Dream Deck Arises Despite Backyard Obstacles

Chelsey Curtis

Article Posted By: Chelsey Curtis

of Housewife 2 Hostess

This dream deck is quite an achievement when you see the work that needed to be done to make the backyard ready for a deck.

Chelsey Curtis of Housewife2Hostess and her husband started with a backyard with a pretty severe slope. But with patience, hard work and some clever ideas, they now have a truly impressive outdoor space.

Here, Chelsey explains how they managed to get this amazing deck built, and she shares some of the clever ways they made the most of the outdoor space.

Creating a Dream Deck

In order to truly appreciate something, sometimes you have to go way back to where it all started.

Landscaping a Sloped Backyard

A sloped backyard not ready for a deck

This was my (very average) backyard that was given to us the day we closed our house. Something you can’t tell very easily from this picture, it’s actually sloped at nearly a 45-degree angle from the highest point (on the side of the house) to almost completely level with the street on the side where this photo was taken.

Because the lot was so severely sloped, it was one of the only lots remaining in our neighborhood. When neighbors saw where we were building, we heard comments like, “Your backyard would be great for sledding in the winter,” or, “Good luck with that hill.”It  didn’t deter us one bit from the big plans and overall vision we had for our beautiful dream backyard.

A sloped backyard not ready for a deck

Above is an upper angle looking down.

Landscaping a sloped backyard

The above photo really shows how high up it sloped on the side, that upper cement pad was our highest existing point. We started by hiring a landscaper to help us with Phase 1 of this transformation.

We added a cement pad on the upper level for more storage with a connecting path to an outdoor fireplace (see DIY Ideas for the Christmas Mantel for a look at the finished fireplace). Our landscaper finished our retaining walls, positioned the cement blocks and gravel area (for our deck), removed nearly 10 dump trucks full of dirt (mostly rocks), brought in topsoil and finished by leaving us with enough sod for us to cover our quarter acre lot.

Building the Deck

Then it was time to pick the colors for our deck and come up with our overall design. We decided to build the deck with a composite material called Amorguard made by Veranda. We chose Armorguard decking planks in Seaside Gray and a white railing.

The finished dream deck

I was a bit nervous when my husband wanted to take on this project (because he would be building the deck alone) but my mind was at ease after visiting with the associates at The Home Depot’s Pro-Help Desk. They created a full blueprint and detailed booklet of deck plans (made to our specifications), with step-by-step instructions and the exact number of materials needed to complete this project (isn’t technology amazing?!).

Within five weeks my husband had built our beautiful 32 x 15 ft., two-level dream deck.

A dream deck, not quite completed

Here is where we left off from last summer— our gorgeous deck needed just a few finishing touches.

We decided to start with the stairs coming off the deck. But because of the angle (of the edge of the deck going toward the hot tub) we decided to keep things uniform and only go the length of the shorter angle (where you see the cinder blocks in the photo above).

Deck with steps down to outdoor fireplace

Building steps on a deck

This created two problems:

  1. There was an exposed bit of cement next to the steps, which looked funny.
  2. We still needed a solution to enclose that long edge and give it that “finished” look.

I threw out the idea of building a 12-foot long planter box to extend the full length that remained and meet up at the steps. After some back and forth (and serious hesitation) from my husband, he finally agreed (yay!) and he started to build it.

The 12-Foot Planter Box

Building a deck planter box

This project alone took him almost 8 hours to do because he had to cut out part of the lawn, move the sprinkler, build the planter, add the vinyl covering, do the finish work and fill/add plants to it. It was built with pressure treated wood and finished with white vinyl sheets that looked like white painted wood.

Dream deck with built-in 12 ft. planter box

It was a lot of work but in the end, we both were so glad that he ended up doing it and we both love how it turned out. It really finished up that side and added so much visually to the space.

Finishing the Back of the House

Over the past 18 months in our adventures of home ownership, I’ve learned that I’m a low-maintenance yard kind of girl. Since I’m the one caring for the plants in our yard, I find that I keep them alive longer if I limit my flowers to one large pot and have lots of shrubs. So that’s exactly what I did, and it’s been working out really well for me.

Trellis built over back door

I really wanted to add something that broke up our flat builder-grade back of the house, so we decided to add a trellis above the sliding glass door. It was built out of 4 x 4s, 2 x 6s and 2 x 2s that I painted bright white (to tie in the white railing of the deck) with exterior paint.

The hardest part was finding the studs to secure it to. Luckily for us, we were able to find them using the inside walls, and we had photos of all of the framing from when we built the house. (If you’re having a house built, I highly recommend taking photos of the progress. They can come in handy in unexpected ways.)

Hampton Bay Edington Outdoor Set in Textured Sand

Outdoor accessories on a dream deck

The Woodbury Outdoor Dining Set on a dream deck

We also swapped out the dinky light fixture for this larger three-bulb one.

Outdoor Furniture for the Deck

The Home Depot has so many styles of outdoor furniture, grills and accessories to choose from, it took me a while to decide on which ones would be best. With two spaces on the deck, I knew I wanted an outdoor dining table and a conversation set.

I fell in love with the Hampton Bay Woodbury dining set. I chose cushions in the Textured Sand color, but the Woodbury Outdoor Collection comes with 16 color choices, so it you’re bound to see the color that looks best on your patio.

The Hampton Bay Edington conversation set and stunning round ottoman looks different enough from the Woodbury dining set to avoid being too matchy-matchy. The Edington Collection also offers 16 fabric choices, and a whole array of coordinating patio accessories. To coordinate with the dining set, I chose Textured Sand cushions and a matching umbrella.

More Outdoor Accessories

The selection of outdoor lights, pillows, lanterns, dishes, trays, pots and plants at The Home Depot are fantastic. The potted flower color scheme and inspiration came from the bright floral pillows, can you tell?

My two favorite finds were the two faux cement tall pots and the large white and copper lanterns.

Seating from the Edington Outdoor Collection

After the big projects were done, it was time to give the deck a good power washing, set up all of the patio furniture and accessories and make this this space ready for entertaining.

I chose to put the dining table on the upper level (since its right off the kitchen) and put the conversation set off to the side to create a path for walking and a cozy spot for us to visit with friends, have barbecues and make lasting memories.

Kamado Pro Ceramic Charcoal Grill

After working so hard to get this space ready, you bet we celebrated with an inaugural barbecue. I know ceramic grills are all the rage right now, but this Kamado Pro Ceramic Charcoal Grill cooks some of the best grilled food I’ve tasted.

We grilled corn, hot dogs and hamburgers, and smoked bacon and chicken that were so delicious, we basically had to force ourselves to stop cooking more meat. And the leftovers, oh the leftovers! The were just as tender and juicy as when they were first cooked, which is hard to do on a traditional grill.

Dream deck before completion

Competed dream deck

What a transformation. Phase 2 is complete and I am elated with how this outdoor space turned out. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the most recent backyard comment that was made to us was, “We were looking at buying your lot, and it was down to yours and the one we chose.”

I have absolutely loved participating in the Home Depot Patio Style Challenges and can’t wait to do another one! So until next time, may all of your backyard dreams come true!

Chelsea Curtis is author of Housewife2Hostess, a lifestyle blog about the ups and downs of life as a stay-at-home mom. Seeing and sharing beauty is a passion of Chelsey’s, with an emphasis on organization, hosting parties, DIY, home decor, beauty and more. She lives in the Salt Lake City, Utah area with her husband and little girl.

Browse our customizable patio collections, each with at least 16 fabric color choices and plenty of coordinating outdoor accessories. Follow our Patio Style Challenge board on Pinterest for more great outdoor decorating ideas from some of the most talented bloggers on the internet.