Before and after: A back deck makeover on a shoestring budget

With DIYs and secondhand finds, this back deck makeover optimizes sunset views on the cheap.

Back Deck Makeover
(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

Interior Swag blogger Heather Cooke craved a back deck makeover that would allow her family to take advantage of their property's woodsy surrounds and sunset view. "We love the outdoors and being outside, so we wanted to create a space in the back of the house that was welcoming and great for entertaining, as well as for our personal family use," Cooke says.

Not surprisingly, the interior designer approached the project as she would any other "room" in the house, filling it out with curtains, rugs, and comfortable places to sit. Of course, this recessionista wasn't willing to spend a fortune decorating the space. Instead, the thrifty blogger combined secondhand finds with affordable DIYs to keep costs low.

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The before

Back Deck Makeover

(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

There was nothing wrong with Cooke's pre-makeover back deck. But with only a few drab pieces of furniture, there wasn't anything special about it either. 

"We used the back deck before the renovation, but it was more of less a hodgepodge of furniture and kids' toys. We saw the potential in it," the Interior Swag designer remembers. "It's a small space, but perfect for a seating area, small table, and some other accent pieces, and I wanted it to feel cozy."

The positioning of the deck boasts a great sunset view, and Cooke wanted a bright, welcoming space to take in the sight. First thing's first, she got to work pressure treating and sealing the dreary, unfinished wood.

The process

Back Deck Makeover

(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

With a newly brightened blank slate to begin with, Cooke got to work making curtains. Along with giving the deck a homey feel, they serve an important function. "The afternoon sun beams down onto the porch and it gets very hot in the summer, so I had to come up with a budget-friendly idea for curtains to block the sun in the afternoon," Cooke explains. "We have French doors leading out to the porch right off of the kitchen and dining room, so my girls like to play out there while I cook. The curtains really help block the sun and make the space cooler."

The blogger's budget-friendly solution? Drop cloths purchased from Walmart. Cooke bought two 6x9 drop cloths, washed and dried them, and cut them down the middle, lengthwise. For a layered look, the designer folded the top of the cloths about 21 inches, and secured them with curtain ring clips. Finally, she mounted them to the deck with inexpensive rods

To keep the curtains from mildewing, Cooke brings them inside when heavy rain is expected. The designer also created a shabby-chic coffee table by attaching a wood pallet atop castors for easy moving. 

The details

Back Deck Makeover

(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

To furnish the deck, the designer headed to Facebook Marketplace. She was able to source brand new Target chairs (originally $405) for $150. Cooke also found an egg swing chair, a family and personal favorite. "It is also one of my most treasured Facebook Marketplace finds that I purchased for only $75, originally $679 on Wayfair," she adds. 

Then, to really make the deck feel like its own room, the blogger added a round accent rug under the swing and a larger rug to accent the coffee table. Finally, Cooke finished the space with comforts of home including throw pillows and a cozy jute poof. Overhead, a rattan solar pendant and industrial cage lamp combine to make a statement chandelier. 

Ann Loynd Burton

After serving as an editor for luxury publications for nearly a decade, Ann Loynd Burton struck out on her own as a freelance writer covering design and lifestyle. Along with her work highlighting decor trends for Real Homes, Loynd Burton has covered interiors for such publications as Apartment TherapyAspireCottages & Gardens, and Galerie