A magazine photograph introduced the homeowners to the work of a talented builder and served as the inspiration for this stunning deck near Portland, Oregon.
The homeowners dreamed of an outdoor living area where they could entertain a crowd but also enjoy a private, serene soak in a hot tub. They wanted the new deck to follow the pronounced slope behind the house and project toward the lake
The resulting deck features two main levels-one for dining and one for a hot tub-but also includes a third level between the two. The intermediate level, featuring a grill, wraps around the home's kitchen and breakfast nook on the far edge of the house. It sweeps even closer to the water than the deck's other two levels, allowing everyone a view of the lake when guests are over.
The sinuous, uninterrupted upper railing is 44 feet long. The builder chose clear Western red cedar, which boasts warm tones and a subtle grain. The use of clear wood was vital for both aesthetic and practical reasons: Knotty wood will break, not bend.
Local codes required preserving a towering Douglas fir tree directly behind the house. The only option was to build the deck around the tree.
In the quest to expand entertaining space on the deck, the builder literally hit a wall. The pronounced slope behind the house held a large solid rock outcropping.
Rather than stop short of the rock, he butted the decking and steps against its irregular face, which served as a natural railing. This was a challenge. Each piece of decking and each curved step tread had to be cut precisely to the contour of the rock.
Gracefully curved, uninterrupted railings cap unobtrusive aluminum balusters to preserve the magnificent view of Lake Oswego.
A curved stairway offers easy access to the yard while keeping the hot tub out of view from below, ensuring privacy.
The elliptical hot tub's weight dictated that it sit on the ground. It was built by spraying gunite over forms and finished with plaster and brick coping. Curved decking was built around it after installation.
The hot tub's position and the use of thin-profile railing balusters allow bathers to absorb a breathtaking vista while enjoying a warm soak.
Hinged doors swing open to provide easy access to the spaces; when closed, the narrow wood slats complement the lines and color of the decking.
The intermediate level includes a built-in bench with sweeping views of Lake Oswego.
The builder painstakingly furnished the deck with built-in features, including seating, planters, lighting, and storage. Instead of appearing plopped down or tacked on, these items enhance the deck with their design.
French doors provide access to the upper level of the deck, and a trio of broad, curved steps leads down to the intermediate level.
A series of undulating curves unifies the deck's three levels as they descend the slope. The curves found on the edge of the deck and its railing are replicated in the steps and benches.
This deck's curves are even more impressive when you understand how they were made. The builder used clear Western red cedar that was still green and therefore still pliable. But even green wood will only bend so far before it breaks. To achieve the tight curves, boards were ripped into thin strips, bent to a form, and then laminated back together, requiring a multitude of clamps while the glue dried.
The deck is well-integrated with the property, accommodating features such as trees and rock walls. The result is a subtle, elegant blending of the deck with its environment, as well as efficient use of available space.