going au natural.

Welcome to the third installment of my house tour.  I had originally planned to go in order with the rooms (because I tend to be a organized, linear sort of thinker) , which would have meant that the piano room was next.

But I have a big project planned for that room in the coming weeks, so instead today I’m going to share my ‘outside room’ otherwise known as the deck.

Do you have a wooden deck?  I’m not gonna lie, I think maintaining a wood deck is one of the most annoying chores.  Our deck is made out of cedar and we’ve tried several different sealer/weather-proofing products over the years and none of them have lived up to my expectations.

Now, granted, Minnesota weather can be pretty harsh.  And we enter our house via the deck, so it gets a lot of wear and tear year round.

But so far every product we have used has looked not so great within a year, and downright crappy within two.

So this year we decided to go back to basics.  Mr. Q put in hours and hours of stripping, power washing and using brighteners to un-do the damage caused by the various products we’d applied over the years.  Before you get all excited and think that I’m about to reveal a miracle deck product that you should all run out and buy, think again.  In fact, once he had finished all of that work, we decided to just try going au natural this time around.

We are accepting our own limitations, following the maxim ‘know thyself’, knowing full well that we won’t keep up with the regular maintenance required for a good looking finish on our deck.  Since our deck is made of cedar though, we are going to just let it weather naturally for a year and see how we feel about that look.  After all, if we end up hating it, we can always get out the pressure washer and do it all over again.

In addition to Mr. Q cleaning up the wood decking itself, I also freshened up the patio furniture this summer.

You’ve already seen the Adirondack chairs that our handyman/neighbor Ken made for us.  One is brand new, and one we’ve had for several years, but I gave both of them a fresh coat of RustOleum spray paint in a color called Eden.

Oh hey, speaking of the chairs, here’s a photo I shared after painting them back at the beginning of July and it shows the ‘before’ state of the decking.  That gives you an idea of where Mr. Q was starting.

Yeah, definitely not great, huh?

And here are the chairs on the newly stripped decking.

Definitely an improvement.

In addition to having a great eye when it comes to garage sale finds, my picker Sue can also sew.  So I asked her to sew up some simple drop cloth slipcovers for my cushions for the dining set on my deck this summer as well.  They are just simple pillow sham style covers that allow me to slip the cushions in and out which makes it easy to wash them if necessary.

Initially I was going to stencil them with some of my European grain sack style stencils.  However, the throw pillows that I already had for the chairs have French writing on them so it seemed like that would be a bit much.  Instead I simply stenciled them with just the grain sack stripes.

I used Dixie Belle paint in Gravel Road, a grain sack stripe stencil and a fabulously large stencil brush from the Prima Marketing re.design line.

That brush with its big ball handle is easy to hold and the size made quick work of stenciling that wide stripe.

And I love how they turned out.

Now the chairs are much more ‘me’.

The throw pillows came from Restoration Hardware quite a few years back.  They had a bit of a story behind them too.  I purchased them online at a sale price without really paying attention to the measurements.  As it turned out they were far too wide for my chairs.  So once again Sue came to my rescue and modified them to fit.

They’ve held up pretty well over the years, all except this one.

I store these upstairs in the carriage house over the winter, and last spring when I pulled them out this one had this gaping hole.  I hate to say it, but I suspect mice chewed that hole.

So while I was working on the slip covers for the seats, I decided to create a patch for this hole.  I started by stenciling a scrap of the same drop cloth fabric used for the cushions.

Then I just sewed it in place behind the hole.

I’m quite sure that some of you are going to think I’m totally nuts, but now this is my favorite of the pillows.  I adore that little union jack patch job.  Unfortunately, it barely even shows when the pillow is in place on a chair.

Oh well.  I know it’s there, maybe that’s all that counts, right?

You may have noticed that I moved my rusty planters up to either side of the door.  It’s easier to see their fabulously rusty patina up on the deck.

I still have my house number plate hanging below the porch light.

I did this ages ago.  I used my Cricut machine to cut the ‘no. 6041’ out of adhesive vinyl and then stuck it to an ironstone platter.  I have to confess, I’m surprised it has held up as beautifully as it has.  I leave it there year round, take it down and wash it occasionally, and it still looks just like it did on day one.

Speaking of whether or not things hold up, remember the metal picnic basket that I added a Prima Marketing transfer to?  It’s also holding up quite well out in the elements despite not being sealed with anything at all.

I think how well the transfers hold up outdoors is entirely dependent upon what kind of surface you put them on.  This is a very smooth metal surface, although it is rusting in spots, the finish isn’t peeling or flaking underneath the transfer.  Plus I got a really good seal (ie. no air bubbles at all) with the transfer over the smooth surface of the metal.  I think a transfer on glass (or on a china plate) would also hold up really well outside.  However, you might get a different result with a transfer placed over a rougher surface like painted wood, unfinished barn wood or something like that.

That monster of a shrub beside the deck is a Limelight hydrangea.

Well, technically it’s two of them.  I planted them there to provide some extra privacy for our dining area and I never expected them to get so huge.    They provide a ‘wall’ on that end of the deck which makes it feel secluded and cozy.  As an added bonus it provides tons of dried hydrangeas to use in my window boxes for fall and winter.

You may have noticed that lump of something on one of the chairs in the photo above.

Lucy is once again up to her photo bombing ways.  She likes sleeping out here almost as much as the front porch.  She seems to be drawn like a magnet to anything that is freshly upholstered.

By the way, in case you are wondering why the Limelight hydrangea flowers look so green on the bush, while the ones in the ironstone pitcher on the table look creamier, that’s because the ones in the pitcher are Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas.  I have one of those over by the carriage house.  The flowers start out fairly white but turn pinker over time.

Mr. Q and I have quite a few dinners out on our deck in the summer so it’s nice to finally have it all spruced up.

Now we can just focus on relaxing and enjoying it for the rest of the summer, while it lasts.

Next on our tour I’ll take you inside the photo cottage, so be sure to check back next Wednesday.

36 thoughts on “going au natural.

  1. I had a deck like yours and the same problem with various finishes I used to make it look decent. I ended up tearing it down and put in a poured stamped concrete patio. The only maintenance is power washing 2x a year and sweeping off leaves etc. I love your home!
    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Your backdeck looks so inviting. Cedar is lovely but have you considered composite deck boards? Our friends have had it on their deck for 15 years and I looks as perfect as the day they had it done. I am not a big fan of using plastics but if your deck doesn’t hold up it may be a solution It is quite nice on the feet and not slippery. Anyways your deck and decor looks perfect!


    1. When we put this deck in we really wanted to go with the composite decking. But then we priced it and found it was about 3 times the cost of cedar. We just couldn’t swing it. I’ve heard that the price of cedar has gone up, and the price of composite has come down putting them a little closer in cost these days, so maybe next time!


  3. Looks marvelous! I love seeing Lucy, she’s so pretty! It is way too humid here in Indiana to eat outside. I have yet to sit out on our screened porch. I have sat on the front porch, but not for long. Is your area humid in the summer? I am so looking forward to fall!


  4. The deck turned out lovely! Elbow grease is pretty amazing. Loving your cozy spot and hope the weather cooperates for you to enjoy it long into the fall!


  5. I love your yard and all of your plants and flowers. I should have grabbed a few hydrangeas when I was over last week.


  6. I love the bare wood on deck Linda! It looks beautiful there! I wish I had your carriage house, maybe someday we can build one. I have done patches on grain sacks too because many of them seem to have holes from use over the years!


  7. I’m currently doing a screen porch/deck addition for a client and they were adamant about using Trex. Having a treated wood deck and pergola myself I totally understand not wanting any maintenance. On the other hand I just prefer real wood. Here in the south you’re going to have to pressure wash it anyway once a year. I love yours in the
    “au naturel” state. The entire scene with color of the house, the natural deck and the eden chairs is perfection. I love the unexpected grain sak look with pop of color in those adirondaks. Do you serve Fuzzy Navels?


  8. Your deck’s so cozy Miss Quandie……and your hydrangeas are so beautiful and voluptuous! Do the bushes stay green in the winter once the flowers are gone?


    1. Nope, they sure don’t. They lose all of their leaves. Although I harvest tons of flowers from them to use dried in my flower boxes for winter, there are still lots of flowers left on the bushes even though there aren’t any leaves. I leave those there for the winter to add some interest to the garden. You can see how that looks in this post. Just look for the photo of our grill covered in snow. The hydrangea is there to the left.


  9. It’s a great outdoor space. I agree about stain and decks. Ours only looks good after being freshly stained/sealed. The very next season it’s terrible again. Love the patched pillow!


    1. All of the various products available make so many promises, but I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t have to be maintained every year. We’ll see how we feel about the natural look after another year goes by. I expect we’ll have to pressure wash it periodically to keep the mildew at bay, but I think we can handle that.


    1. Thanks Monica. We spend quite a bit of time out on the deck in summer. It’s really starting to feel like fall here this week though, so I feel as though our evenings on the deck are definitely numbered.


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