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Casa Soria Reveal: Orlando’s Parents’ Deck Is Done (+ Get the Look)

*** Written by Orlando Soria | Photography by Zeke Ruelas

There have been a number of things that bothered me about my parents’ house since they moved in, but none irked me more than the awful corrugated metal-roof deck that sat off the family room previous to the kitchen renovation (see before pics below and read more about it here). When they moved in, they really didn’t plan on changing much. So I’d kind of come to terms with the fact that the hideous deck was probably going to be burning my eyes forever. Enter the angels from Humboldt Redwood Company, who approached me about a collaboration and ended up sponsoring this whole thing. I was obviously grateful to get to hook up my parents with a free new deck because they’re the best orMOMdo and orlandDAD any orBLOGdo could ask for.

Due to the expansion of the kitchen into the area previously occupied by part of the old deck, it had to be torn down and completely rebuilt. So it was the perfect time to scrap the old one and start fresh. The tiny one issue was that I’d never designed a deck before and I had two parents with conflicting styles (I swear, orMOMdo and orlanDAD would have been the perfect contestants on “Secrets From a Stylist”). My dad likes the more traditional craftsman style while my mom is more into contemporary. And their Frankenstein of a house (which I’m basically trying to turn into a contemporary meets traditional fantasyland) provided few clues as to what style of shade structure belonged.

As I said in my planning post, the main inspiration for this deck/shade structure came from a love of slatted rooftops and a gorgeous image of Kelly Ripa’s New York terrace. My goal with this design was to be as simple and open as possible. To let in as much light and views of the redwood trees as possible while also providing a cozy place to hang out. And, I wanted the design to be as simple as possible. My design motto, which I scream at clients constantly, is the following: The simplest solution is usually the best solution. I definitely put that into practice here.

I’m pretty in love with how the finished product turned out:

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But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s begin at the beginning. Check my previous Hommemaker post and my previous post on here to get all the dirty details of what this place looked like until very recently. The deck was a creaky old platform jutting out into the backyard on stilts. It was dark (and for some strange reason painted brown). But my parents loved it. Mostly because they’re not huge jerks like I am.

Parents Deck Before Pic1

The Casa Soria backyard is pretty small, partially because the lot size isn’t huge but also because of the giant redwoods that surround the house. While these trees take up quite a bit of real estate, my parents love them because they provide awesome shade and privacy in the backyard. My parents aren’t that into yard work so this small space suits them. However, because the deck structure was going to be so small, I wanted both the upper and lower areas to be efficiently designed so they could get the most out of them. The upper portion is a lounge area/off-kitchen grill and the lower portion is an outdoor dining area used mostly when my parents have company.

Deck Inspiration

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You may remember the exterior of the house was beige before. Because we had to paint the whole back of the house during the kitchen renovation, my parents ended up opting to paint the whole house. We also swapped out a very drafty exterior door and all the exterior lighting (with sconces and pendants from Rejuvenation’s adorable Columbia line).

Outdoor Space Before1

Eventually, I’d like to do siding on the whole house (my top choice would be shingles—see this post I did about different options) but for now, the white paint—Behr’s White Veil— is way cleaner and more beautiful than the dark beige paint. And the chic black doors—painting in Limousine Leather by Behr—look SO much better than the boring white ones.

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Before this shoot, I hit up Orchard Supply Hardware and bought basically every succulent they had. This backyard doesn’t really have a lot of plantable ground because most of the soil is root bound so we did mostly potted plants. Eventually, we’re thinking of adding a raised plant bed back there but for the time being, all these potted drought-tolerant plants back there seem pretty happy.

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The space below the upper deck provided the best shade spot for a table (we snagged this eight-seater from Article). Eventually, I want to get a huge mirror to bounce some light (and reflect all the redwoods) to hang on that wall behind the table.

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram might recognize some of those cacti from my whole Cactus Saga (in which I had to slice up a cactus I’d had for 20 years because it got too big for me to move and was dying). orMOMdo reports that the succulents and cacti actually love living in that shady spot, but we have another, sunnier spot to put them if they start to get sad with so little light.

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No Campfires

The backyard is filled with relics from our family’s time in Yosemite, including this cute little “No Fires No Camping” sign that orlanDAD got after it was disposed of for breaking in half.

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I wanted the outdoor table setting to be a little more rustic and inviting than the typical indoor dining vibe, so I love these dishes from St Frank’s new collection of Mexican ceramic dishes. The rustic vibe goes well with the organic table linens from Zestt Organic and the cute stitched napkins my mom made (she found the fabric as tea towels and cut them down to napkin size).

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One of the best parts of the makeovers at my parents’ house has been going up to check in on them from time to time. I’ve spent a lot of time up there this year. But the last few months have been so busy with work travel and projects (most excitingly MY TV PILOT!) that I haven’t had time to head up there. But I can tell my family is really enjoying this new outdoor space. My mom has already planned a few fun family parties out there and I know she uses the upper lounge space almost daily. So this project is going to provide a great return in relation to the time and money put into making it happen.

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I had a total paranoid freak out about this fire pit after I lit this fire and woke up in the middle of the night to make sure it hadn’t started a huge wildfire in the backyard (even though I’d dumped multiple buckets of water on it to make sure it was out). Casa Soria almost burnt down last year in the Sonoma County fires, so obviously that’s made everyone super cautious about any type of fire outside. The fire pit isn’t used frequently but is a nice accent to have out there and believe me we’re all super cautious about using it.

orMOMdo and I have some fun ideas about more updates we’d like to do around the yard (mostly adding in some raised plant beds so we can get more greenery and height near the fence) but overall the layout and construction of the outdoor space are done. The beautiful redwood is going to age into a gray color, which I think will be really elegant. And I can see us using this yard for years to come, because it truly is a lovely place to hang.

Here’s everything in a Get the Look I used to put my parents’ outdoor deck area together (some of the pieces you see in the images have sold out, so we sourced some similar items where noted).

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1. Redwood | 2. Outdoor Sconce | 3. Outdoor Pendant | 4. Tall Gray Planter (similar) | 5. Short Stone Planter (similar) | 6. Outdoor Sectional | 7. Garden Stool (similar) | 8. Brass Lantern (similar) | 9. Shibori Pillow (similar) | 10. Embroidered Lumbar Pillow | 11. Throw | 12. Grill | 13. Outdoor Dining Chair | 14. Outdoor Dining Table | 15. Tall Terra-Cotta Planter (similar) | 16. Shorter Terra-Cotta Planter (similar) | 17. Pillar Candle Holders (similar) | 18. Striped Napkins (similar) | 19. Dinnerware | 20. Tray (similar) | 21. Placemat | 22. Flatware Set | 23. Glass Tumbler (similar) | 24. Behr Gray Paint | 25. Behr White Paint | 26. Striped Pouf (similar) | 27. Sun Wall Art (similar) | 28. Adirondack Chair (similar) | 29. Doormat | 30. Fire Pit 

Stay tuned for some more Casa Soria reveals coming atcha in the coming weeks and months, but until then, here’s what we’ve written so far about this project in case you feel like reading up on it:

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5 years ago

I love it! The redwood is gorgeous and the indoor/outdoor living vibe is palpable. What about an outdoor rug under the dining table to ground the space within the backyard, and make it feel a touch cosier? Did you guys consider one or rule it out for any specific reason? Well done, love your projects as usual, and love your contribution to Emily’s blog!

5 years ago
Reply to  Kim

Great suggestion! My parents are pretty anti-rug-under-the-dining-table, so honestly the idea of an outdoor rug there never even occurred to me. I haven’t seen a lot of outdoor rugs that aren’t FILTHY, so I’m actually not the biggest proponent of them unless they’re in a sheltered space that will stay clean. This space looks sheltered but the deck isn’t water tight and the storm drains actually flow throw the space letting water wash away from the house.

5 years ago
Reply to  Orlando

Yay, Orlando! Finally a designer speaks the “truth” about outdoor rugs. We have an outdoor rug but it is always dirty, and I’m tired of cleaning it. Now I have permission to ditch it. (And great job, of course.)

Herself In Dublin
5 years ago
Reply to  Orlando

Or you could put down a “tile rug” (meaning, replace some of the existing flagstones with outdoor tiles), or even just paint one on the existing tiles, which would wear and patina nicely over time.

5 years ago

Great to know, as I’m currently designing a little patio space behind my London flat, and I was planning on using outdoor rugs/mats to cover the ugly concrete. But its not at all sheltered, so maybe not such a good idea! Food for thought…

5 years ago

So, so gorgeous. The craftsmanship on the deck is next level.

5 years ago

It’s so nice to see a rather ordinary backyard situation made so beautiful. More of this, please!

Herself In Dublin
5 years ago

This is beautiful. I had wondered if the table under the raised deck would feel cramped, but seeing it finished it looks so open and airy.

One question – do you have some kind of dumb-waiter setup for bringing things up and down to and from the kitchen?

5 years ago

We have soooo many split-level houses in this part of the country where the outdoor space has really gone wrong. This gives so many great ideas on how to achieve a nice look with a challenging split space. Great work! Lucky parents!

5 years ago

Dang, Orlando. Gorgeous! Can I adopt you as my son? Lol.

5 years ago

Wow, what a dreamy backyard! This is so beautiful and looks like a wonderful place to relax outdoors. Well done!

5 years ago

Such a gorgeous little oasis! I’m in love!

5 years ago

SO Beautiful!
I’d suggest a propane fire pit if your parents actually use it often- much easier to just turn on the fire, and no risk of sparking embers flying off in the wind to catch something on fire.

5 years ago

Looks great! I’m sure that your folks are enjoying the new space.

How does it work in reality with the grill outside the kitchen on the upper level and dining table on the lower level? That’s alot of stairs to carry platters, drinks, etc up and down. If the grill moved down to the table, is the kitchen then too far?

Just wondering…

5 years ago
Reply to  JDub

Excellent question! I actually offered to buy them another grill for downstairs but they thought that was excessive. Might grab one eventually because it is annoying getting things to/from the kitchen. The reason the upper deck was so important was the ormomdo can’t do lots of stairs (she recently had hip surgery), so it was important for her to be able to have a grill close to the kitchen (with no stairs) for everyday use. The stairs are a bummer for her to be honest, but it comes with the territory of the three level home they bought (there are stairs everywhere). When we had a birthday party for my niece there recently we just told her to tell us (my siblings and I) what to take in/out of the kitchen so she wasn’t putting stress on her joints by doing the stairs too many times. It’s not a perfect solution but we’re making it work. The only other alternative would be to build an another kitchen downstairs, which might be kind of a lot for a home this size.

5 years ago

Love the personal mementos and DIYs! Looks like a nice space and more importantly, it sounds like your parents are really enjoying it. Bravo!

Jennifer Gumbel
5 years ago

ORLANDO! That is amazing! Simple solutions and working with what you have to make something amazing!

5 years ago

Looks great! Very inspiring. Redoing my crappy patio overhang is on my to do list this year, but it’s been too hot and smokey where I am in N. Cali to tackle it. Maybe come Fall…

5 years ago

The deck is beautiful!

Wondering about the upper level and the slatted “roof”? Previously your mom could sit outstide when the weather was raining or wet but not now.

5 years ago
Reply to  Karen

This was definitely a bone of contention tbh. Basically, in order to build a roof out there it would have been an even more intense amount of engineering and cost. And while it was nice to have the shelter of that hideous corrugated metal, it actually darkened up the interior quite a bit. So the solution is just to be a little more conscientious about the outdoor furniture.

classic casual home
5 years ago
Reply to  Orlando

I love the look of the slatted roof (and really it doesn’t rain that much). Fine job of updating with a cool architectural feel. Lucky parents!!!

5 years ago
Reply to  Karen

Also sun coming through the slated roof might give someone a migrane if they are sensitive to light. It’s not about the sun as much as it’s about having to constantly adjust eyes to sun and shade. Love the look, but not a fan.

5 years ago

This is beautiful. I know your mom and dad are so thankful and so proud of you.

Tabitha Pacheco
5 years ago

Any tips on painting exterior stucco? I’d love to paint my house white like you did.

5 years ago

Great question! I think they used a sprayer for this. I think you might be able to rent one from the hardware store, but I’d imagine using a roller would have been impossible. We had a big team of professional painters and they did a great job, don’t think I’d tackle a job like this on my own unless I had a lot of time to figure it out, it’s too big a structure to deal without a scaffold or some intense ladder situations…

Paula Carr
5 years ago

So funny — I thought you had found a Chinese garden stool on the upper deck with a cool stripy pattern on the lower half. Then, I saw that it was just a reflection of the pattern the rafters were making on the deck floor!

From your previous posts, I know how ridiculously small the former kitchen was (and not a House Hunters “too small” either), and expanding the kitchen gave your folks this great petite garden. Win/win!

Succulents are crazy resilient. They’ll do well even in shade. About the only thing they WON’T tolerate is too much water.

Paula Carr
5 years ago
Reply to  Paula Carr

P.S. Just finished reading your Instragram on murdering your cactus, er, euphorbia. We have a giant potted euphorbia outside our front door, so I can empathize with your pain. We’ve actually had to rig an anchor with fishing line to the doorframe, because it’s so crazy top heavy. I’m now considering following your example — although ours is even BIGGER than yours was. Gotta wait until we’re through with all this heat before I tackle it though.

5 years ago

Hi Orlando! Love it!

What size is this deck? We are looking at putting a lounging/conversation deck out front.

5 years ago

Looks fantastic! I’m sure your parents are glad the renovations are finally complete. You did a great job. Love the Table and dining chairs.

5 years ago

So, so cozy and inviting. I love it. And I love how much you love your parents. Looking forward to your tv pilot!

5 years ago

What a great result! Love your posts and your design work. When I first read one of your posts, you had just lost both a boyfriend (and amazing living space) and a job you loved — and were rightly devastated. Now, one published book later plus exciting projects in the works, not to mention all the work on your parent’s house, look at YOU!

You always make me smile and even laugh out loud. All my best!

5 years ago

Orlando, you will no doubt have many offers of adoption after these amazing posts at your parents’ house. I love what you have done inside and out and love even more that it is REAL and not an excessive, exclusive, only to the trade situation. The love comes through and makes my heart happy.

Amy KS
5 years ago

It looks awesome Orlando. The deck looks like a tree house and the way the shadows fall is so cool. You did a fabulous job.

5 years ago

Wait, what tv pilot?!

Love the redwood, especially those enormous posts. Your parents must love it.

5 years ago

Hi Orlando!
Just wanted to tell you how much I love what you did to this outdoor space. Love it all soooo much.!

Julie Desautels
5 years ago

That looks like the ideal backyard : plants, firepit, little yardwork, beautiful. The deck looks like the perfect place for a before supper drink while keeping the BBQ chef company.

5 years ago

I love this so much, and I’m not even much of an outdoorsy person! You have done a fantastic job of making a beautiful space that melds the tastes of both your parents (at least that’s how it seems to me)!

Paige Cassandra Flamm
5 years ago

I love those striped poufs! I totally want to get some for our yard!


5 years ago

Love this post and photos because I have a similar situation at my old house and have not been able to visualize or describe what I wanted. This is a perfect solution, including the deck roof “attachment” to the main. Marvelous – I bet they’re really enjoying the transformation!