The process of creating a deck plan, selecting a suitable site and choosing the appropriate features to include should be done with the intention of taking advantage of all of the unique features of your home and backyard as well as the needs of the family members and their aesthetic preferences. A good deck design grows out of existing conditions and does not create the feeling that the resulting deck was forced onto the site. The important thing is to focus on the 6 design principles that will help you achieve the goal of creating a satisfying and successful deck.
Principle #1: The deck should be accessible and cause its occupants to want to make use of it. Homeowners, relatives, friends and other guests will not use a deck that is difficult to reach. It should be accessible from the home's interior spaces such as the family room, the kitchen, dining or living room or a hallway. The ideal situation would have the deck accessed by several entrances from different rooms. Doorways should be wide enough to encourage the transition from indoors to outdoors. Glass doors help to maintain the illusion that the deck is actually a part of the house interior. Entry to the deck from the garden should be appealing. Wide steps can create a dramatic flair but should be placed to allow practical traffic movement for the deck users. Lighting should be utilized to encourage evening access and provide a measure of safety.
Principle #2: The deck should be a pleasant and comfortable area. The deck design should take into consideration the direction of the wind, the movement of the sun's rays and areas of shade. A privacy screen can provide a sound barrier, a windscreen and/or privacy in any backyard environment. The deck can be located in such a way as to take full advantage of the sun while also offering a shaded area to suit the individual preferences of its occupants. Attention can also be given to orienting the deck in such a way as to provide visual access to pleasing views such as water features, gardens, etc.
Principle #3: The deck should provide a sense of privacy and seclusion. This can be achieved by locating the deck where it is able to utilize fences, house walls, trees, shrubs and privacy screens. Multi-level decks can provide deck areas that are low enough for privacy but still provide access to the house. Deck railings, low benches and container plants can work together to soften the deck perimeter and create a sense of enclosure.
Principle #4: A deck's size should be in proportion to its intended uses and the space that is available. A deck area intended for an activity such as dining should be approximately the same size as the home's interior dining room. A deck that will serve multipurposes should have those distinct areas separated by level changes, by the shape of the deck or by the use of container plants, benches or other special amenities. Each area should exude a feeling of comfort. A really successful deck design provides space for movement in and out of the house to each area but is sized in such a way to provide possibilities for quiet conversation or larger group activities.
Principle #5: A deck should fit in perfectly with its setting. When viewed from any point in the backyard, the deck should blend in with the style of the house and its surroundings to create a unified effect. The shape of the deck should mirror the existing forms in the backyard. Generally using simple shapes creates a more powerful design than utilizing complex ones. Railings should be used wisely in making a design statement. The use of stain or paint can be utilized to help a deck blend in with the house to which it is attached.
Principle #6: A deck should utilize one unifying element. The perfect deck design creates a feeling of wanting to visit the deck and stay. Several elements work together to create this unified effect. However a single feature or some kind of theme is the key to making everything work together. It could be the repetition of a decking pattern, the continuous line of benches, the style of the railing system or even the use of a single color. It should be a simple, basic element that is related in some way to a similar feature of the house or nearby garden structure such as a pergola, arbor, gazebo or shed.
Good deck design is no accident. It takes place when key elements and principles are utilized to create a space that reflects the needs and aesthetic preferences of its creator. A wise homeowner will concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Avoiding complex or overly ambitious designs is an important consideration.
The key is to take the time to plan the deck in the best possible way so that it will stand the test of time.
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More about
Deck Design Principles and Claim your 2
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