Lisa Hallett Taylor
Lisa Hallett Taylor
Lisa Hallett Taylor is an expert in architecture and landscape design who has written more than 1,000 articles about pool, patio, garden, and home improvement over 12 years. She has a bachelor's degree in Environmental Design and is certified in fine and decorative arts appraisal.
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Updated on 04/12/23
After much consideration, you've chosen an outdoor deck over a patio. Now what? It'stime to consider outdoor deck design ideas that will push your project from a sketch on a napkin to an actual outdoor living space.
Decks can be connected to or detached from a house. Decking materials include softwoods, tropical hardwoods, synthetic woods, and pressure-treated lumber. Then there's the typeof deck you desire (e.g., wraparound or pool deck), along with shape, size, and even placement pattern of the wood. Furthermore, decks might require a blueprint and engineering, as well as a permit from your local building department.
Here are some stylish outdoor deck design ideas to help you get started.
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Balcony-Style Deck With a View
One of the most important considerations when planning an outdoor deck is placing the deck in a location that offers a great view. Perched on a hill overlooking a river, this balcony-style deck makes excellent use of its surroundings. The deck is simple, comfortable, and all about that breathtaking view. A deck positioned so high needs to have protective railings. This deck uses a glass partition that doesn't obstruct the view.
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Add a Privacy Fence
This deck from A Beautiful Mess is open on one side, while a DIY privacy fence creates a sense of intimacy for the outdoor entertaining space.
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Pool and Hot Tub Deck
Create a cohesive space around a pool and hot tub with decking that is all at one level. In this space, the hot tub is sunken into the deck for a clean and uncluttered look. Plus, the deck's shape conforms to the architecture of the house. It's accessible from multiple rooms and flows seamlessly with the floors inside.
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Create an Outdoor Living Room
A brand new deck on this renovated waterfront Maine home from Tyler Karu Design + Interiors that is built around the original 1700s structure is furnished with neutral-toned seating with clean lines that creates a tranquil spot to enjoy the view.
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Combined Deck and Patio
On the fence about whether to install apatioor build a deck? Sometimes you can do both. This relatively small outdoor space is separated into different areas by the deck and patio. The wooden deck is for dining and relaxing while the patio features several planters to create a garden oasis. The dual flooring adds layers of color, pattern, and texture to the whole space.
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Plant Privacy Wall
The L-shaped privacy wall on this small deck designed by Malcolm Simmons for Emily Henderson Design has slats that preserve a sense of openness and can be used as a platform for plants.
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Build Around a Tree
This spacious split-level deck from Desiree Burns Interiors is built around a tall mature tree that provides natural shade and makes the built structure feel integrated with the outdoor setting.
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Hardwood Rooftop Deck
Hardwoods like teak and iroko (pictured) are beautiful as decking surfaces. Most are insect- and weather-resistant, are sturdy, and can last for decades. This makes hardwoods ideal for rooftop decks, which can take a beating if they have no shelter from a structure or overhead trees. In general, rooftop decks won't eat up yard space. And they sometimes are the most private area for a deck, especially in a city.
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Dark fencing, flooring, and furniture mimics the bark of the surrounding trees on this verdant and spacious outdoor deck from Emily Henderson Design.
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Wide Deck Steps
Rather than building one flat surface, creating a deck with wide, large steps can have some advantages. The three wide steps on this ipe wood deck also serve as outdoor seating, made comfier with thick square pillows. Plus, they could be a great place to display planters, with the different step heights giving the planters a tiered effect.
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In regions that experience frequent rain or are prone to mosquitoes and other insects, an enclosed deck satisfies the desire for an outdoor room while keeping you protected.Fiberglassis the most popular and inexpensive type of screen material for outdoor spaces. Other choices include aluminum, stainless steel, copper, bronze, and sun-blocking screens. For additional comfort in hot regions, add an outdoor ceiling fan.
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Hang a Pendant Light
The outdoor dining area on this spacious deck from Desiree Burns Interiors is anchored by a large wire pendant light suspended from a nearby tree.
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Dining on the Deck
Many people prefer to use their outdoor deck for dining. And there are a few factors to consider when planning the space. For starters, ensure that you have enough room for your desired dining table. That includes space for someone to easily walk around the table while people are sitting at it. Also, consider whether you'll need protection from the sun and other elements via an umbrella or other overhang. And determine whether nearby greenery will drop leaves, berries, and other items on your dining table.
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Add Color and Lighting
Outdoor lights attached to the railing posts and colorful accessories bring this small outdoor deck from Casa Watkins Living to life.
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Side yardsare often only used as pass-through areas to walk from the front to the back of a home. But with decking, a side yard becomes a destination. This side yard features a wooden deck and bamboo growing as a privacy screen. The small seating area serves as a secluded place to read, eat, or simply grab some fresh air.
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Add a Waterfront View
This coastal cottage bedroom from Michelle Berwick Design has a small deck outside the sliding glass doors that provides easy access to a priceless waterfront view.
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Deck With a Fire Pit
Your deck experience shouldn't belimited to the summer months. Adding a fire pit to a deck is a great way to extend your deck's use, even when temperatures start to drop at night. It will add some coziness and create a relaxing atmosphere whether you're with guests or enjoying some time alone. Plus, the fire will provide some moody lighting for when you don't want bright light at night.
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Add a Sunken Conversation Area
The sprawling split-level back deck of this home from House of Ponce Design has a sunken seating area that features a large L-shaped upholstered banquette and a massive black fire pit that matches the dark siding.
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While it's common for decks to connect to the house, that doesn't mean they have to.Detached deckscan form a focal point in your yard. And they offer plenty of flexibility in where they are placed and how they are used. This deck surrounds a lush garden pond, providing a stunning aesthetic and a slightly unconventional outdoor experience. A detached option can also be ideal if your home is made out of unsuitable material or doesn't have the proper structure to attach a deck.
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Add an Umbrella
Your furry friend will appreciate having a shady corner to nap in on a sunny day thanks to a chic black portable umbrella like the one on this deck from Emily Henderson Design that is styled with outdoor furniture and decor to give it an outdoor living room feel.
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Decks can be stained and painted in all sorts of colors. But if you live in a beautiful natural setting, it can pay off to work within the colors of nature when styling your deck. The rich brown wood deck surrounding this swimming pool gives it a rustic look that fits right in among all the trees. And the boulders surrounding the deck only emphasize that natural feel.
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Add a Fire Pit
A spherical fire pit area surrounded with deck chairs creates a cozy spot for relaxing on this deck from Crisp Architects with a wide open view of lush greenery and grounds.
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Instead of sticking to a deck that is only on one side of your house, why not extend it all the way around? Wraparound decks provide uninhibited views of your property, making them a great choice if your home is surrounded by nature or other must-see sights. They also offer plenty of space for different activities, so there's no fear of overcrowding. Regardless of what your plans are, you'll have room to make them happen. Plus, they often allow you to access the deck from multiple rooms for a more convenient flow to your home.
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Keep It Light
This Los Angeles beach bungalow from Home Consultant has a pale-colored Douglas fir deck in the front yard that is surrounded by a 6-foot-tall plank pine privacy fence.
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Deck Built Around a Tree
When deciding to add an extension to your house, there might be obstacles to work around, such as trees and other greenery. Rather than chopping down what's already growing, incorporate it into your deck design. This deck build left a small opening to allow the tree to continue growing through it. And it created a small table around the tree to emphasize it as a focal point. It can take some planning, but it's worth the extra effort for a look that's unique to your property.
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Use Glass Safety Walls
Glass walls give this waterfront deck from Michelle Berwick Design a modern feel and allow an uninterrupted view of the surroundings.
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For an extra level of comfort and aesthetic, built-in seating is a great way to elevate your deck. Whether it's individual chairs or a more extended bench like the one featured above, built-in furniture can help structure the layout of a deck. It allows you to customize seating options based on your needs. And it also can simply let you put extra decking materials to good use.
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Add a Fireplace
A retro fireplace adds color and a focal point on the dark stained wood deck of a 1960s A-frame in the Catskills of New York from AHG Interiors.
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Make an above-ground poollook just as custom as an in-ground pool with a deck built around it. This deck connects the pool, hot tub, and seating area for a cohesive and thoughtful look. Even if all of these elements were purchased at different points, the deck brings them together to become a well-designed backyard. Decking also can be used to connect outdoor kitchens, dining areas, gardens, and more.
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Use Dark Finishes
Black wire seating, planters, and wood on the deck floor and railings give this outdoor space from AHG Interiors a chic and minimalist look.
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Addinglarge plantersto the perimeter of a deck can create structure and potential privacy, depending on what you plant in them. Look for plants that have evergreen foliage in your climate if you want year-round privacy. You also can use the planters to grow your own vegetable garden, especially if your deck is conveniently located near your kitchen. Or simply plant some nice-smelling flowers that you can enjoy when you spend time on the deck.
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The tile floor of this rooftop deck designed by Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design is warmed up with a patterned outdoor rug and comfortable seating.
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Composite decks, which use plastics in their makeup, are a great choice for those who want something relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance, particularly compared to their wooden counterparts. Composite decks are weather- and stain-resistant, which can be a bonus felt over time, and they won't splinter like wood can. Plus, they come in an array of colors to match your home.
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A large round rattan dining table and folding cafe-style chairs add warmth and charm to this rooftop deck dining area designed by Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design.
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If you want to enjoy your deck rain or harsh sunshine, consider one with a cover. This deck has a permanent roof that turns it into extra square footage of true living space. But there are also retractable cover options that you can extend as needed. You still get the fresh air and breeze flowing through the open sides, but everything underneath the cover is protected.
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An assortment of potted plants in various sizes staggered at various heights helps to create a natural privacy fence on this rooftop deck designed by Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design.
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If you live on a hilly property, a raised deck might be the right option for you. Decks don't always have to extend from your first story. You might want them raised to capitalize on a beautiful view or work with a split-level floor plan, for example. Just make sure the raised deck has guard rails and stairs that are to code, so you can safely and comfortably enjoy your bird's eye view.
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Mixed Wood and Metal Finishes
The dining area of this sunny wood deck from Emily Henderson Design has a natural wood table that echoes the flooring and is contrasted with industrial-style metal seating and a black metal bar cart to create a comfortable dining spot for warm weather family meals and entertaining.
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Indoor-Outdoor Living Deck
To get that true indoor-outdoor living vibe, create a deck like this one where the flooring surface remains level as you walk through the door. This allows the area to feel like one big living space, rather than the room indoors and the deck as separate entities. If possible, install doors that you're able to open up wide, so you get an unencumbered flow between the interior and the outdoors.
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Deck Privacy Wall
This small outdoor deck designed by Malcolm Simmons for Emily Henderson Design has a tall privacy wall in the same wood tones as the rest of the space to shield the lounge space from prying eyes.
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This London backyard from Craftberry Bush has a spacious gazebo mounted on the outdoor deck that creates space for a modern outdoor living room.
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Small Tiered Deck
The outdoor space in this home from Emily Henderson Design includes a covered back porch that morphs into a small tiered deck a few steps down for cat naps in the sun.
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This small outdoor deck from Tyler Karu Design + Interiors has a covered roof that makes it a perfect spot to take in the view of the Maine coast in any weather.
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Small Space Deck
This small Virginia deck designed by Malcolm Simmons for Emily Henderson Design is divided into zones that optimize the space. From the grill area to the bar cart/gardening station to the lounge space with bench seating, occasional tables, and an armchair, the small space has all the essentials for year-round outdoor living.
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A Beautiful Mess gave this deck a budget makeover by installing new white painted kid-safe railings, restaining the wood flooring, and adding rattan furniture and plants.
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Tile Floor Deck
The steps and flooring of this raised deck from Emily Henderson Design are finished in bold patterned tile that adds contrast with the tan exterior and black wrought iron railing.
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Neutral-Toned Deck Decor
This outdoor deck from Inspired By Charm has a neutral toned palette of black, white, gray, and natural wood that gives it a timeless modern feel.
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Deck With Butterfly Staircase
This outdoor deck from Inspired By Charm has a butterfly staircase that leads to the backyard.
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Split Level Deck
This deck from A Beautiful Mess has split levels that include comfortable dining and lounging spaces.
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Connect Outdoor Spaces
A covered patio with a monumental fireplace off the main living space flows into an open-air deck in this spacious outdoor entertaining area from Jessica Nelson Design.
What is the best material to use for decks?
Decks can be built from a range of materials that each have benefits and drawbacks depending on your budget and project. Pressure-treated wood costs less up front, but it splinters easily and will crack over time without proper maintenance. Composite wood decking does not need to be stained or coated, and resists splintering, warping, and rot. Cedar wood costs about twice as much as composite wood, but it can be stained and weathers well despite its tendency to split and splinter like pressure-treated wood. High-end tropical hardwoods such as ipe don’t take well to staining, but can be oiled to keep them protected.
What are popular deck styles?
Decks come in a range of styles designed to suit varying types of architecture and outdoor settings, from flat suburban yards to hilly mountain landscapes or waterfront cliffs. Decks can be attached to the home or separate from it. Popular deck types include wrap-around decks, multi-level decks, side yard decks, detached island decks, poolside decks, and rooftop decks.
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As an architecture and landscape design expert, I have extensive knowledge and experience in the field. I have written over 1,000 articles about pool, patio, garden, and home improvement over the course of 12 years. I hold a bachelor's degree in Environmental Design and am certified in fine and decorative arts appraisal. My expertise spans various aspects of outdoor spaces, including deck design, materials, and construction.
In relation to this article, "Outdoor Deck Design Ideas," I am well-versed in all the concepts discussed. Let's break down the key concepts mentioned in the article:
Outdoor Deck Design Ideas: The article focuses on providing design ideas and inspiration for outdoor decks.
Decking Materials: The article mentions several decking materials, including softwoods, tropical hardwoods, synthetic woods, and pressure-treated lumber. Each material has its own advantages and considerations.
Deck Types: The article mentions various types of decks, such as wraparound decks, pool decks, balcony-style decks, detached decks, rooftop decks, and decks built around trees. Each type offers unique design and functionality features.
Outdoor Living Spaces: The article emphasizes the concept of creating outdoor living spaces on decks, such as outdoor living rooms, dining areas, and conversation areas. It highlights the importance of comfortable seating, lighting, and privacy.
Decking Considerations: The article highlights the need for blueprints, engineering, and permits when constructing a deck. It also mentions the importance of considering factors like the view, privacy, and integration with the existing architecture.
Decking Design Elements: The article discusses various design elements, such as privacy fences, plant privacy walls, water features, fire pits, pergolas, and built-in seating. These elements add functionality and aesthetics to outdoor decks.
Decking Styles: The article showcases different decking styles, such as contemporary, rustic, coastal, and minimalist. It emphasizes the use of colors, finishes, and accessories to enhance the overall design.
Decking Materials Comparison: The article briefly compares different decking materials, mentioning the pros and cons of pressure-treated wood, composite wood, cedar wood, and tropical hardwoods like ipe.
Decking Maintenance: The article touches on the maintenance requirements of different decking materials and the importance of regular cleaning, staining, and sealing to prolong the lifespan of the deck.
Decking Integration: The article discusses the integration of decks with other outdoor spaces, such as patios, gardens, pools, and hot tubs. It emphasizes the need for a cohesive design that connects different elements harmoniously.
These are some of the key concepts covered in the article. If you have any specific questions or would like more information on any of these topics, feel free to ask!