By Tessa Tokke
This summer, my family and I moved from New York City to the Lower Hudson Valley. Our new house has three levels of decks, which is quite a welcome change from my shabby pre-war apartment in South Brooklyn. My new decks overlook the Hudson River, and at peak fall foliage time, the view will be spectacular!
But as always with a new house, there are tons of projects that need to get done, bit by bit. One of my projects this week was my roof deck. Our thought is that the main level deck is for classy dining and entertaining, and the roof deck is the “party spot.” But in the condition I found it, the only party happening up there would be for the spiders and squirrels. There was dirt and lichen everywhere!
Armed with a bucket and a huge bottle of bleach, I marched up the two flights of spiral stairs, ready to face my task! (Tip: If you’re building your own house, avoid putting in spiral stairs. They look cool, but are not worth the hassle of hauling things up and down!)
Cleaning your Deck
When you don’t own a power washer (which, by the way, is highly recommended), some good old-fashioned elbow grease is necessary. The good news is that bleach takes care of most spots, like the awful corner by the sliding door, as seen above. What you should do is spray bleach on as many surfaces as you can and let it sit for a few minutes. While it’s setting, fill up a bucket with a mixture of water and bleach. Grab your scrub brush and go to town! My deck was doubly bad because this house had been sitting empty for several years, so the nasty green stuff had really gotten onto the siding, mostly on the shady part. You may need to go over spots several times. It’s hard work, but worth it!
The door (which leads to the house fan) definitely needs painting, and the trim around it needs replacing. If you paint or replace something outside, be sure to use materials that are meant to withstand the weather.
Spruce it up with Lighting!
The next step after cleaning and drying out the deck is to put up lighting while the furniture is still out of the way. This may involve untangling a massive spaghetti ball of lights for an hour.
(I took this picture when I was already three-quarters of the way through the detangling process. Yeesh!)
I ended up wrapping colorful lights around the edge of the porch. The large bulbs have cute little tin house perched on top! You can choose a variety of ways to do your lighting, depending on the size and shape of your deck. One thought would be to criss-cross your lights above the whole deck for a very festive feel.
There was also an unfortunate incident where I dropped a string of expensive large bulbs, and it shattered all over the deck! Make sure you sufficiently secure your lights to your house to avoid this:
Instead of the beautiful (broken) lights, I used clear lights from Christmas along the sides of the deck. I attached them to the house using bungee cords. Hooks would be better if you have them, but use whatever you have around the house and save your money for cuter design features, like shiny, breakable strings of lights!
Placing your Furniture
The next step is the best part: arranging your furniture. This is where you really start to see what your space looks like. I decided that color is better for this deck, especially as the designated party spot. I found a cute stripy rug, placed it in the center, and organized the furniture around it. If I had more sectional pieces, I would have cornered the couch, but for now, straight is fine. It’s best to place your couch first, and the rest of the furniture in proximity to that. I also added some red accent pieces, such as the lantern and the wrought iron table, spray painted red.
At night, the lights transform the space into a cozy hangout place that’s perfect for a glass of wine and chatting with friends. I think a wine bar is in this deck’s future! Of course, turn out the lights for a beautiful glimpse of the stars. Enjoy your own deck, and let us know how you made out in the comments below!
Images used with permission, courtesy of Tessa Tokke and www.shutterstock.com