Our Finished Deck!

June 2, 2016

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Our deck is done! Our deck is done! We’ve been enjoying our outdoors for, what feels like, the first time since we moved here over 2 years ago. Today, I’m excited to share with you a bunch of photos, cost breakdown (while we paid for the sub-structure and labor, Trex supplied the decking, but we’ll add it all up at the end of the post so you can get an accurate idea of what something like this costs), process and a few unique choices we made. What this post isn’t is a finished, perfectly styled deck. We’re still working on that part, and are committed to letting it evolve over time. You’ll see we have a few pieces in place, and these outdoor sofas are on their way, but the girls are enjoying the open spaces right now, too.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Let’s rewind for a minute, because it’s hard to believe our backyard used to look like this:

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves JuliaTrex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves JuliaTrex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

These photos were taken a couple months ago, before spring arrived here and all the trees filled in in our backyard, or our neighbors’ yards rather–thanks for all the trees, neighbors! The thing that we didn’t love about our backyard was almost everything. It had a very small patio area that wasn’t really large enough to put anything on. And then we were left with a small grassy area that was never really used because the girls prefer to play in the much larger side yards. It felt like a wasteland. When we looked at the home, before buying it, Chris and I both looked in the backyard and decided right then and there–we’d love to have a deck covering that whole space.

Actually, I guess he wanted a deck and I was originally pining for some pavers or brick. But we nixed that idea pretty quickly after we realized all the Quaking Aspens that surrounded our home. Their roots shoot up in our yard and make the ground pretty uneven which would be a nightmare, and possibly detrimental to the trees, to attempt to flatten out an lay pavers. Which is how we landed on a deck and ultimately, after this post nearly 2 years ago where we asked you all which kind of decking you preferred, a Trex deck in their Clam Shell color. It’s the perfect dark, warm gray. It feels modern and classic at the same time.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Although we started with a smaller yard, it ended up being quite a large deck (around 1100 sq feet!) and minimal maintenance over the years took the cake. I talked a little bit about the substructure in this post, but since we decided to hire out the install, I don’t have a ton of technical information on exactly how it went down. I do know it rained every single day and the man we hired (who we found on a local community Facebook page) worked through it. Every day! He was a complete champ.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

One decision we already got a lot of questions about on this before and after post on instagram was the space between the deck and our home. It was a very calculated and conscious decision to leave that space there for one main reason–our window wells. There are ladders in each from the downstairs windows in case of an emergency. They also provide a lot of natural light to our basement so we wanted to keep as much light shining in as possible.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

As it turns out, we love the extra greenery and the pretty railings between the house and the deck–it adds so much! I’ll let you in on a secret–the original concrete pad is still under there, so we poured some mulch over it (hooray for weed-free landscaping!) and added some potted trees meant for slim spaces. They are light enough for even Greta to lift if, heaven forbid, she needed to escape through a window well from the basement.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Another fun detail is the white fascia on the stair fronts and around all the edges. I can’t take credit for this one, we had Clam Shell (the same color as our decking) fascia in our designs. Our local Lowe’s store was out of Clam Shell, so Trex suggested white and I can’t believe we were going to do anything else. The white border around everything really pops and makes it all looks so neat and crisp.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves JuliaTrex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Looking out from our back door, you’ll see the deck was built around what will be an outdoor fireplace. Chris and I are still in the design and research phase of that project, but hope to tackle it this summer.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

In one corner, you’ll see the deck cuts back into the house, right under the kitchen window. This has always been where Chris likes to cook so we’ll eventually make this a nice outdoor cooking area for him and his grills.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves JuliaTrex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

The Trex decking is attached to the substructure with hidden fasteners so there are actually no screws seen from the surface which is really nice visually and for little feet and paws, too.

So, how much does an 1100 sq ft deck cost?

Materials for the substructure $3200
Trex decking, fascia and railings $10,458
Labor $1850

TOTAL: $15,508

There were a few of you that asked for a cost breakdown earlier and I know I said lower than that because we hadn’t actually ordered our railings yet. So that includes all of those, too.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

The good news is, all of that cost would be almost 100% recouped if we ever decided to sell (which we have ZERO plans to). Not only does it add square footage to our living space, the Trex deck is virtually maintenance free which is appealing to a lot of buyers. But more than that–we’re just so happy to enjoy it as a family all summer long. You can see we have a few pieces of furniture in place.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves JuliaTrex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

We decided on the Ikea ÄPPLARÖ table for it’s simple lines and low price tag and paired it with these stackable tabouret chairs which also were easy on the wallet at 4 for $199. Note: They aren’t officially outdoor chairs, but a lot of the reviews said they used them outdoors with no problems. We live in a dry climate, so I am not too concerned about water and if it does start raining, I love that they stack so easily which will make it easy to store them off-season too.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Last night, we had our first dinner on the deck and the Greta asked, “Can we eat out here every night!?” Absolutely.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

We also got this loveseat (it’s on sale!) from Crate and Barrel, along with this planter, lanterns, and small fire pit to tide us over until we build a large fireplace. Although even then, I can see us using this for s’mores like we did over the weekend. It’s the perfect size and has such a great modern shape. I tossed this outdoor pillow from Target on the loveseat and my favorite pillow from The Vintage Rug shop on there too for a little party we had over the weekend.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

(Pretend there are candles in those lanterns!) As more furnishings come, things will shift around I’m sure. Right now we just have everything to one side so the girls have room to run and twirl.

Trex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves JuliaTrex Deck in Clam Shell | Chris Loves Julia

Naturally. To close this lengthy post, the deck is a dream for our whole family. And I can tell it will be for years and years to come. We’re excited to host gatherings and parties out here. To really fill it with family and friends and then also to enjoy it as just us. We’ll definitely keep you updated as it fills in and takes shape as a true extension on the inside of our home and then maybe we’ll just have you all over for a big party!



Special thanks to Trex for partnering with us on this massive undertaking, providing the beautiful Trex decking and railings and for believing in our vision. Although they provided some of the materials for this project, they did not pay us or ask us to write anything about their product. Thank you for supporting the brands who support us.

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What do you think?

  1. Kas says:

    From where did you get the umbrella for the Dinning table?

  2. Dan Taylor says:

    Really very happy to say your post is very interesting to read. I can’t stop myself to say something about it You’re doing a great job Keep it up.

  3. Brittany D says:

    Could you give me the info for your installer? We’re looking for a deck installer in Southern Idaho. Thanks!

  4. Lindsey Cowdin says:

    Hello, I love this design and deck. we are looking to have a 550 sq ft deck put in and the bid we just received is $17K. Hesitant to ask, but wondering if I can get the contact info for the person who installed your deck? He can even message me directly if he’s interested in some work. Please let me know. I’d love to have a deck, but I don’t know that I’m willing to pay that much.

    • Chris says:

      Honestly I wouldn’t reccommend our guy. We’ve had to pay someone else to fix our deck a few times because of the corners he cut. $17K does seem a little high, but I would shop around and get other quotes to see if there are better options.

  5. Angela says:

    We are planning a stamped cement patio so I searched your site (like I always do) to find out how big your deck is. We are going for about 400 sf and I was afraid it would be too big but then I read that yours is 1100! I guess I’m an underachiever! Love the search bar being front and center, btw!

  6. Hannah says:

    Love the look of the table and chairs. Thinking of getting the same thing! But we have a smaller space. If you kept the table smaller, would two chairs fit on both sides and do the chairs slide in at all?

  7. Wow this looks seriously amazing. I’m looking to do something very similar in my backyard!

  8. Hillary says:

    I have the same chairs on my patio! We cover them in the winter but after 2 summers outside the paint was pretty faded. I ended up just giving them a quick coat of spray paint (I used auto body paint) and that brought the color right back! That was last June and they’ve held up really well since then.

  9. C says:

    Do you have any issues with the dining chairs getting too hot in the sun? They’re cute!

    • Julia says:

      We’ll have to keep you posted! Our deck is relatively shaded throughout the day, but that potential issue is definitely on our radar.

  10. Nihal says:

    Please forgive the crazy auto correct in my previous comment! What I mean to say is what kind of lighting will you use do you think? I’m going crazy trying to decide how to get more light on my patio!

  11. Linda says:

    I have that exact same Trex decking, and while I love it, it does get very hot in direct sun. Like,… too hot to walk on in bare feet. So, an outdoor rug is a good thing to put over Trex. My deck even faces north, but when some parts get direct sun in the afternoon…..Ouch! on barefeet.

    Also, I notice your grill sits close to your vinyl railing. I make sure to pull my grill away from the railing when in use. The heat from the back is actually enough to melt the vinyl!

    Just a couple FYI’s!

  12. obsessed with your deck! I’m all about maintenance free, what a great choice! also, TY for the link! xoxoxoxoxo

  13. Anna says:

    Good job. I am interested if you would have been able to do an attached deck and just elongate the window wells and have custom grates over them that are built into the deck surface? I am considering this myself, so wanted to know if there was some reason its not possible. Also, from your pics, it is hard to tell what the sides near the fences are doing. Is it just one small step worth of a drop, so no steps over there, or is it flush with your fence? And then third, I’d be interested to see your side yard in comparison to the deck. Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      I’ve seen that! In fact, a commenter just posted an example above. It’s definitely possible. We went this route and are happy with it, too. So lots of different options. To answer your other question, the deck goes right up to the fence–maybe an inch of space?–but there are steps leading down to the side yard on either side. Pics of the yard coming!

  14. Fantastic. And great for kids. With my outdoor space I am working on I feel hesitant to use any linens or upholstery. I feel like it’s either really high maintenance to bring them in for weather all the time or they get perpetually damp or mildew-y. Thoughts?

    • Julia says:

      Valid concerns! The sofa is specifically for outdoors, on their site it says both the cushion and fabric is a mildew-resistant poly-fiber. We still bought a cover for it and cover it (and the pillows/throw) every night. We’ll let you know how everything holds up!

  15. Alicia M says:

    Looks amazing!!! I’m interested in seeing the approach from both sides of the deck. How did you handle the stairs? I’d love to see a shot backed up from the grass! You guys have me itching to build a deck now….. :)

  16. Alex says:

    We have Trex decking in the home we purchased and I’m SO thankful for it. I really do not enjoy the reddish color, but when we expand the deck we will have to put the same color in to be cost effective! That is the best choice for your backyard; bravo! Not only does a deck provide such a cool, mess free space for the girls to play, but now you don’t have to weed! Ha! Love love!

  17. Erin says:

    That deck looks awesome! Worth every penny. We added a large deck with composite decking onto our house two years ago and of all the renovations we’ve made (which are numerous) the deck is our favorite thing! It really does add a ton of new square footage to enjoy. We actually built our deck over the window well and had a screen made that sits flush into the decking (and extended the ladder to reach the new deck). http://www.suburbanbitches.com/making-outdoor-area-deck/. I like how you guys dealt with the window well situation to keep light coming into your basement.

  18. Mary says:

    Um, this looks amazing. Eeeee! Can’t wait to see it all styled out.

  19. Abby says:

    beautiful! can’t wait to see it all come together! question re: the lanterns: i’d imagine those will fill up with rainwater when it rains, so do you plan to just never leave candles in them except when using them? was considering similar lanterns for my deck but had wondered about when it rains…

    • Julia says:

      I just ordered some flameless candles for those and I’ll have to keep an eye out for rain. Idaho is actually super dry which is incredibly ironic since it, literally, rained every single day of the deck install. Maybe I can fit them under one of the furniture covers if it does!

  20. Allyson says:

    I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, but have you guys actually had your girls practice using the window well now that there are multiple planters sitting on a board on top of it? Especially since you JUST had a carbon monoxide scare? From here, it looks like she’d have to climb up a ladder and try and push those things out of the way, including the 2×4/chicken wire frame, one handed so she could exit. I totally understand wanting greenery in that space, have you though about a trellis against the house with climbing vines? Something like this https://www.pinterest.com/pin/204913851770892705/ to keep the window wells clear, and probably give you back some of your natural light down there.

    • Julia says:

      We practiced Monday night! The window well isn’t very deep–she’s actually taller than it–so it was very simple for her. Now just to keep her from practicing every day. ;)

      • Jessica says:

        I see a great way for the girls to sneak out of the house when they are older!! ;-)

      • Allyson says:

        Thank you for clearing that up! For whatever reason, I thought she had to climb up a ladder and then try to move the plants out of the way. Hope y’all enjoy the new deck :)

    • Chris says:

      I’ll also add, we’re having a local metal worker create some custom covers for us where this will definitely not be a problem. We’ll show those when they’re done. :)

      • Annie says:

        Oh, awesome. I read the post, went away, had breakfast and came back trying to think of a way to tactfully suggest grates instead. I’m so relieved the railing isn’t permanent. I must say, though, I would have just kept the kids off the deck until the grating is done.

        The rest of your home is so lovely, I’m so relieved those railings aren’t staying!

  21. Sofia says:

    The deck looks great! What a great space for the summer! I think the house color was done before you moved in, but any idea what color paint your house is?

  22. Andrea says:

    That’s exactly what I want to do on it: spin, twirl, eat pizza, and cozy up on the couch!

  23. Ann says:

    Your deck turned out nice! Please don’t ruin it by using a wood-burning fire pit on it though!

  24. Justynn says:

    It looks SOOOOOO good.

  25. Grace says:

    Love the deck! Have you used your firepit on the deck yet? How does the Trex stand up to the heat?

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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