deck + pergola

There are some things that you immediately pick up on about Jordan once you meet him.  He is a hard worker, amazingly talented, and a family man.  Those three qualities show up repeatedly in his everyday life.  For instance, during his lunch break at work (if he takes one), he makes awesome paper airplanes for the kids, or detailed, intricate wands from sticks or swords from driftwood, or he takes a nap and dreams of me (that's his favorite).

Over the entirety of fall and winter, Jordan filled up every nook and cranny of free time trying to finish up a side job as fast as he could.  His hard work earned us some extra moolah and instead of putting it all away, he announced that he wanted to spend some.  Understandably so!!  I wanted him to have a tangible reward for his time away from us and his hard work as well.  So I affirmed that he could and should do as he pleases with his earnings.

Something else you quickly realize about Jordan is that he is a bright-eyed boy in an man's body!  And that means he loves toys!  So I'm thinking that he's going to buy some awesome toy of some sort, maybe a radio-control airplane or a larger drone, a cool Lego model....!  But he decides he is going to do something with the money that'll be a treat for us all.

He decides he's going to transform our deck!

Something we all can enjoy.  Something that'll bring family and friends together.  Something that he's going to have to work at once again.  But isn't that selfless of him?  He decides to treat us all which involves more countless hours of work for him.  I hope our kids learn from him that hard work creates something that lasts, a character trait that is lost on our 'instant-gratification' prone culture today.

So how do we make a deck with a pergola look natural to a mediocre ranch house.  That is the very first task at hand.

He immediately gets to work!  It's early spring.  We plan out and talk out the design as much as we can while we wait for the snow to melt off the deck.  And as soon as the last puddle seeps through the deck boards, we work.   And work, and work.  And the kids work too.  We spend hours and hours all spring long.  When it gets dark, I bring the kids inside and put them to bed, they have school in the morning.  But Jordan continues to work while it's still dark.  Using his chop box til 10:30 at night (probably to our neighbors' indignation!  Sorry neighbors, we're both from the country and we like to pretend that you are a mile away. PS: we never heard any complaints!)  Jordan had promised the girls that he wouldn't do any work for anyone the entire summer and that he would be done working on the deck by the last day of school.

The old deck boards came off, the deck was lowered and properly anchored to the ground, new deck boards are put on, beams are placed overhead for the pergola.  In 65 mph winds, those heavy beams were lifted overhead by Jordan and myself on an afternoon where Jordan was dismissed early due to treacherous outdoor working conditions (but here we are on the tallest rungs of each of our ladders with a very heavy beam overhead.  (Scariest day of my life = this marriage can make it through anything!))  Anyways, Jordan calculates the complicated details and dimensions of a custom built-in couch, figures out how to make storage work under the couch for the cushions, rigs up a proper draining system for the trough beds, wrapping everything in cedar, etc....

I learn so much from him with every new project.  If my life depended on it, I would not be able to figure things out like he does.  Sometimes he would just sit and think for an hour or more on one angle and how that angle would affect everything else.  My favorite part of this process is when I would get him a piece of paper for the pencil behind his ear and after sitting for all that time, he would get up and make it all come together.  I'd look at the paper expecting that he would have all these dimensions written down and maybe some doodles but there'd literally be one number written, that's it!

And on the very last day of school, true to his word, Jordan stopped working.  There is still some work to be done but for now, he is done because he is going to keep his promise.  And it is awesome!!  I am so happy with how it turned out!  With such comfortable weather this summer, we have dined out there often, it's home to my Sunday afternoon naps, birthday parties and gatherings with friends, snuggles, and even slow dances on date night!  We have a stereo system hooked up, the lights, and the shade... it's perfect!!

I'm amazed by Jordan, not just his carpentry skills but by his dedication to projects and to us!  Here is the (almost!) finished product:

We knew we wanted a lot of seating and seating that allows for lounging.  And we wanted the deck and the pergola to look natural and integrated, something that wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb on our 1950's ranch house.  We found cushions that we liked from Target and we built the sofa around them, knowing that they are a standard size that can be replaced if necessary.  We used cedar to prevent rotting.  The hardest part for Jordan was building the sofa... getting the angles right and also incorporating a trough to go around back for some foliage.  You can't see it of course, but the inside of the trough has cut-outs for drainage and the underside of that is built on a slope where it can drain and water out of another concealed hole.  I love the attention to details, too!
A simple detail but perfect: the way he trimmed the arm of the sofa:)
Jordan also made some waterproof storage for all of these cushions and it's built in right below.  I like that the sofa looks nice even without cushions.

And of course, some 'before' and 'progress' pictures:)

our garden became the workshop.