Home Projects

Before and After: A $500 Refresh Takes This Deck from Dark to Boho Dreamy

published Oct 12, 2020
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Before: brown deck with no furniture
Credit: Jen Uthoff

Here’s proof that you can make a big difference with a pretty small budget, even when it comes to outdoor areas like patios and decks. When Jen Uthoff moved into her 1978 house, the 12-foot-square back deck was time-worn and dark, thanks to a on old tarp covering the pergola overhead. Plus, steps and railings were both wobbly and needed some rejuvenating. “It looks out over a nice view of the backyard, but it wasn’t an inviting area that we wanted to spend time in,” Jen says.

Jen and her husband, Andy, had known when they bought their house a few months ago that extensive renovations were in order. With a long list of projects to DIY, they also knew it wasn’t all going to happen overnight. So, Jen says, since summertime meant lots of hours outside, “it was clear that the best and easiest project to start with in the home was going to be the deck.”

Credit: Jen Uthoff

“It was important to me to get this project done quickly and within budget since we have so much remodeling ahead of us,” Jen adds. “I also wanted it properly covered so we wouldn’t have to worry about the furniture getting wet in the rain.”

Jen and Andy started by removing the tarp over the deck, which instantly let in all the sunshine they’d been missing. Andy then secured the shaky railings and stairs for safety, and pressure-washed the whole deck. “What a difference that alone can make,” Jen says.

For a more modern look, Jen sanded the deck and refinished it with a more modern whitewash (Sherwin-Williams’ Greek Villa). “It’s so bright and inviting now vs the dark, dreary feeling it had before,” Jen says.

Overhead, Andy added clear polycarbonate roofing panels, which let the sun in while keeping rain out. Andy also replaced an old rusted light fixture with a fresh caged sconce.

Credit: Jen Uthoff

Jen filled the deck with furniture they’d purchased before moving in, plus a swinging chair from Target. “It’s a huge hit!” she says. “It’s everyone’s favorite spot to sit.” Hanging plants and string lights infuse extra boho style.

For this project, excluding the previously purchased furniture, Jen and Andy were able to cap their spending at $500. It’s an impressively low number for such high-impact results. “It also doesn’t take a huge budget to refresh a space,” Jen says. “My mantra this year has been ‘do what you can with what you have.’

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