DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

08.26.20

Huzzah! The backyard project we’ve been working on for years is finally ready for its big debut! This was one of the largest renovations we’ve done on our home and our first exterior/landscape undertaking. Lots of thought and problem solving went into this one, along with plenty of blood sweat and tears on the side.

This outdoor space has completely changed our lives and we’re so grateful to have it during this time. I wish we could all sip sangria out here together but for now, I hope you’ll come on over for the grand tour!

In this deck makeover reveal I’ll be sharing:

  • Before Photos {it’s hard to believe where we started!}
  • Our Inspiration & Design Plan {you know I love a vision}
  • Final Results & Lots of Details {get ready for a zillion photos}
  • All Sources {in case you’re keen to add anything you see}

GIFTED PRODUCT DISCLOSURE: The folks at Article gifted the furniture featured below in exchange for feedback and coverage here on Style Bee. Article was at the top of my list for where to shop for our outdoor furniture and we’ve been so happy with its performance and quality. This post is not sponsored nor do I earn a commission on the gifted items. Article highly encouraged my honest thoughts, waited patiently for us to pull it all together and I’m delighted to be working with the brand again.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

I should mention up front that Dave, my partner, is a civil engineer and contractor. His skills and expertise, along with the support of several others are what made this project possible. He worked incredibly hard to bring our vision to life, with no detail left out and it’s even better than we’d imagined. Shout out to Dave’s amazing Mum, Joyce, and John B. for all their help too. I’m sorry we had so much fencing to paint and a million old stones to move!

If you’re local to Guelph, ON and looking to revamp your exterior space feel free to check out Ruhl Builds for contact info.


BEFORE PHOTOS

I took these photos when we moved in back in 2013. As you can see the space was in pretty rough shape but we knew there was plenty of potential.



INSPIRATION

We wanted to create a space that felt contemporary and fresh with an effortless flow throughout. These were some of the images that resonated most and helped to bring our vision together. We loved the look of a multi-material approach that combined concrete, stone and wood with lots of green accents.


For lots more where these came from you can peruse my Backyard board on Pinterest.


DESIGN PLAN

Similar to our Living Room Update, we kept a clear style profile in mind that helped to guide our design choices. These were the words I used:

SERENE | TEXTURED | BALANCED | FLOW

For this outdoor zone I was excited to play with contrast and create some drama with a palette and textures that would instantly evoke a feeling of escape. While it needed to compliment our indoor space we sought out to create a distinct sense that you’ve entered an open-air respite.

We settled on a neutral palette of mostly black and grey with pops of green and bring in pattern and colour through accessories. The key design choice was a bold black fence, which we felt it would contrast well with the exterior brick and mix nicely with the concrete patio, river rock around the tree and grey decking.

Now I’ll walk you through all the updates we made to each section of the space. We’ll start with the shed, which is situated at the back of our side yard (where you may have seen Dobby fetching) and make our way around towards the sitting area & fire pit (aka our favourite spot).

These are the 5 sections of the space:

  • Shed
  • Walkway
  • Dining Area
  • Tranquility Corner
  • Lounge / Fire / Grill Zone

Let’s take the tour!


THE SHED


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

The storage shed was the first phase of our exterior project. Last summer Dave built this little beauty in the far corner of the yard and it’s as if it was always there! This little building is home to outdoor essentials (lawn mower, gardening supplies etc.), extra lumber, bikes, and lots more. I love the salvaged grid window and the sliding barn doors were a special detail that Dave worked hard to perfect.

I’ll be sharing a video tour on IG soon that gives a peek inside the shed in case you’re curious.


Here’s Dave in 2013 standing in the corner where the shed would later go.

WALKWAY


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

We didn’t want the deck area and the shed to feel like completely separate elements, so Dave designed this beautiful concrete slab transitional walkway to connect the spaces. It was a tricky detail to sort out but by staggering the slabs on an angle and filling the remaining space with river rock it worked out so well.

Dobby loves hopping from one slab to the next on his way to play fetch and they’re the perfect spot to cool your feet on a hot day.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}
DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

DINING AREA


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}
DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

We designated the space directly behind our house as the dining area and built a raised platform out of composite boards. We chose this over natural wood as it’s more tolerant to shady areas and moisture, which is ideal since the area doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight.

We love entertaining, so a good size dining table and comfy chairs were a must. For the space I felt that a lean, oval table would be best and keep things from feeling cramped. I was looking for a minimally designed set in an easy to maintain finish and the Ballo Table and Svelti Chairs from Article fit the brief perfectly (these were gifted). They can get wet or dirty and a quick wipe down has them back to looking like new.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

So far we’ve been very happy with this dining set. So much so that we’re planning to bring it inside for the winter to replace our current situation. The chairs are very comfortable to sit on and the table is a great size for hosting a dinner party of 4-6 ppl (although we’ve only had 2 ppl over at a time this year). Dave and I love working out here on our laptops and have meals al fresco at every chance we get.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

TRANQUILITY CORNER


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}
DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

We’re so lucky that the yard has two beautiful big maple trees, which offer a glorious canopy of shade all summer. One of them is in the corner of the property and in order not to damage the root system we needed to forego any digging or hardscaping. We decided to fill the area with river rock and build a new retaining wall/bench seat. Dave also designed a special solution for the fence corner by using Sunbrella fabric since the trunk was prohibitive to using boards.

I was struggling with how to utilize this space, feeling as though it needed to have some furniture in order to serve a purpose. However, as it remained open through the season I began to see that it was already functioning as a reprieve from activity and I decided to leave it alone. I love to meditate in this space and listen to the leaves and grasses rustling. At the end of a long day, we’ll often park ourselves on the retaining wall/bench and have a glass of wine.

Even though we have a lush canopy of green overhead, I felt the space needed some greenery. You know my philosophy on greenery, no such thing as too much! On the walls running either side of the tree I decided to do a set of hanging planters to add some life and interest. I went for low maintenance grasses that were shade tolerant and love how this feature turned out.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

LOUNGE / FIRE / GRILL ZONE

Of course I saved the best part for last!

DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}
DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

By the time we began this project, the old patio space (immediately off the kitchen) was essentially caving in and the square footage felt a bit cramped for both a grill zone and comfortable seating. Luckily, we were able to push the fence line into our driveway slightly, allowing an extra 8 feet of depth. Then we decided to pour a concrete slab with a trowel finish for a super solid and easy to maintain patio space.

A fire element was an essential for us but with city bylaws preventing an open wood fire, we opted for a gas fire pit. We searched everywhere for something minimal and elegant and were thrilled to discover DEKKO, a local manufacturer. We got the Alea style* in 2019 and it’s been so great. It definitely extends the use of the space and even during the depths of winter it’s allowed us to spend time outside. Well worth the investment for sure. See it in action during the evening in the nighttime section below.

*We installed a natural gas line, which our grill is also fuelled by. It runs around the perimeter of the space and connects under the couch. You can just make it out in the photo below.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}
DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

We love hanging out by the fire and looked for a sofa and lounge chair set that would be super comfortable, modern and made of solid wood for durability. The Arca Sofa and chair set from Article (gifted) are made of solid teak and ticked all the boxes*. They’re SO comfortable and spacious, without taking up a ton of room or being a giant block of plastic, like most outdoor furniture.

Since we knew that one of the chairs would have its back to the dining area, it was important that the design was nice to look at and the Arca chair has a beautiful back detail. I almost wish the back of the sofa was exposed too, since it’s the same style.

*The cushion covers zip off for easy washing but spot cleaning has been doing the trick all summer. I also bought a set of covers for when it’s really rainy and over the winter we’ll store the cushions in the shed.



For drinks, snacks and other items to sit on, I chose a set of Gera Granite side tables (gifted). I love how the granite adds some interest and ties all the greys and blacks together.

I must say, we’ve been so impressed with the caliber of Article’s outdoor offering. We looked at lots of brands for outdoor furniture and when it comes to price and quality I don’t think Article’s value can be topped. All the pieces featured are still available and they’ve got lots of great styles on sale too. See the source list section below.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

A bold print area rug (save 15% with ‘LEE15’) along with some striped and textured pillows were a simple way to warm up the space and add some layers and textures. I especially enjoy how the rust colour in the rug ties in the brick exterior of the house.


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}
DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

GRILL



And finally, the grill! We love a good BBQ and this specific one from Crown Verity, another local brand, was on Dave’s wish list. We lucked out with a Kijiji find and it’s been incredible.


A FEW ADDITIONAL DETAILS



Bugs – Anyone who lives in Ontario knows that a summer evening is not complete without some buzzing visitors. To help with that issue, we decided to try out a Haven repellent system and it definitely helps.

Drainage – Since this area is heavily shaded, Dave designed lots of drainage into the space. He’s really good at making functional elements look awesome and I love how these trenches turned out.

Lighting – We added a new fixture outside of the kitchen door and used exterior string lights around the perimeter, which warm the space up tremendously. This brings me to the final section of this reveal, how it all looks at night!


NIGHTTIME

As wonderful as it is to work and relax out here in the daytime, this space is particularly enchanting at night. With the string lights floating and the fire flickering it’s downright magical! Here’s a few photos of how it looks.



SOURCES



DECK MATERIALS & ACCESSORIES


UPPER DECK FURNITURE, ACCESSORIES & FIRE PIT

As noted up top, all furniture was kindly gifted by Article & we’re so happy with the quality & how it has performed so far. All gifted items noted with **


LOWER DECK DINING AREA


DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}
DECK MAKEOVER {Before & After}

THANKS FOR TAKING THE TOUR OF OUR DECK MAKEOVER!

I hope it inspires some ideas for any outdoor space you might have.

I’ll be sharing some video content on my instagram soon so keep an eye out for that if you want a virtual walk-through!

If you’ve got any questions about any of the items noted throughout this post, please feel free to ask in the comments!


Leave me a comment here!

  1. Cate Fry says:

    Your makeover is beautiful and so inspiring. I have the same question that someone else asked because I wasn’t sure of your answer: are you going to keep the furniture outside all winter? In your reply you said you had “originally” planned to do that which sounds like you’ve now decided against it. I love that furniture, and would seriously consider it, but we don’t have an indoor place to store it. In Connecticut, our winters are cold and occasionally snowy, but not brutally harsh. Still, the Article website recommends storing indoors in cold and rainy climates so I’m not sure I want to take the risk. Would the covers provide enough protection? Thanks for clarifying!

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Hi Cate, We’ll be leaving the couch frame and chairs outside with covers on over winter. I think they’ll be fine since the spot is relatively sheltered. We’ll probably store the pillows in the shed though and brush off any major snowfall. We intend to use the firepit and sit outdoors whenever we can in the winter too. The dining table would get the same treatment but I’m considering bringing it in since our current indoor set is pretty beat up. Hope that helps!

  2. Kirra says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing renovation to your outdoor space. The vision you had from those before photos is impressive! Enjoy it.

  3. Michelle Christie says:

    Hi! This turned out beautifully! I really love the teak set from Article and I am now checking out Dekko products……I am most interested in the composite decking. We would like to build an outdoor seating area….was wondering if you could give some insight around square footage and cost for the composite decking and why you chose to go with this material….

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks Michelle! The Timbertech composite boards we used are sold individually and price varies depending on the style and range you choose (ours were about $95 a board). It ends up being a bit more than cedar boards but because the area is heavily shaded (ie: doesn’t dry out fast) we felt the composite would be better long-term. It also has a 25-year fade and stain warranty so no worries about having to sand and stain year over year. We love it so far and Dave is installing it on two more deck projects this fall. I hope that helps!

  4. Melanie says:

    Really beautiful and inspiring!

  5. Alejandra says:

    Oh Lee!
    What an amazing job you guys have done! Congratulations, it is really inspiring and beautiful

  6. AnnLouise says:

    What an amazing and inspirational transformation! Kudos to both of you. Enjoy your new outdoor space.

  7. Chan Claire says:

    This is so beautiful, but I think I’m most impressed by your patience!!! These home decor posts are awesome 🙂

  8. Diane says:

    Beautiful. Worth the wait.

  9. Alessandra says:

    It looks beautiful! I can’t wait to see the video. The table and chairs are gorgeous. If you weren’t planning on bringing in indoors this winter, do you think it would be able to withstand the winter outside? Or would you have to store it somewhere?

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks Alessandra! We’d originally planned to keep it outdoors and I think it would be fine depending on where you live (maybe not ideal for super severe winter weather). I bought this cover for it so it’s at least a little bit protected from the elements. So far the set has been rained on a lot and with a wipe down it’s completely fine.

  10. Joan says:

    Just beautiful! Which fuel option did you choose and how did you deal with the hose/pipe to the unit?
    Thank you.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Hi Joan, Thank you! We put in a natural gas line, which the grill also runs on. The pipe runs around the perimeter and the hose comes out from the fence under the couch. It’s pretty discrete.

  11. Brenda says:

    Wow! So beautiful! And what a great year to finish up this project. The night time photos are just stunning. I am most interested in investigating your bug-preventer and THAT FIRE PIT! It is gorgeous.

    • Brenda says:

      Me again! Actually a quick question about the fire pit. Did you install a natural gas hookup, or do you use a propane tank? If you use a propane tank, where is it located in the sitting area?

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Hey Brenda, yep, we put in a natural gas line, which the grill also runs on. The pipe runs around the perimeter and comes out under the couch but it’s pretty discrete.

  12. Andrea H says:

    You guys are a dream team! Your space is amazing!! Also, you kind of blew me away with that fire pit!!!

  13. Cathy says:

    You and Dave rocked it! No other words needed.

  14. Devon says:

    HOLY CANNOLI THAT’S AN AMAZING BEFORE AND AFTER.

    Seriously, mind blown. So impressed. Love it.

  15. Lexie says:

    I find it so inspirational that you have been working at this space since 2013! We bought our house two years ago and it is really hard to see all the inspiration online and have to wait to save $$ for projects! It’s nice to read that even with receiving gifted product, projects take time!

  16. Lucretia Roletta says:

    Such imagination to completely transforming that space!! Well done!

  17. Kelly says:

    Oh my goodness Lee, it could not be more lovely. It’s so inviting and serene. I can imagine a space like this adds so much to your life. Well done!

  18. Leslie says:

    The work and thought you put into this backyard makeover is very evident. It turned out marvelous and is a lovely reflection of your style. Hope you’ll enjoy it for years to come!!

  19. Poonam says:

    Lee, this is such a wonderful and thoughtfully designed space. You, Dave and the fam knocked it out of the park!! Here’s to many days and nights enjoyed in this gorgeous oasis. Well done!

  20. minju says:

    absolutely stunning!!!! well done!! what an inspiration! when i have my own home one day i will come back to this post for ideas and inspiration. i love that the deck is not just gorgeous, it is truly functional and thoughtfully designed. but coming from you, that’s hardly a surprise 🙂 !

  21. Kathleen says:

    What a beautiful space! Thank you for sharing! You’ve definitely inspired me!