10 Ways to Design a Better Deck

Structural flourishes make the difference between a run-of-the-mill deck and one you'll love to use.

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1. Top It Off


An arbor overhead enhances the cozy, roomlike ambience of this deck. The soaring structure of wood uprights and crossbeams would be an ideal support for a flowering vine, bringing the garden onto the deck.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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2. Opt for Elegant Details


A deck's railing makes a style statement. Why settle for mundane? This elegant Chippendale-style rail distinguishes what might otherwise be an ordinary deck. A fancy lattice valance on the arbor frames views into the yard.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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3. Add Metal Accents


This home's contemporary architecture calls for clean lines and streamlined aesthetic. Bronze railing and a curved strip of copper flashing, both allowed to weather naturally, put a high-end spin on industrial materials.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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4. Vary the Surface


Pattern breaks up the monotony of an expansive deck. In addition to this variation on a basket-weave design, boards can be installed in diagonals, checkerboard grids, and elaborate parquet patterns.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape ®magazine.

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5. Throw in a Curve


Set against the straight lines of residential architecture, this semicircular prow deck is all the more extraordinary. A crescent-shape flowerbed repeats the curve at ground level.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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6. Hide Clutter


A storage closet for stackable furniture and extra cushions makes a handy addition to an outdoor living area. Another set of doors on the driveway side of this structure opens to a closet that holds gardening tools.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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7. Dress Up Posts and Pillars


Although 6x6 posts may be structurally sufficient as support columns, they have the visual panache of matchsticks. Decorative moldings trim these pillars, which hold a small upper-level deck. The railing posts feature a similar treatment.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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8. Cool Off with a Spa


This built-in spa is big enough for a refreshing summer plunge or an afternoon of splashing with the kids. Even if you're not inclined to hop in, you'll feel cooler just gazing into its blue depths.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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9. Eliminate Railings


Built with no railing, this platform deck, which floats inches above the ground, has an austere simplicity that matches its Asian-theme surroundings. Local building codes regulate the need for railings; in many municipalities, railing-free decks must be no more than two steps above the lawn.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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10. Step Up in Style


Low, broad steps allow for easy movement between two deck levels and from the lawn. When steps are this wide, there's plenty of room to stage a garden growing in containers.

From Garden, Deck, and Landscape® magazine.

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