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Small-Deck Design Ideas

Don't let a pint-size yard stifle your outdoor living dreams: Use these small-deck design ideas to create a space-savvy, beautiful space.

Maybe your lot is smaller than you'd like, making it a challenge to include gardens and a deck. Perhaps your yard is awkwardly arranged, leaving you little room for formal outdoor areas. Or possibly you have plenty of flowerbeds but little leftover space to place an outdoor table and chairs.  Whatever the reason, if you find yourself with big-deck dreams but small-deck constraints, we've got advice. To make the most of small-deck design ideas, rethink your square footage with smart ideas to make the best use of the space you have.

1. Evaluate your needs.

Your lifestyle can and should play a huge part in any small-deck design ideas. Before you do anything, think about how you currently use your outdoor space and how you'd like to use it. For example, if you regularly gather family and friends for meals, then you'll want to maximize deck area for seating as well as include a spot for a grill. But if you have a large lawn for playing and relaxing, a deck might serve a whole different purpose in your daily life -- solitary reading of the paper, for example.

2. Maintain the proper scale.

Before you begin sorting through small-deck designs, think about scale. Your small deck should feel as though it maintains consistent proportion to both the yard and your home. Too small or too big, and either landscape or the small deck will feel overwhelmed.

3. Establish a connection from house to deck and deck to yard.

Nothing makes a small deck look more awkward than a design that looks out of place with its surroundings. One of the keys in successful small-deck design ideas is to ensure that the style, materials, and shape feel in sync with both your home and your landscape. You'll also want to create a small-deck design that encourages an efficient, natural flow between inside and outside. For example, if doors to your kitchen lead to a side yard, that unexpected spot might be the best place for a small deck.

4. Think in levels and curves.

Oftentimes, homeowners let difficult yard situations, such as an awkward slope, discourage them from including a small deck. But decks, even in a minuscule yard or space, can be a great way to conquer those landscape demons. For example, a stepped-down small-deck design can provide multiple levels for gathering, serve for different functions, and help you get rid of grass that never grows or cover a slope that always erodes. A curved small-deck design might help you squeeze a few extra square feet (as well as a secluded nook) out of a tiny landscape.

5. Provide visual relief.

On small-deck designs, there's less space to distract the eye, so the details take on heightened significance. Think overhead, on the sides, and underfoot. Try an arbor to create a cozier structure (and provide supports for flowering vines). Distinguished rails offer visual relief, as do rail planters and metal accents. A deck floor in a pattern such as basket weave or one set on a diagonal creates interest.

6. Offer storage.

Just because your deck is small doesn't mean it shouldn't work hard. Much like shelves, hooks, and drawers in the tiniest linen closet, there are multiple ways to put your small-deck design to work. Think of built-in seating with lids that flip up to hide outdoor cushions and toys. If your small deck is elevated, try hidden storage underneath for seasonal furniture.

7. Include plantings.

Whether they're in containers or between the small deck and the rest of your landscape, flowers, trees, and shrubs are key to melding deck with yard. Use small shrubs to disguise footings, posts, and corners; trees to offer shade; and flowers to connect with gardens elsewhere in the yard.

8. Finish it off.

Just because your deck is small doesn't mean you should pay less attention to the final flourishes. Plan for convenient outlets. Choose complementary fabrics and furniture that enhance the design of the small deck and your outdoor living space. Do what you can to create a space that feels comfortable and welcoming.

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