Raise the Bar
Build along the outer edges of an enclosed deck to create an all-purpose beverage station. Use wooden boards that match the tone of the existing structure, and attach them to the interior ledge so that the bar seamlessly blends in with its surroundings while serving up a twist on the ordinary.
While an open-air deck makes a happy addition to any home, outfitting it with a pergola can transform it into a regal retreat. This DIY version, made from pressure-treated wood, is painted a sleek ivory for a classic finish that lends alfresco gatherings an elegant flair.
The easiest way to add color and interest to a drab deck is to display your homegrown plants, succulents, and flowers in interesting arrangements and at varying heights. Here, a collection of chic pots spruce up the floor, while vibrant hanging baskets make the deck feel both fuller and brighter.
The Power of Paint
Even if you're stuck with a deck of diminutive dimensions, you can still create the illusion of space. A fresh coat of paint that closely matches the exterior of your home can make the deck seem more expansive and cohesive—more like an integral extension of the house than a bulky stand-alone extra.
Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting
A wood-slat screen can afford you all the seclusion you crave without sacrificing style. This white-painted version helps to distinguish the dining room-playroom combo from the rest of the house, creating an outdoor area that feels private, yet open to the natural surroundings.
Related: 11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy
An abundance of furniture and accessories can give an instant upgrade to a dull but ample deck. But in a narrow structure wedged into a tight yard, large furnishings and fixtures subtract from both space and style opportunities. To elevate narrow confines, pair compact furniture with minimalist accents—for example, the small, circular dining set and duo of dark-colored planters shown here—for an eye-pleasing result that feels streamlined, not squished.
Zillow Digs home in Oakland, CA
Side Yard Save
Plagued by size constraints and a lack of creative solutions, side yards often go unused. But you can take advantage of this neglected stretch of space by building an elevated deck that can play host to a small dining area or relaxation station. After laying down gravel and concrete, install posts and joists, drill in the decking, and coat it with a wood preservative for enhanced durability.
Related: 9 DIY Ideas for a Summery Backyard
In an expansive yard, it can be a challenge to get the lawn, garden, deck, and other structures to work together. One simple fix is to incorporate transitions, such as patio pavers and plants, in order to visually connect the various elements for a cohesive and thoughtful result.
Zillow Digs home in Cupertino, CA
Compelling decor is vital in making your deck feel like a destination. Choosing a specific style or color scheme can help you narrow in on your vision and ensure that you make the right purchases when you're decorating or renovating. As you're conceiving your design, don't forget to plan for the weather: If you reside in a rainy climate, try a roof alternative like this draped tarp that casually and attractively shields the eating area.
Zillow Digs home in Portland, OR
Exposed decks can subject you and your guests to whipping winds, harsh sunlight, and other forces of nature. Consider building your structure around the trunk of a favorite backyard tree so you can benefit from both the shelter of its shady branches and its natural beauty.
You don’t need expensive lighting to illuminate a dreary deck. In comparison with their high-end counterparts, simple fixtures like string lights and lanterns can just as effectively—and far more affordably—light the way to a fun and charming outdoor area.
The Right Angle
While traditional decks feature square or rectangular layouts, consider softening the sharp corners by chamfering (cutting at an angle) to achieve expressive edges. Here, a deck frame with angled corners creates the illusion of ample space while drawing the eye to the minimalist style of the furniture and decor.
Zillow Digs home in Woodinville, WA
Double the Fun
This home enjoys the classic benefits of a patio and the relaxing characteristics of a larger, lofted deck, demonstrating that houses of all sizes and square footage can achieve the outdoor living area of their dreams. Decorative cues taken from indoor comforts like throw pillows and fabric curtains make the two structures feel consistent, while the overarching pergola visually divides them into distinct rooms.
Zillow Digs home in Wenatchee, WA
Ready to Roll
Roller shades can be the solution to all your weather woes, allowing you to welcome or block out the elements as you see fit. As a bonus, these handy dividers also add a layer of privacy so you can create a place for intimate conversation whenever the moment calls for it.
Zillow Digs home in Ventura, CA
If your exterior has an empty nook, cranny, or corner, use it as an opportunity to squeeze in a DIY deck. The L-shaped recess of this home perfectly accommodates a small structure that grants these homeowners all the joys of an outdoor living space without taking up too much of the backyard. Wide steps make the deck seem larger, while a white-painted pergola and neutral furnishings complete the look.
Zillow Digs home in Perkasie, PA
Outdoor sofas have the potential to create loads of backyard seating, but they can also swallow up a lot of space with their height and bulk. Secure neutral or patterned cushions to a portion of the deck for a solution that adds a spot to rest your feet without adding much visual weight.
The floor of your deck can pack just as serious a style punch as the furniture that adorns it. Deck out a humdrum build by cutting a custom motif out of cardboard, tracing it onto the floor, and filling in the resulting pattern with glossy oil-based deck paint. This floret design, inspired by a stenciled rug, adds whimsy without sacrificing sophistication to create a personalized touch that is sure to stand out.
Think beyond the standard patio table and chairs to transform your deck from a passive sitting spot into a hardworking gathering hub. Here, a cozy chair, wooden bench, and coffee table serve as an understated eating area, while the rest of the space is fully stocked with a grill, sink, countertop, and fridge—all the makings for a successful barbecue with friends and family.
Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newsletter today!