See How Pops of Color Instantly Transform a “Lifeless” Gray Deck

published Jun 20, 2024
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When summer finally arrives, there’s no better place to entertain your guests than a deck or balcony. But if you’re renting, it can be hard to customize the space to feel inviting and like it’s actually yours.

Katie Falbo (@highboyla) faced this challenge after her landlord replaced her rotted deck floor with new gray decking that blended in with the exterior stucco walls. “It felt dull and lifeless; however, it was better than having an unsafe deck!” she says. 

Credit: Katie Falbo
Credit: Katie Falbo

Make a gray blank slate work for the space.

“We weren’t happy with the gray-washing, so we made it our mission to bring more color and warmth to the space,” Falbo says. By adding more bright and cheery colors and elements to the deck, Falbo was able to drown out the gray and create a space made for unwinding and entertaining.

Although the gray decking didn’t wow Falbo, she decided to paint the new fencing a matching gray: Dolphin Fin by Behr. This provided an even, blank slate to build on. And the gray base actually makes all the added colors really pop and become the star of the show.

Credit: Katie Falbo
Credit: Katie Falbo

Add shade and pops of color.

Because the deck area gets full sun, creating shade was a must so Falbo and her partner Cody could actually enjoy being out there. She sourced a sunshade from Amazon and got her landlord to help her hang it.

“Our landlord drilled hooks into the exterior walls, and my partner hung the shade taut with bungees,” Falbo says. “It really helps filter some of the harsh sunlight out there.”

She wouldn’t mind a larger shade, though. “It’s square, but ideally should come a little closer to the walls,” Falbo says. But for now, it definitely does the trick.

Credit: Katie Falbo
Credit: Katie Falbo

Create “distinct areas” with a mix of old and new furniture.

After putting together a mood board, Falbo and her partner were able to figure out which of their existing furniture pieces could stay and be reworked or accessorized to fit the vision.

“We love mixing secondhand and new,” Falbo says. “For example, we’re still using a secondhand World Market outdoor sofa we’ve had for 4 years. It retails for over $800, but we found it for $175.”

The couch paired with a secondhand coffee table and a new IKEA chair create the ultimate hangout spot, while a set of vintage bistro chairs and a new Target bistro table provide the perfect spot to have morning coffee or work al fresco. The potting bench is great for gardening, but can also double as an outdoor mini bar.

“We were surprised we could fit so many distinct ‘areas’ in our outdoor space,” Falbo says. “It doesn’t feel cluttered.” 

Her advice for anyone on the fence about personalizing their space: “Just go for it!” she says. “Don’t let the ‘landlord special’ deter you from decorating with colors and styles you love.”