decked out

Ever since finishing the big 2010 project we’ve talked about hosting a celebratory post-reno house party. Now, we’ve had a few blow-outs at chezerbey before, but somehow they always seem to happen when the house is a complete mess. Case in point: three years ago we had a party for Kyle’s 30th, approximately one week after we demolished our bathroom. As if a sink-less bathroom and black plastic shower curtain wasn’t enough, we were still wrapping up the bedroom project and sleeping in the living room.

Then we had grand plans to ring in my 30th last year with the finished interior. And well, we all know that didn’t happen. (Although at the time it seemed like we were really close. Ha!) But by this spring we were ready for a real party. Oh wait, no. Let’s build a deck first! So a month or so ago we finally picked a date (coinciding with Kyle’s 33rd b-day) and in typical Zerbey fashion we worked right up to our self-imposed deadline, installing the final deck boards and hauling concrete just days before the event.

But the party happened. And it was good.

Pony kegs! I haven’t seen one of these contraptions since college, but it really did make the most sense for the 50+ people that we invited. (Besides, we classed it up with some local Maritime brews.) For the non-beer drinkers, we whipped up some sangria and a couple of pitchers of strawberry margaritas and noshed on mini sliders, an assortment of side dishes, and birthday cookies from Specialties.

Although the deck has greatly improved the backyard, we thought there was still something missing. No, not the planters, awning and fire pit that we still need to build. Party lights! Ok, so well-designed string lights were not the easiest thing to track down the day before the shindig, but we finally found some at a party supply store in North Seattle.

“Hi. Do you have string lights that aren’t flamingos or palm trees?”

“Yes, we have Midway lights.”


“Y’know, the kind you see at carnivals.”


We originally wanted to do all clear bulbs, but they didn’t have enough so we alternated with the amber color. It’s fun without being too carnival (if you know what I mean).

The weekend before the party our driveway was still a haphazard (and hazardous) pile of concrete rubble. We put an ad on Craigslist thinking everyone would rush to get our beautifully cut chunks of driveway, but by Sunday evening we didn’t have a single bite. I panicked a little and quickly considered my options: 1) e-mail my family that was coming into town and tell them to bring their work clothes or 2) pay to have a hauling company come and take it away. Fortunately, neither scenario happened because Craigslist saved us (like he always does). Early last week we were contacted by a local landscaping company who saw our ad and wanted it all. Best of all, they had the crew and trucks to move it. PHEW. There was still a truckload worth of small rubble that Kyle, my brother and I shoveled up and disposed of late last week.

Ok, so the remaining dirt pile wasn’t exactly awesome, but it did provide us with a nice venue for corn hole! (And the dirt was a big hit with the toddlers at the party.) Eventually this whole area will get planted, but we’ve got all sorts of grading and amending of soil that needs to happen first.

In a last-minute stroke of genius, Kyle bought and installed a magnetic door stop that allowed the back door to stay open throughout the party. It also helped pump the tunes from the living room to the backyard. (Don’t worry, we gave our neighbors a heads-up and many of them even joined us. In fact, one of my favorite memories was seeing our neighbor passing out a tray of birthday cake shots.)

We’ll do another post that shows more finished shots of the deck, but you get the idea. We pulled the bbq out for the event, but it will normally reside under the kitchen window where the kegs were.

Oh, and just so you don’t get any crazy ideas that our house is always perfectly clean and organized…

(Ok, yes – as soon as the last guest left I totally started cleaning up.)

The next morning, summarized in one photo:

(FYI – the floors were a hot mess the next day, but they cleaned up nicely with a wet microfiber mop.)

Big thanks to everyone who pitched in at the last-minute to make the party a success. With an actual space for people to gather, we’re thinking about doing this party thing on a more regular basis. (Dancing on the coffee table again? Maybe not.) At any rate, those string lights aren’t coming down until winter.


34 Responses to “decked out”

  1. It’s nice to see your house in party mode. For me, having a space where I enjoy spend time with my friends and family is the best thing about home ownership.

  2. Dawn Moore says:

    These things are exHAUSTING as anyone who does them knows! LOVE the string lights, random balloons, and Bailey’s reaction to the end. You’re always inspiring!

  3. Heather says:

    great blog, great party.

  4. Ricardo says:

    Happy Bday. Enjoying your blog from Brussels

  5. Martha says:

    love the final photo with the yellow balloon on the floor.

  6. katie says:

    looks like a great party, love the deck!

    esp. love the photo of bailey at the end.

  7. AarthiD says:

    It appears to have been a really fabulous party! 😀 the carnival lights are great, actually, and are a nice touch to the deck. Naturally, the fire pit will liven things up even more.


    The house looks great, and that party looks like fun! Happy Birthday Kyle! Can’t wait until my place is ready to have guests… I think it’s a great party apartment, but it’s too ugly and cluttered to have people over now.

    • Kyle Z says:

      Thanks Dan, Bailey was running around trying to find spilt beer;) poor puppy, we had some pretty good parties during our remodel, nice thing is you don’t have to worry so much collateral party damage

    • chezerbey says:

      Don’t worry, it only took us 5 years to have a real party. You’ve got plenty of time… =)

  9. Peggy says:

    Bailey looks like he is hung-over… What a hoot. Love your website btw. Cheers from Kingston, Ontario, Canada…

  10. I adore that picture of Bailey. I think it definitely tells the story. Also, the deck looks great (of course) and I think you found the perfect party lights. That’s what summer is all about!

  11. Heather says:

    It looks amazing. Great job! Do you have a tree on the far side of the yard to run the lights to or did rig up something?

  12. Awesome deck! Looks like our current weather pattern is holding. LOVE Specialties cookies!

  13. Gaidig says:

    Happy Birthday Kyle!
    Congratulations on finishing the deck. The party looks fabulous, and I love the midway lights. That last photo really does sum it up. It’s hilarious!

  14. Cait says:

    Love it! (Especially the Bailey picture.)

    Those lights are awesome! I’ve been looking for some like that for our yard.

  15. Cindy says:

    great party zerbs! and i love the bailey post-party picture 🙂

  16. Laura says:

    I’m still sad I missed the coffee table dancing! wyatt, so anti-fun. love the bailey pics, per usual.

  17. LauraC says:

    Does the “party supply store in North Seattle” have a name? So, you know, I can stop by and see if they have any more lights? I’ve been wanting some like that for awhile. Were they reasonably priced? ‘Cause they look pretty pricey! (in a good way)

    • chezerbey says:

      Hey Laura, I think it’s actually called “Party and Costume Supply”. It’s on Roosevelt just north of Northgate. They were kinda spendy…like $40 for the string (100′) and maybe another $60 for the lights (4 boxes of 25 each). We’re thinking we’ll get a lot of use out of them, so the price didn’t see *too* bad. I think they also had shorter strands but may have been out of stock.

  18. Amy Stoddard says:

    Your photos of Bailey are priceless. Love the lights. I always wondered what that game in the driveway is called. We play that too. Cheers from Michigan.

  19. Little Edie says:

    The midway lights [who knew?] perfectly completed the look. And, Bailey – always the most handsome GR on the interwebs.

  20. Bailey is such a cutie pie 🙂

  21. Monica says:

    The string lights are so cool, but I think you could have totally pulled off flamingos. Love how your deck turned out and thanks for the during party kitchen party shot. Bailey is such a superstar!

  22. Dusa says:

    “At any rate, those string lights aren’t coming down until winter.” Isn’t that like next month for you folks? **wink**

    (Spoken by someone who lives in Northern Vermont)

  23. Jeremy says:

    Agree with all the Bailey adoration. That last picture… he looks like a worn out human in a dog suit. That’s definitely in the picture worth a thousand words category.

    Great party Kyle and Lauren


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