My Husband’s Big Deck: Our Backyard Before & After

Well, that got your attention, didn’t it? Blame my shrunken, shriveled brain, but somehow I have totally neglected to share a big part of our home renovation here on the blog – our new patio and deck, which is about thirty times nicer than what what our once-daggy 70s house had there before. (Those before pics are coming up a little later in this post).

I’ve shared our outdoor entertaining area makeover so much on my social media, but somehow I have totally forgotten to share it on the blog. It has added so much functionality to our house and made it so much nicer to entertain here, and the idea, I have to admit, was all my husband’s. I actually didn’t even want to do a deck here at all! (But when I jumped on board with the idea, I was all systems go).

Chairs and side table from Early Settler. Cushions from Bambury.

Miss Nerd literally started crawling the DAY before we took these pics! (these were taken a while ago!) Light from The Montauk Lighting Co. Cladding from Scyon. Deck by TJP Carpentry. Photo by Crystal Patterson.

Having the deck has changed things so much for the better that sometimes I wish we had done it much earlier, but then we wouldn’t have appreciated it so much, I suppose? I love it so much.

It looks like I’m looking lovingly at the baby. I’m actually gazing at the deck.

It feels like we’ve added another room onto the house – and a very appreciated room at that, now that we’ve gone from just two people living here with a dog to a family of five. (Yes, I count the dog. The neediest dog in the world, who sleeps on our bed every night with her head on the pillow, tucked in as she demands (and deserves. We are merely her disciples).

I love myself a little walk through renovation memory lane, so this is what our backyard/outdoor area looked like when we bought the house, nine years ago. It was a depressing, dark sunroom with disgusting fibreglass roof. Bleh. (Walk with me. We’ll get there. It will be nice at the finish).

Sorry for the small grainy photos – taken in the days before I ever dreamed I’d be putting my house on the internet.

I distinctly remember being at the home open, and a woman walking into the sunroom and grimacing. It WAS gross. But meanwhile I was all heart-eyes like, “Oh wow! ANOTHER room!” Genuinely joyous.

And free scenic fish/mosquito pond!

It’s funny because when I was house-hunting I had been looking at all these much, much smaller apartments and villas (in more desirable, but more expensive suburbs, such as Leederville and Applecross) and this was the first detached ‘house’ I visited. It was also unfurnished, and even though it’s by no means a big house, and I know it’s not the ‘done thing’ these days to sell a home unfurnished, it felt like it added to its feeling of spaciousness. It felt roomy and full of potential.

So despite its uglier features, like the sunroom, I was genuinely smitten by this seemingly huge house and its bigger block, and all the beautiful trees.


Not long after we moved in, Mr Nerd and I gave the sunroom a really budget makeover with white paint and new roof panels. I blogged about that little reno here. It brightened it up a lot and made it much nicer to sit under, and also doing the mission brown windows white and replacing the roofing panels made the INSIDE of our house seem much brighter – and we had it that way for years. So even though it was a pain to paint, it was worth doing.


I dug out the old 70s bricks and we did DIY poured limestone out the back which was a great idea initially…


until it went mucky and looked like this:

Lovely…


The sunroom was not the biggest room and with four doors/entrances, it always felt sort of limited in regards to how you could place furniture. It was fine, but it wasn’t really an ideal space to put a table and chairs, for example.


I started to become obsessed with the idea of enjoying a meal, at a table, outside (probably right around the time Little Nerd started solids, strangely enough). And after a while Mr Nerd became obsessed with the idea of knocking out the sunroom completely and building a deck there instead, with a new patio roof. At first I wasn’t keen on the idea of decking at all, although I have always loved it. I knew that decking generally tends to be much more expensive to do than paving. So why not do paving? I also figured we could probably lay pavers ourselves, too, and save some money.

But Mr Nerd wanted a deck and he fought me on it and eventually I agreed – BUT I wanted it done professionally. (I know, I’m fickle and annoying. I’d be happy to lay pavers ourselves but if we want a deck I want to pay the people. The TJP Carpentry people, to be specific – they did our cladding makeover and their work was so good they were our first choice to do the deck).

I think it was partly because I knew if we did it ourselves, with a toddler and a baby in tow, it would be the kind of project that would take a looong time and our yard would become even more of a mess. I just imagined us all tripping over lumber and lengths for months to come.

See, this only took a week and already Nala looks pissed. Can’t have that. We must please the matriarch.

 

Lumber and cladding can be toys.


Don’t get me wrong, I know little kids don’t care about mess in a yard – ours genuinely LOVE playing in renovation rubble, hiding Paw Patrols amidst tools and lumber, the thrill of possibly impaling themselves on some sharp remnant. Sometimes I think the messier a yard, the more kids find it thrilling.

We removed our old built-in “coffee table”, which was a slab of stone on limestone blocks, and Little Nerd stood over the limey rubble and declared with pleasure, “MY SANDPIT!” You do you.

But this isn’t about the kids, it’s about me! So, I said I would happily do a deck but it had to be done by pros. Plus, this deck and patio Mr Nerd had in his mind just kept getting bigger and bigger. He thought it would be a good idea to extend the deck all the way past the house. In the end I even wondered if it was going to be too big. (That wasn’t meant to sound dirty but it sort of did).

As I said before, we hired TJP Carpentry to do our deck. Mr Nerd was keen to give it a crack himself but I went kind of feral and insisted that we get it done professionally, and, I’m so glad we did. It was done much faster (and much better!) than we could have ever done it ourselves. As a bonus, it was all done in time for Christmas and we had a beautiful Christmas Day here. I can’t recommend Tim and his team enough (it was actually a wonderful House Nerd reader who recommended HIM to me in the first place, for which I will always be thankful).


The patio was by Great Aussie Patios, who also did our new carport. We got four quotes and they weren’t the cheapest but they were the only ones (of that lot) who were happy to do a skillion roof (a flat, angled roof) as opposed to a more traditional gabled patio design, and we liked efficient and easy they were to liaise with – they sorted out the council approval too. I think we could have gone either style of patio, by the way, and it would have looked fine, but with the new Scyon Walls cladding the skillion roof seemed to be a better fit.

Once we knocked the old sunroom out, the difference in the light inside the house was huge – it felt so much brighter. I actually became quite hesitant about doing another patio to replace it – an even bigger patio this time – and running the risk of the inside house becoming quite dark (both our living spaces, study and kitchen wrap in an L-shape around the deck).

Sunroom knocked off and ready for the new patio. This photo looks so strange to me now.

But see those white panels above the gutters and between the ceiling of the new patio? They make a MASSIVE difference. Those panels are made of Sunpal Sunlite sheets, a polycarbonate product that uses Solarsmart technology to give 99.9% UV protection while letting in a truckload of natural light. They’re pretty amazing.


They’re opaque so they can be used as privacy screens as well, and they let us boost up the ceiling height of the patio while also covering the less-than-attractive roof.

Patio up and waiting for decking!

The ceiling of our patio is SolarSpan Insulated Roof Sheeting. Even when it’s really hot, it never feels too uncomfortable to sit outside on the deck, it does stay a nice temperature.

Pre-patio!
After

In between the patio being built and the deck going in, I took your advice. You know the big dragon tree in our backyard? Upon urging from many house nerd readers, I cut back the trumpet vine that had been engulfing since the day we moved in here.

I cut it back by hand, with like a snippy thing, because my darling hubby is terrified of letting me use his chainsaw, or really anything sharp, and I dragged all the branches out to green waste collection.

I’m kind of obsessed with this tree now, so please excuse the abundance of photos.



It took more than two days to cut it all back as much as possible, and by the end I had blisters on my blisters and biceps on my biceps, but it was the most satisfying garden project ever. It was SUPER fun to slowly see the trunk of the tree emerge from all that thicket- we’d never seen the trunk before. It’s impossible to actually remove the trumpet vine completely, it must stay, and for those who asked why I didn’t cut it back completely, it’s because our block slopes from one side to the other and with the hedge completely gone there would have been no privacy between our garden and our poor neighbours. No walking around naked.

Oddly, when I was cutting back the trumpet vine, I actually uncovered the long-petrified remains of two other (much smaller, long-dead) dragon trees. I figured whoever planted the first one must have done three at once, probably not realising how big they can get, or either planting three for luck and hoping one would take – which it sure did.

Now with the hedge gone there was slightly more room for Tim and his guys to work, and it was time for them to start the deck.

The longer I’ve written this blog, the more I’ve learned that some people really like informative photos of bits and things, the how-it’s-all-put-together stuff. It’s not just about the pretty stuff! So here you go, those people, here is a photo of a bit. Also, my foot.
So happy when it got to this stage!
First breakfast on the deck with our new Marson outdoor table from Early Settler! One child is happy about his house’s ‘new deck for riding bikes around’ and one doesn’t give a hoot and wants to know why there is a holdup with her bottle.

Firstly – something I obsess over. Wood! I obsessed over wood when we did our kitchen benchtops. I obsessed over wood when it was time to do the deck, which we chose Pacific teak for.


I like jarrah, which seems to be the most commonly done in Perth, but we wanted something lighter in colour, simply because our internal vinyl plank floors are a light oak colour and we wanted the deck to be lighter as well.

Photo by Crystal Patterson.

I did think about composite decking, like Trex, but it’s expensive. And even though composite decking products have come a long way and have so many advantages – like I think it’s awesome that lots of them are made from recycled plastic – to me there is still nothing that beats the look of real timber.

Despite my research, I’d never even heard of Pacific teak until Tim texted me a pic. “Do that,” I said. It was exactly what I wanted and had been hoping to get. Here in Perth it’s usually slightly more expensive than jarrah, but less costly than Tasmanian oak and blackbutt.



It actually does look so, so beautiful in its unfinished, un-oiled state too – look at it freshly laid below! I can’t describe how excited I was at this stage. Don’t look at my dead blueberry bush screaming, “YOU SAID YOU’D WATER ME” in the background. Look at those soft, Scandinavian-inspired whitewash-ey looking tones. I had the urge to do ballet moves I can’t physically perform.


But because of our block orientation, the deck unfortunately cops a beating from the full brunt of the late afternoon summer sun) we definitely needed the protection of an oil, and so oiled it was. But then it brought out these delicious deep honey tones. So, I’m happy.

Looking so good from our kitchen window!


And a little before photo just to jog your memory… I don’t miss this but my pot plants looked good.
BEFORE

BEFORE
AFTER


Photo by Crystal Patterson.
Photo by Crystal Patterson. Chairs from Early Settler.

Amazing giant games from The Garden Party Company – they’re the best!
Never said I was a gracious winner.

We never didn’t invite people over, even mid-reno, but now with the deck done it is SO much nicer inviting people round. You definitely appreciate it a lot when you’ve lived with the ‘before photo’ for so many years!


That said, we’ve still got bits of our backyard to go until I will finally feel like, “We’re done!” Since most of these pics were taken, I’ve spray painted those Colorbond sheds black. I still want to paint those old pavers – and that bit of old poured limestone beneath where the deck is – we want to pull that up and extend the lawn.


And see what we call ‘the sandpit’, which is basically a spot where we used to have our old limestone and stone slab ‘coffee table’ and where now the kids play? That sandpit will go.

Don’t feel too sorry for them, they have a new, upgraded sandpit now and it’s a truly awesome one AND a cool story too… but that’s a blog post for a different day 😉

In the meantime here are the trades and suppliers we used – and if you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to ask! Maya x

ALFRESCO ENTERTAINING AREA MAKEOVER – TRADES, SUPPLIERS, THINGS I LIKE

DECKING
TJP Carpentry

DECK OIL
Feast Watson

CLADDING
Scyon Walls (Stria)

PATIO
Great Aussie Patios

OUTDOOR LIGHT
The Montauk Lighting Co.

GUTTERS AND DOWNPIPES
Westcoat Perths Roof and Gutter Restoration Specialists

PAINT AND COLORBOND COLOURS
Monument (dark charcoal) and Dulux Natural White

GORGEOUS CUSHIONS & THROWS
Bambury

EPIC GIANT GAMES FOR HIRE
The Garden Party Company

Maya-Anderson-House-Nerd

Author: Maya Anderson

When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than House Nerd. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.

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