One of the things I really wanted to change about my house when I moved in was the two dirt patches which adorned both sides of the stairs up to the front porch (see the lovely top picture, below). So we headed to Home Depot one day to get some ideas. Ideas only. But as we were walking into HD we passed a pallet of pavers (see the bottom photo, below) that had been used and returned. So they had some glue on them, but they were also only $50. For the entire pallet. We originally passed it up and headed to the garden department. For ideas. Until A said, "You know, if you're thinking about those, we need to go back and get them. Now. Or someone else will." You know the end of the story. What you don't know is that the $50 dollar pallet was over 3,000 lbs. of pavers and, as we later calculated, worth over $500. I have some flowers on order, so I can't fill the beds yet, but look at the improvement!
The entire porch got an overhaul, and probably cost about as much as those pavers. I painted the loveseat a darker brown and covered those hideous cushions with covers I found at the thrift store. Also from the thrift store are the bamboo vases, the curtain, and the few items you can see on the wall on the right in the top right photo. The hanging planters are from Ikea and the teal table is a recent sale find from World Market.
Finally, a quick shot of what the upper deck looks like as well. Quite different from when I bought the place. Of course, summer and full, green trees help a bit, too.