Tips for deck or patio decor and design for the ultimate outdoor oasis! Our deck renovation before and after transformation using solid stain.
If you have the extra space, why not take advantage of it? Creating an outdoor space for lounging and relaxing is what dreams are made of right? Soak in all of the sunshine, watch the kids play in, the backyard, catch up on a good read, sip on some fine wine — now that’s what summer is all about.
Here are tips for you to turn your backyard into an outdoor oasis that you can enjoy for years to come, all summer long. From choosing the right deck stain to transform your deck, to patio furniture, design, and decor.
Related: Father’s Day Gift Guide – 25 Amazon Finds
Solid Deck Stain
There are many ways to transform a deck using deck stain. You can either use a translucent stain, semi-transparent stain, or a solid stain (like a solid paint colour you’d use for inside your home) that doesn’t show any wood grain at all.
If you are dealing with a newly built deck that has not been stained, you would want the natural grain to show through. You also need to figure out what kind of wood you have. Whether it’s pine, spruce, or cedar, you’ll want to test out the stain on a small portion to see how the colour is absorbed before applying it to the whole entire deck.
In our case, we were working with a deck built in the nineties that already had a red solid stain all over it. We pressure washed the deck to remove as much of the red paint as possible. This only worked for the flooring, but did not remove paint from the railings. And because there were cracks in some of the wood, we decided to go for full coverage with a solid stain.
If you need to paint on top of a stain, you will need to use a solid stain to successfully cover it.
We used two cans of Olympic Summit Wood Stain and Sealant in Timberline.
Be sure to measure your square footage, accounting for any railings and outside skirting, so you have enough cans of paint for coverage. Sweep and clean with a pressure washer prior to applying, and make sure it’s a hot and sunny day for quick drying. You may also want to sand down any rough spots and ledges with an electric sander.
Solar Post Lights
To transform our nineties outdated deck, we removed the colonial style post tops and screwed on a set of 8 black solar post lights that made the railings look sleek while setting the mood at night for a more relaxing atmosphere.
We went for 4×4 inch solar post lights that have a neutral white light, and are dim enough to not attract bugs and moths (especially when you up north with a lot of forestry like us!). And if you’re really concerned about bugs, you can always go with yellow tinted lights that are meant to repel them.
Ambient Deck Lighting
If you don’t have wooden railing posts, you could add solar powered string lights or the plug in string lights to really make it cozy with vintage vibes. We have a pole for hanging laundry that we could use to mount hanging lights on, but if we didn’t have that we would have to extend one of the corner deck posts to hang lights on. Try to hang them in a zigzag pattern from your house roof to the end of your deck or under your gazebo.
Other ways of adding ambience to your deck or patio would be to include citronella candles to repel mosquitoes, LED waterproof candles and solar lanterns around furniture and seating areas. Light up pathways, walkways, and gardens with solar lights that you can easily stick into the ground.
Outdoor Sectional, Dining, and Seating
Decide of what kind of seating will be best for your family. Will you be hosting family and friends frequently? Do you prefer to eat and lounge with food and drink outside? Will you host outdoor kids birthday parties? If so, you’ll want a patio dining set with enough seating for your family, and perhaps a few extra chairs for guests.
Do you want to enjoy movie night or game night out on your deck? You may want a comfy outdoor sectional for comfort and lounging.
We have the Tofino Outdoor Sectional from Canadian Tire (similar version here at Home Depot) and I personally love to use it for working from home, enjoying a coffee outside, watching the kids play in the backyard from our deck, and kicking my feet up to relax. We also use it for movie night in conjunction with our Cinemood, projector screen, and bluetooth speaker for quality sound. You could also mount a waterproof, weatherproof outdoor TV for game nights!
An outdoor sectional is great for bringing your living room or recreation room to the outdoors. It creates the perfect extra living space for you and your family.
If you’re looking for durability, try these Adirondack Muskoka Chairs made out of high quality durable recycled plastic, with a weight capacity of 500 pounds! They are perfect for lounging and enjoying drinks in the sunshine or if you need extra seating for guests. They’re easy to wipe clean!
If you have a lot of greenery surrounding your deck or outdoor living space like we do, you may be prone to excessive amounts of seeds, pollen, and other droppings from trees.
Use a leaf blower to clean a large deck or patio area in no time instead or constantly sweeping. The leaf blower helps to clear off your outdoor furniture sets with ease.
Gazebo or Umbrella
Not only would a gazebo or umbrella provide shade for you and your family, it also allows for keeping your deck and outdoor furniture dry and clean. Our backyard faces north and doesn’t get sun all day, so we prefer to have an umbrella and Square Cast Iron Umbrella Base that we can move around our deck accordingly.
For more coverage, go with a 10 foot offset umbrella and a sand or water filled base to withstand high winds.
If you don’t like the hassle of putting your outdoor cushions in a wicker storage bin every time it rains (to prevent mildew), or propping them sideways to dry after a storm, you may want a gazebo to keep it all dry, so you can enjoy your deck rain or shine.
Since we live in Northern Ontario, we would personally go with an aluminum hardtop gazebo that does not need to be taken apart and stored away in the wintertime. It can withstand all weather types including snow, hail, and high winds. They also usually include privacy curtains, if that’s something you’re looking for, as well as netting to secure the space all around keeping insects out.
You can also use a grill gazebo hardtop to cover and protect your outdoor kitchen or BBQ area.
Outdoor Rug or Carpet
Having kids, I’m all for having an outdoor rug or carpet to keep dirt out of the house. Just like when I talked about our awning rug for our camping trailer. It’s more enjoyable to go without shoes on your deck and not have splinters in tiny feet from running around shoeless in the summertime.
I recently snagged a black and white 8×10 diamond patterned outdoor rug that goes great with our neutral sectional and umbrella.
The rug we have in front of our back door going into the house is a 3×5 ft geometric cream outdoor rug. Using this allows for shoes to be left outside, or for wiping feet before coming into the house. Cream works instead of white as you don’t see dirt!
Planters, Flowers, and Greenery
Nothing feels more like a resort than some beautiful greenery and flowers to set the scene. You can go with black plastic planters or a set of three planters to display some palm trees, ferns, or exotic flowers.
Depending on whether your have full sun on your deck or not, you may want to opt for a faux plant that can handle your specific sunlight situation. My ferns don’t do well in full sun, so I keep them in a partially shaded area, and I’ll place a artificial plant in full sun so I don’t have to worry about our plants drying out quickly.
I love placing planters at either side of our front door or back door, at the bottom of our deck steps, on either side of our outdoor sectional, beside a side table, on either side of our patio walkway, and on either side of our garage door.
Again, if you have a tall post for hanging laundry for example, you can easily hook a big beautiful pot of flowers up top to be in clear view. Mount these metal planter hooks to a post, beside your house door or garage door to hang flowers.
Propane Heater or Fire Table
The summers may be hot, but they sure are short here in the north. That’s way to soak up the outdoors as much as we can in the warmer months.
When sun goes down, we’ll resort to hanging around the campfire in our backyard. Though not everyone has a fire pit or would rather stay on their back deck in the evening for whatever reason. That’s when a propane heater comes in handy.
Alternatively, you can opt for a fire table that runs on propane to heat up your seating area. This way, you don’t have to worry about an actual fire close to your wooden deck. It’s safe to roast marshmallows while you’re cozying up on your outdoor sectional with a blanket.
Affordable Hot Tub
Father’s Day is coming up and an inflatable hot tub is the perfect gift for dad to relax on his deck or patio this summer. For more outdoor gift ideas, read the post.
An inflatable hot tub is on our list to add to our deck, right in the corner where our privacy screens are. They are much more affordable than a hard hot tub, and they offer the same type of jets for relaxing after a long day. The best part is that they can be stored away in the winter or moved to different places in your yard or taken along when you go to the cottage or camping.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, a plug-and-play hot tub is also convenient since you can literally just fill it, plug it in, and it’s ready to go. It can be more aesthetically pleasing on a deck or patio, and they offer more features like a waterfall, cupholders, and led lighting.
BBQ or Outdoor Kitchen
We love sharing recipes on the blog and that includes wholesome and healthy, homemade cooked meals. Even when it’s too hot to cook, we take out food prep outside and spend a lot of time grilling in the summer months.
A good stainless steel propane BBQ is built to last. Depending on the size of your family, consider a 4-burner for a family of four or more. If you have a small deck space, you can use a portable BBQ like a Weber Q1200 that we love to bring with us to the lake and when RV camping.
Some of my most popular recipes on the grill include Garlic Parmesan Grilled Eggplant, Grilled Salmon Cucumber Salad, Meat and Vegetable Grilled Kabobs, and Jalapeño and Cheddar Stuffed Bacon Cheeseburgers.
We all know that the price of lumbar is through the roof at the moment, and so we opted for a metal privacy fence in the corner of our deck, where we intend to eventually put a hot tub.
We love that a metal fence can be folded and positioned for your specific needs. They can be screwed down into your deck which makes them super durable, especially during windy days. Simply remove the screws and store the fences away for the winter which will prolong the life of the fences.
If you notice any rust underneath peeling paint or where the hinges are, spray on some WD-40 to remove it.
Privacy Trees or Hedges
In addition to a privacy fence, it would be a good idea to plant some trees or hedges as early as possible. Keep in mind, hedges need more maintenance, since you need to cut them to your desired shape.
We are lucky to have beautiful pines, spruces and maples surrounding our property. But when it comes to covering a gap between you and your neighbours, fast growing evergreen conifers like black or white cedar trees will do the trick. Especially if you have a deck or patio low to the ground. If your deck is higher up, refer back to privacy fences.
Once planted, and after a year of setting in, they begin to grow rapidly — about one to two feet a year! They also grow up to 30 feet high, depending on the type of cedar you plant.
You can support your local garden centre by ordering from them. Ask for what their delivery fees are, if you want to go with a taller tree to begin with. We started with 5 foot cedars. Keep in mind, the more mature, the taller they are and the more expensive they are.
I also love the idea of planting a garden of big, beautiful sunflowers. They shoot up nice and tall which is great for added privacy, but only for a short while — towards the end of the summer.
Related: 50 Family Camping Must-Haves for an RV Trailer or Camper
Our Deck Reno Before and After
Here are the before and afters of our updated deck!
I’d love to know if this inspired you on creating your own outdoor oasis for the summer season ahead. Is there anything else you would add to the list?
Shop The Post
Pressure Washer – 1800 Psi Electric Pressure Washer
Solid Deck Stain – Olympic Summit Wood Stain and Sealant in Timberline
Solar Post Lights – 4×4″ Solar Post Lights
BBQ – Kenmore 4 Burner Stainless BBQ Propane Grill with Side Burner
Metal Privacy Fence – Rona Allen + Roth Privacy Screen (similar here)
Rug – 7×9 Diamond Outdoor Rug
Outdoor Sectional – Tofino Sectional Canvas Collection at Canadian Tire (similar set here, and here)
Market Umbrella – 7.5 ft Market Umbrella
Umbrella Stand – Square Cast Iron Umbrella Base
Planters – Black Plastic Planters
Lantern – Wooden Lantern (Similar styles here, here, and here)
To place in lanterns – Waterproof Outdoor LED Candles
Outdoor Cushions – Ivory Outdoor Throw Pillow (similar styles here, here, and here)
Muskoka Chairs – Recycled Plastic Heavy Duty Adirondack Chairs
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