Before & After: Family-Friendly Deck

It started with a splinter. We'd long neglected the worn, ugly deck off our master bedroom. It contained two chaise lounges, a plant, and a sand table for our toddler, but was still bare and underutilized. Then I got a nasty splinter from it — my third in as many days — and I realized we couldn't ignore it any longer.

It wasn't a rash decision, so much as an acknowledgment that the deck needed repair. The floor needed much more than a sanding — it was warped upwards at the edges and we'd recently patched a leak into the guest room below. A packed summer calendar prompted us to call our contractor, who started the next week. After that, the stars seemed to align for our little project.

Our contractor, being awesome, found us a discounted price on the wood slats. This discount meant that we could also afford to cover the cinderblocks with streamlined slats. Once the wood was installed, the deck looked so much better that I didn't want to resort to our falling-apart chaise lounges. I visited Overstock.com for the first time and found a reasonably-priced couch set; it was as much as one couch at other stores. The floral pillows were on sale at Crate & Barrel. I spotted the blue kids' chairs and sun-powered lanterns one day at Target. I bought the chalkboard on Amazon while buying a birthday present. The only difficult part was finding an affordable, 8x10 outdoor rug. After looking for two weeks, I finally found a recycled plastic mat from B.B. Begonia for $99, which I wrote about here.

The deck became so nice that we started to spend hours out there, slowly adding plants, including herbs, tomatoes, and strawberries. Now we're out there all the time. It's taken us years and years to decorate the inside of our home, piece-by-slowly-collected piece. The upstairs deck was done in three weeks. While it's not the way I typically approach projects, it worked out well this time, and gave us a few months to enjoy it with our friends and family.

(Images: Kathleen Luttschyn)

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