18 Design Ideas to Make Your Deck a Destination

Whatever its dimensions—expansive or small, narrow or wide—a deck is the ideal place to kick back and relax outdoors. But if you don't make the most of your deck, it can end up being just a bland stretch of wood—wasted space—rather than the attractive destination that it could be. Make use of every inch of your deck with these space-smart ideas for building, decorating, or maximizing its square footage so you can reap the benefits of sunshine and fresh air all season long.

Raise the Bar

Build in a 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. 

Related: 17 DIY Mini Bars to Mix Up Your Home Decor


Pretty Pergola

Add a Pergola to Your Deck

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. 

Related: 6 Steps to a Budget-Friendly Porch Makeover


Go Green

Go Overboard with Plants

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.

Related: 7 Ideas to Steal from Real People’s Tiny Backyards


The Power of Paint

Paint Your Deck to Match Your Home

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


Privacy, Please

Build a Privacy Screen

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


Narrow Escape

Keep Furniture Minimal for a Narrow Deck

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. 

Related: The Invincible Yard: 12 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

Zillow Digs home in Oakland, CA

Side Yard Save

Work Your Side Yard

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

Instructables via ishiyasu

Deck Definition

Define Your Deck with Pavers and Plants

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. 

Related: 8 Ways to Upgrade Your Backyard with Pavers

Zillow Digs home in Cupertino, CA

Fixed Vision

Add a Rustic Touch with Natural Elements

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. 

Related: 8 Tiny Backyard Buildings for Work or Play

Zillow Digs home in Portland, OR

Branch Out

Build Around Trees and Large Shrubs

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.

Related: 10 of the Best Trees for Any Backyard


String Theory

Try String Lights for Ambient Lighting

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.

Related: 9 Outdoor DIYs You Can Do for a Dollar


The Right Angle

Angle Your Deck

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.

Related: 9 Lessons Learned from Tiny Backyards

Zillow Digs home in Woodinville, WA

Double the Fun

Try a Two-in-One Design

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.

Related: 7 Ingenious IKEA Hacks for Your Backyard

Zillow Digs home in Wenatchee, WA

Ready to Roll

Install Roll-Down Window Shades for Privacy

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.

Related: Trading Places: 9 Reasons to Steal Furniture from Other Rooms

Zillow Digs home in Ventura, CA

Right-Sized Structure

Step Up Your Deck

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. 

Related: 13 Home Improvements That Are Illegal to DIY

Zillow Digs home in Perkasie, PA

Perfect Perch

Consider Built-In Seating

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.

Related: 10 No-Effort Plants for a Foolproof Landscape


Floor Decor

Paint Your Decking

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.

Related: 10 Backyard Wood Projects for Total Beginners


Grill Master

Create a Grilling Zone

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. 

Related: Design Ideas to Steal from 10 Amazing Outdoor Kitchens


Gather 'Round

Gather 'Round

No matter what size deck you have, these clever designs will make it a place you'll want to entertain, and where friends and family will want to gather.


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