Our Pre-Reno Renovation

Kendall K.
by Kendall K.
In my previous post "A New Exterior on an Old House", I was asked a few times how I chose the classic burgundy for the color. Here's what I did to make sure it was the right color!
The back of our house in 2013
I think I should start with some of the background story. When we bought our house, I knew right away I wanted it to be burgundy (the roof of the house was brown so that limited some of the color options). My hubby wasn't so sure and it literally took 6 months of convincing him lol!

How I finally got him to agree was offer to do a "test run" of the color on the back of the house. At first he said I couldn't paint the back of the house a different color. When I smiled sweetly at him and said "Why not? We own this place and could paint every side a different color if we wanted". He just stopped, blinked a couple times and replied "you're right! We can do whatever we want!"

As you can see, the back of our house was pretty ugly. There was this weird patio where the only access was a door from the kitchen. The cement posts were cracked and not safe, so we were scared to use it. To the right was an overgrown rock garden that was pretty useless. Overall, the back of the house was a complete waste of space and was about to become our first project and color test!

I knew I wanted a small deck and improve the condition and access to that patio. I thought an awning would be a nice touch too. I'm a visual person so I started sketching. This turned out to be a great idea because I used it as part of the process in finding a contractor/handyman. And what a process it would be!
My concept sketch
We ended up interviewing 5 different contractors. All but one tried to get me to do more than I wanted and would go way over my $2500 budget. One wanted me to put an awning the entire length of the house that would cost $7000! I found out later he also owned the awning company he "recommended"!

The guy I ended up hiring (Mark) had great references and was the only one who looked at the sketch, nodded, explained some structural options and said we could easily create my "nirvana" within or even under budget! AND he loved the idea of testing the color on the back because it would be easy enough to fix later if we hated it. Little did I know, this was the beginning of a long relationship and Mark would be the guy for all my projects. He did the stuff I couldn't do (or didn't want to do) myself.

Now the first step was finding the right paint color and awning. Turns out I found both at the local home improvement store and Mark and his helper started painting! The first coat scared the hell out of me because it was VERY red! It took 3 coats and turned out perfect!
Patio railings are gone & first coat applied!
We attached the awning to a wood plank (that I stained the same color as the deck) to make it easier to attach to the stucco wall. Oh and I found the awning for $189 NOT thousands as I was quoted by that other contractor!
While the guys were doing the stairs and porch, I worked on clearing out the rock garden
I decided to turn it into a small veggie garden that didn't require full sun.
Here it is a couple months later!
I also cleared out the back corner garden and had Mark build a couple raised beds for me that I stained.
Back corner garden
Raised garden beds
I also painted the one side of the garage that faced into the back yard because it looked funny not being done. I learned then how icky painting stucco is! It's a pain!
The guys are pretty much done! Here's the before picture...
And after!!
Mark built the stairs and hand railing, replaced the upper railings, reinforced the posts below the patio and created a storage space by enclosing it. Mark built the perfect deck and stained it. We recoated the ugly cement patio with some roll on stone and added a small patio umbrella. My nirvana is complete, looks almost identical to my sketch and was under budget! Also now we knew we LOVED the classic burgundy and would do the rest of the house the same color!
The back of the house was done in 2013 and is holding up beautifully. We waited 11 months to stain the deck because you need to let new wood cure before staining apparently. We will have to do another coat this year on the deck just as maintenance. Here's how it looked before we stained.
Before staining
I adore my back yard now! It truly is my nirvana.
Strawberries, raspberries & blueberries
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 14 questions
  • Virginia Virginia on Dec 02, 2016
    Beautful! You mention 'roll on stone ' what is it and where might I find it? I have ugly ,ugly asphalt front paths and would like to cover them I dont have energy or money to dig them out!

  • Cynthia Potts Cynthia Potts on Dec 11, 2016
    Where did you get the Awning frame? You purchased the fabric? or a it was a standard sized kit?

  • Michele in Nashville Michele in Nashville on May 11, 2019

    Where can i find A mark🤔🤗

Join the conversation
2 of 143 comments
  • Louise Louise on Feb 22, 2017
    Wow its gorgeous well done for all your hard work & vision. Also cujos to you for not being bullied into a decision you didn't want by those selfish salesmen, I take my hat off to you x

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Apr 10, 2017
    This is STUNNING!

    If you ever find a need for a larger deck, it would be simple and not so costly to build the deck out further (covering part of the walkway) and put a ramp from that glass door at the lower level and one at the other end to connect with the walkway that would not be covered (this would eliminate the need for a step for people to stumble over...put a short railing on both ends to remind people of a ramp...this could be made of plumbing pipe.) It is always good to make improvements that leaves you future options! Great planning!