Sunroom and Patio Renovation Great for Texas Lifestyle

The drafty, dilapidated sunroom doors had to go. Now we can't get enough of our sunny sunroom!

When we first moved to Dallas, we rented a two-bedroom bungalow in the M Streets neighborhood of Old East Dallas. We loved the neighborhood, but, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the home office situation was sorely lacking.

I told Bob I’d be satisfied with two more rooms and a decent closet or two, and in June 2015, when we bought our 1921 bungalow in Junius Heights, a historic preservation neighborhood and one of the oldest subdivisions in Old East Dallas, it seemed to check all the boxes. The third bedroom had doors leading to the interior hallway and to the sun room, a side porch that had been enclosed during the renovation/flip circa 2000.

The setup was awesome! I positioned my desk so I could look out through the bank of French doors at the front yard. I was thrilled to have the sun room as an extension of my office–until winter set in. The charming French doors were drafty. Yes, I know we were in Dallas, but I still needed a space heater.

By spring, I was ready to tackle the sun room as this house’s first major renovation project.

The original plan was to tear up the cracked, broken ceramic tile (it wasn’t historic–it was from the flip) and replace the doors. If only it had been that simple…

The crumbling concrete was a surprise.

The concrete under the tile was crumbling and unstable. The contractor broke the news: it was necessary to jackhammer out all the original concrete and pour a new slab. ($$)

Stamped concrete

As long as we were getting new concrete, we opted for stamped, colored concrete. It looks amazing!

When the contractor removed the old French doors, he discovered that the brick column was unstable and needed to be rebuilt. ($$)

With each setback, the timeline and the budget increased, and the summer slipped away.

Rebuilding the brick column

On the worst day, the contractor realized the newly-poured concrete was too large. His worker spent the day slicing through the concrete with a circular saw. It was so grating that as soon as Bob got home, I threw my laptop in my bag and grabbed my keys.

Slices of concrete

“Where are you going?”

“Anywhere but here!”

“Hang on–I’m coming with you!”

We spent the rest of the afternoon on our laptops at a bar down the street.

Finally, the sun room was done, the new deck stained. The twelve-foot-wide sliding doors opened to a side patio with loose pea gravel.

Bright, airy, and cozy year-round!

It was hard to walk on, and when you sat in a patio chair, you sank a few inches into the gravel. We weren’t done. The project expanded to include the patio.

Bob found a load of brick for sale on Craig’s List. 1912 pavers from over in Fort Worth. The color was perfect. All we had to do was clear out the gravel.

Now let me be clear–it was hundreds of pounds of gravel. I can’t even count how many wheelbarrows full.

There’s Jack on the deck

The rear of our yard has heavy tree cover, and the grass doesn’t grow well. I said to Bob, “Hey, what if we move the gravel to the back and put a fire pit back there?”

Leveling and preparing the patio

He replied, “That’s a terrible idea.”

Oh. Gee, I’d thought it was a great solution.

Then about a week later, he said, “I’ve been thinking. What if we move the gravel back near the fence and make a fire pit area?”

He was totally serious. I replied, “That sounds like a great idea, sweetie. Let’s do that.”

We hustled to clear out the gravel, and soon the landscapers got to work. The results were just what we’d been hoping for, and we have a great fire pit area to boot.

I’ve expanded my office into the indoor-outdoor space.



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