-2A