I have spent more than 20 years working as a professional in home and landscape design. Add to this the summers I spent with my father “helping” to build features such as backyard decks and storage sheds, and you could say I have been in love with handcrafted things since I was a small boy. Our own family home looked radically different by the time my dad finished implementing all of his ideas.
Because of this, I can understand how impatient my clients become when they see a different picture for their home, deck or backyard landscape than what it is currently there. The key is to begin to do something I call “love the deck you’re with” — by making small modifications that your time and budget allow for. I have shown my clients how these seemingly insignificant changes can later add up to help create their dream backyard, deck or other space.
The First Steps
Make a list of specific things you love about your deck. If the deck is the height you envision for your “dream deck,” write that down. If the shape matches what you desire (even if you want to extend that shape), write that down too. Once you have a list of the things you like about your current deck, next create a list of the features that you want to change. Perhaps you would prefer to stain your deck a different color or maybe you want to make your deck larger. It could be that your deck gets very hot because of how the sun hits it, and you would like to partially roof it and add in a ceiling fan for comfort. Perhaps your complaints have to do with your existing deck furniture and layout because you want to do more outside entertaining or don’t enjoy sitting in your existing furniture.
The Do-It-Yourself vs. Professional Assistance
Once you have a picture of what works for your current deck as well as what you want to change, you will realize that your dream deck was not as far off as you thought. It might be helpful at this point, as many of my clients do when they contact me, to bring in an expert as a consultant. Some of the changes you want to make, like adding furniture, you’ll feel competent to handle yourself, but other changes, like adding an extension or installing electrical wiring for lighting and fans, you feel are best-handled by an expert. Be aware that while it may seem cheaper to adopt a do-it-yourself approach, there is no substitute for the kind of 24/7 customer service, high-quality materials, installation support, lifetime warranty protection and professional guidance that a professional, such as A Vinyl Fence & Deck, can bring. It can be much more time-consuming, frustrating and expensive to undo mistakes made by inexperienced DIY work than to spend more time consulting, paying a bit more and ensuring that the job you want accomplished is done perfectly the first time.
The Finishing Touches
Finally, make a timeline for completing each task. Your consultant can help you with budgeting questions, so you know what each piece will cost. Using the information you have, including applicable weather conditions, your personal finances, your available time and your ability to hire an expert, sketch out your plan of action. You might start by extending the deck if that is a significant part of your vision. If you merely want to change the deck’s color, then it would make sense to stain it first and later work on installing other features, such as lighting. Whatever the largest piece is that you will use to coordinate the rest of your modifications, try to start with that if possible — and if it makes sense given the overall scope of work.
Then, as you are able to and as finances permit, you can shop for deck furniture, locate artwork and greenery to add to the ambience, add a water feature or an outdoor grill and food preparation area, and install festive lighting and temperature control that will transform your deck into a space you can use on a daily basis. Once you have completed this process, you will discover that your dream deck was there in its raw form in your own backyard the whole time.