Decorating the Deck

Banish the blahs and give your deck a colorful, jazzed-up look without a lot of fuss.
Alice Welsh Doyle

Sometimes we're so busy decorating the inside of our homes that we neglect the outside––a porch, patio, or deck is often last on the list. A spruced-up outdoor area, however, will give you additional living space for family fun and entertaining.

Seating Solution
Ample seating is a must for any gathering space. For these homeowners, a plastic table and chairs meant they only used the deck for an occasional meal. Now, with benches, enjoying spring days is a breeze. These pieces, sized to fit the space, and a buffet were made entirely from pressure-treated 2 x 4s and galvanized deck nails. They were stained to match the deck. As an alternative, leave them to weather naturally. Pressure-treated wood is the least expensive outdoor wood option. However, other materials could also be used. The benches have a built-in look but can be moved to clean the deck. All materials for both benches and the buffet cost less than $100.

Cushions were added for comfort and color. Solid outdoor fabrics in primary hues were less expensive than patterned selections. The fabrics were pieced together to create a custom look. Two square floor cushions provide additional seating for children. The homeowners also added some iron outdoor chairs for more stable seating than the plastic ones. They kept the plastic table and cover it when entertaining.

Handy Buffet
The same bench plan was used to make a buffet; they simply doubled the height from 18 to 36 inches and added a shelf below for storage. The shelf is the perfect spot to store an ice chest year-round, but it also comes in handy when the couple has friends over. The skirt, attached to the buffet with a simple tension rod, is crafted from the same primary-colored fabrics pieced together for a striped look.

It hides the storage shelf and gives the buffet style. For entertaining at night, lamps made from red gazing balls are brought outside. Barrel shades with painted blue stripes and yellow finials complete the look.

Fun Floor
A painted cloth adds color to the deck's surface. The cloth was treated with an outdoor primer, and then it was taped off in a grid pattern and spray-painted red and yellow. After the paint dried, the tape was removed to show the white border. As a last step, the cloth was topped off with a marine-grade varnish. It doubles as a tic-tac-toe board with spray-painted clay pot saucers as markers. A glass table placed on top is lightweight enough to move if you want to play a game.

Beauty on a Budget
Affordable details make this deck shine even more. An inexpensive quilt covers the plastic table. Simple tiki torches with pillar candles were painted red and tied to the deck with garden twine so they can be removed and stored when not in use. Large glass vases serve as candleholders. For color, the vases were filled with red, white, and blue aquarium sand.

Indoor plants were brought outside for some fresh air, sunshine, and visual appeal. A Boston fern hangs under the umbrella, giving it another dimension without any additional cost. Inexpensive galvanized buckets are perfect for holding iced beverages.

For entertaining, kitchen towels serve as napkins and shower curtain rings double as napkin holders. Mix the towels with plastic plates and cups in several colors. The variety of options makes putting together a custom look easy and fun.

Outdoor Fabrics
While all-weather material is designed to be fade-proof and stain-resistant, you still need to take proper care of it. Keep in mind that white, yellow, and other light colors show wear faster than darker ones. Regular cleaning will keep substances from building up and becoming embedded in the fabric. Brush off any loose debris, and then clean with warm (not hot) water and a mild soap solution. Cushions should be stored indoors during the off-season.