Before & After Renovations

My Dark, Dated Backyard Got A Light, Bright Makeover

I think I bought our house because of the pool (okaaaaay, and the school system). Not because our pool is especially pretty – it’s not. And was extra-not when we moved in thanks to a semi-terrifying algae issue that alerted us to the fact that the water hadn’t been changed in eight to ten years (uggggggg). No no: the exciting thing about our pool was the fact that it existed. And was part of a property that we could actually afford. (Such a fortuitous combination is, shall we say, “uncommon” in the Silicon Valley area.)

The reason I wanted a pool so much is because I hate entertaining. (Stay with me, because I’m aware that this doesn’t make sense.)

See, here’s the thing: entertaining makes me fall asleep, like those narcoleptic goats on YouTube. I’ve mentioned this before, and it’s true: all I have to do to get in a really good nap is know that I am about to be forced to interact with large numbers of human beings.

And that is why I wanted a pool. Because I (clearly) have a touch of social anxiety and throwing parties stresses me out, and yet I love having my friends over. I just don’t love having them over when I have to entertain them 100% of the time…and you know what pools do? Entertain people. My friends might have theoretically come over to see me, but let’s please get real: they are actually coming over to float around in the sunshine and drink beer. If I’m there I guess that’s nice because they presumably like me, but if I need to go do something else, like…oh, I don’t know, nap? They’re fine. Because there’s a pool. And readily accessible towels. And chips. And probably some kind of sangria.

A party that essentially throws itself is my kind of party.

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

The Concept:

Make a dark, dated-feeling patio area into a light, bright space for entertaining both adults and kids, and add a seating area to a large and un-utilized space on the far side of the pool.

The Paint:

A few months ago, I decided to fill in a weird recessed spot on our patio so that the entire thing was one level, thereby adding about 30 square feet of usable surface area. I didn’t like the mud-red color of the composite decking that the previous owners had put in, but figured the best thing I could do would be to match it, so mud-red composite boards were what I ordered. When our contractor – to my surprise – installed dove-grey boards that “were the only ones available” I wasn’t thrilled, but decided I could pull the two-toned floor together using…rugs, maybe? Or something, anyway.

This did not work. It just looked…ramshackle. In the worst way.

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

I played with lots of different ideas for redoing the patio area, but decided that the simplest and most cost-effective strategy was to paint the boards using a sturdy deck paint. I knew I’d have to repaint it every few years, but it still seemed like a better choice than replacing all the boards and starting from scratch. For the paint, I chose the same color as I chose for our entryway (Kelly-Moore Power Grey), and for the fencing I chose the color I used for our trim (Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur). Will it stay clean? Eh. The light grey definitely scuffs more than the mud-red, but on balance I’d rather have scuffy grey than creepy blood-color.

The DIYs:

Since we don’t have a ton of soil in the backyard, I had to put in potted plants, so I picked up a bunch of massive pots from Lowe’s and from yard sales and put in yucca trees, rose bushes, and other plants that can handle full sun. I also made a solar fountain that added a lot of color.

The Details:

For the back deck, I found a Max Studio patio set (4 chairs and a coffee table) at HomeGoods for about $600 (original cost over $3k), and added a found pallet (to conceal the pool equipment) and a black-and-white polka-dot umbrella from Target.

For the patio, I found a tiny antique coffee table and mismatched benches and kid-sized chairs from a local antique market, which I used to set up an eating area for our kids and their friends. I also added palm tree throw pillows from glam | camp, and leaned an antique crib headboard against a wall so it could be used as a ladder to hold glam | camp blankets and towels for guests.

As finishing touches, I hung our white and gold deer head and some string lights, and installed an inexpensive fountain (my son’s pick) to add a little atmosphere.

Price Tag:

  • Painting (Labor): $500 (plus tips)
  • Paint: $0 (leftovers from the house painting project)
  • Antique Kids’ Patio Set: $80
  • HomeGoods Patio Set: $600 (this similar set is much bigger and just as beautiful for just a couple of hundred dollars more, and I totally would have gotten this instead had I known it existed prior to writing this post)
  • Polka-Dot Umbrella: $40
  • Fountain: $85

TOTAL COST: $1305.00

Still On My To-Do List: 

  • Add a few more seating options to the main patio area (ones that can be easily stored when not in use).
  • Find battery-powered solar lights for the back patio area.
  • Add a second pallet to cover the rest of the pool equipment.
  • Add a second fountain to the back patio area. Or, perhaps…I don’t know…maybe A HOT TUB?!?!? (Yes please and obviously. Stay tuned for this one, because it clearly has to happen.)

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budgetLight grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budgetLight grey deck backyard makeover on a budgetLight grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

Light grey deck backyard makeover on a budget

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