Before & After: A Big, Blank Backyard Gets Decked Out With a Deck (and Much More)

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Bethany lived through one of the in-the-middle-of-a-huge-project-fears that keeps renovators up at night, one of her contractors ghosted on her! Ever the intrepid and resilient DIYer she spent the time scouring for deals on patio furniture, planning even more DIY projects and finding folks who could actually come through on the project. The result is a backyard that makes the most of a generous amount of space, creating a very chill and welcoming vibe.

From Bethany: The large fenced-in yard was one of the main selling points when we bought the house. And although we appreciated it, and realized how rare it was to have that size in our area, we always knew it could be more. Before we even bought our house, we always fantasized about having a nice big space to entertain. A patio with room for furniture, a table to eat alfresco under the glow of lights, and of course a fire ring for s’mores. So since day one we imagined it being somewhere we could throw birthday parties, eat dinner, and waste away beautiful summer evenings.

Because 90% of our backyard was DIY’d by us, the entire process took almost two years. We broke ground with the pergola in August of 2015, and about a year later had the earth dug out and everything framed, ready for concrete. We decided on concrete because pavers were going to be too expensive, and we envisioned an organic “stamped” look. Our original contact for pouring the concrete ended up ghosting us. That was the most frustrating part, and really sucked up a lot of time. In the end of June 2017, a friend of a friend was able to get a team of guys together to pour and stamp everything in one day, and we couldn’t be happier.

While waiting for our concrete to be poured, we spent that time shopping for furniture on Craigslist and auction sites. Since we had time, we only bought during peak sale seasons and slowly collected instead of purchasing all at once.

That extra time also gave us a chance to REALLY figure out what we wanted. I knew a giant table was a necessity, and my husband was able to build one himself featuring built-in ice buckets for beverages. I added a personal touch by hand painting a design on top. He also designed and built the “grill hut” to shelter our grill and smoker.

My favorite part about the AFTER is its beautiful “jungalow” vibe. I always dreamed of a space lit by cafe lights, filled with plants, and am excited to see how it grows and fills out in the years to come. There’s also plenty room for people to eat, drink, groove to the music, and relax. Every time I look at our mini oasis, I feel nothing but pride. WE built this!

If there’s anything we wished we’d done differently, it would be to get our plants in the ground sooner. We were gone a LOT the summer of completion and weren’t able to do much planting until the middle of July. Overall though, we’re completely satisfied with how things turned out, especially for doing it almost all ourselves.

Bethany’s words of wisdom: Plan. Plan. Plan. A project of this size deserves a LOT of preparation for it to be successful. Also, don’t make impulse purchases just because you “need” them. One of the things I was most grateful for was that extra time we took to curate our furniture and accessories.

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Thank you Bethany! You can see more on Bethany’s blog A Soliloquy by Bethany.