Today, I want to share the DIY part of how we refreshed our top deck on a budget. We knew this was the first space we wanted to focus on because we wanted to complete it quickly so we could enjoy time outdoors with our kiddos right away. We didn’t want it to be a “dangerous DIY zone” for our kids, so we did a lot of work before we moved and the rest really quickly after we moved. The transformation is dramatic, but the steps, supplies and cost were pretty minimal—which I will share below!
When we were house shopping, porches were one of the MOST important things on “must have” list. Since our previous home did not have a porch or deck (and our first home before that had two), we were able to compare and we realized we really want to be PORCH PEOPLE. If you’ve followed me for a long time, you know that my husband and I are not super outdoorsy, and not into camping. That said, we realized that the outdoor spaces of our home are hugely important to us and could add a LOT to our quality of life and our children’s early experiences with nature.
First, let me show you what we started off with. Here’s a photo of how it looked when we first viewed the home. (You can see more before pics in my 2020 project post).
Our home is built on a hill, so the front of our home looks like one story and the back looks like three stories (there’s a large unfinished basement under our basement). So today I’m sharing the top deck, which connects to our kitchen and living room. As you can see in this photo, it backs up to a lot of mature trees, which is one of our favorite things about the home! It feels like we’re sitting in the forest on our own back porch.
Since we’ve called this our “forever home,” you might be wondering why we wanted to stay on a relatively small budget for this project. Valid question! The reason is that we don’t know how our plans to do an addition within the next 1-2 years will affect this deck (we haven’t got into the design process yet), but we know it is likely that these decks will be removed. So for the time being, we wanted to use and improve the existing deck, while only investing minimal money. This is very much a phase one project for us.
How much did it cost??
Here’s a cost breakdown for the upper deck:
–Stain (in the color Heather) $170
–Primer (for covering wood knots on new rails) $23
–Paint (untinted white for rails) $25
-Lumber for rails $550
In the words of Larry David … “pretty, pretty, pretty good.”
(I realize I’m leaving out a few things like painting supplies and nails, but this gives a good ballpark idea of the cost.)
Replacing the rails.
The first thing we decided to do was replace the rails. I know some of you really loved the diamond-shaped rails, but we didn’t. It also wasn’t safe for our family (priority number one!), since there were large gaps that our children and small dogs could fit through. So we took care of this first thing (before we moved in). Collin (aka “some guy named Collin”) removed the decorative railing and replaced it with 6-inch wide by 8 feet long boards. We wanted a very simple, modern look and since metal railing was out of budget, this was the best choice for us.
Painting and stain.
I knew I wanted to paint the rails white and do white accents. What can I say, I love white! We’re planning to paint our exterior brick white soon, so I want to tie it all together.
For the floor of the deck, I initially planned on just leaving it once we power washed it, but my friend talked me into staining it. Finding a stain was a WHOLE thing. We got a few samples that were VERY wrong. And we tried to get the same product my sister used (which turned out beautiful, you’ll see) and what we ended up with looked like white paint. It looked HORRIBLE. I went to bed super upset. My poor husband was so upset too. We felt we had ruined our deck. The next morning we decided to just do the same product (it’s a solid stain, so it basically looks like paint) in a darker white … either a beige or greige so it wouldn’t be SO bright. We picked Heather and it magically looked 10000000 times better than plain white. I was SO relieved!
A note about painting the brick.
The brick of our home was supposed to be painted this month, but since our painter is traveling from Kentucky (I’ll explain more on why we hired someone from out of state later), we all decided it was best to delay our project until things are safer. Safety first. I’m not sad about it—just excited for it to happen when it’s the right time. 🙂 We have SO many house projects to do right now (including still unpacking boxes) that the things that were delayed due to COVID stuff truly have not been a big deal.
There were six black lanterns that we wanted to replace and better match with the mid-century modern style we are going for. We chose white because it blends in. I didn’t want it to be a big statement. I chose these lanterns, and these.
Furniture and decor.
We have a full tour post coming up soon, so I won’t go into extreme detail here, but the furniture is mostly from Article. Since we have little kids, the way we plan to use our deck is very different day to day. Sometimes we bring a lot of toys out or their tricycles, sometimes we want to spread out a picnic blanket or break out our water table. For this reason, we didn’t want to overfill the space, so we added a seating area, a dining room table, a cart that can be used as a plant stand or a serving table for dinners and a few plants. In my old life, I would have filled the porch with 175 more plants, but the new Elsie is happy with about 15 plants. Done and done!
Before I go, I’ll show you before pics of the bottom deck, because I’d love to hear your suggestions!
(The box in that corner is not a hot tub—it’s just a storage box!)
We painted this deck and did the rails the same way as the top deck (as well as the stairs to match). So far, my big plan is to get a large swing (maybe a daybed swing) for the center between those two bars in this photo. Besides that, I thought it would be fun to add a set of chairs, a small bistro table and maybe a coffee table or side table beside the large swing. I would also like to add some hanging plants and some hanging twinkle lights. Any other ideas or suggestions?? I haven’t really started on this one yet, but I’ll be working on it quickly now that we’ve completed the top deck. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading! It’s so much fun sharing our journey with you! xx- Elsie