Deck: Before and After

Home-ownership is a love-hate relationship.  You love having a roof over your head; one that you can paint, shift, re-decorate, re-configure, add to, take away… The flip side is being your own landlord, plumber, handyman, gardener or electrician.  There’s a lot of pressure in our country to have your own house.  And not even just a house, but a nice house.  With all the HGTV shows around these days, it’s hard to avoid dreaming about home improvements.

Matt and I like to dream about all the things we can do to our house to make it more like we want it.  Sometimes I can fall off the deep end thinking about it (thanks a lot Pinterest!).  But then I reel myself back in and ask the hard questions:  Is it really that important to have a new sink when the one you have is working perfectly fine?  I know you’d love to see if hardwood floors lurk beneath the laminate flooring, but are you willing to take 6 months out of your time and wallet to re-finish the floors?  The answer is “no” in most cases.

Except for a recent undertaking with our deck.  We spend A LOT of time outside.  We like to entertain during spring and summer, have coffee on the deck in the morning, lounge and read in the afternoons.  2016 was what I call “The Year of the Deck.”

In the summer of 2009 we bought the perfect house for us Coming from California, we never dreamed we’d be homeowners, simply because housing is so expensive out west.  But our dreams came true in Amarillo, TX.  We’re on over an acre of land and our mortgage is cheaper than anything we could rent.  The deck and yard were by far the biggest selling points for us!


This was right after we moved in.  You can see the railing went all the way around with built-in bench seating.  There were little hanging solar lanterns.  If you look closely, you can see that the stain is becoming worn.


The following spring we were hanging out on the deck and said, “Hey.  It’d be nice if we had a better view of our yard from the here.”  So Matt went to the garage and grabbed a saw.  He chopped a section out of the railing and we felt freeee!!!!


Yes, we love our yard so much we’ve even camped in it!


A much better view!

Well that started all kinds of madness with our deck over the years… By 2012 we had cut an even larger “viewing” space, made a few flowerbeds around the deck corners, tore off the lattice skirting (I’m not a fan of lattice) and cut off the 4×4’s that were the “lantern holders.”




Both of us being fans of modern design, we kept chipping away at the deck, trying to make it feel open and spacious.  The bottom rungs of the railing began to disappear…


After cutting off the 4×4’s, it looked bad so we added a wide “trim” piece.


We really wanted to add a step down to the yard from our “viewing point”…


We tried a makeshift step to see how we liked it.07_2013

Meanwhile, the seam where our deck boards met (Matt never could stand the fact that the deck was built this way-rather than having the boards stagger) was really starting to buckle.  He did a quick fix by adding more screws and sanding it down so we wouldn’t trip.


We thought it would be a good idea to sand and paint the deck, but….the day we finished that project…



We had a terrible storm here in the panhandle.  The hail broke our skylight and piled up on the freshly painted deck.12_2013

The next day left a lot of clean up, and our fresh paint job ruined.  (I think everyone in Amarillo got a new roof after that storm…)13_2013

Feeling discouraged, we left it chipped and ugly for a while.  Matt re-painted it but it never looked good.  Two years later, we’d stripped the entire deck of all railings and built-ins and built a new, wide, permanent step down into the yard.


As you can see, it looked terrible, so we decided to re-build the entire thing.14_2016

With one or two days a week to devote to the project (if we weren’t out of town camping!), we slowly plugged away at it.

We decided to use the existing base, which proved to be quite the challenge!  There was a lot of adjusting and “rigging” to make everything line up and look good (luckily Matt is pretty OCD!)



I did a LOT of sanding and staining, while Matt leveled, shimmed and measured carefully.


Top left:  You can see the difference between old and new wood


By Autumn we had a new deck.  Our deadline was a 30th birthday party we hosted for our friend.  We didn’t get all of the old paint sanded off the steps and trim, but it worked well enough for our musicians’ stage.



Soon after the party we finished it completely.  We are very happy with the outcome and it is exactly what we wanted.  A clean, simple deck with no obstructing views.




back yard



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