Deck Design-Where To Begin

People come in to our store every day asking for design advice.

Think About How You Will Use The Deck

This is the most important consideration. Do you throw big parties for 50 people, or is it mostly just the two of you? Do you like to eat dinner on the deck, or is it just a place to sit and watch the sunset? Do you want to incorporate a fire pit? Seating area? Do you want an elaborate outdoor kitchen? A small grill space? Neither? Think of your deck as an extension of your home. A transitional space between your interior spaces and your yard.

Think about the views

When planning your deck space, it is important to think about what your views will be sitting on the deck: What do you want to focus people’s attention on? What do you want to minimize or hide? It is also important to think about how the deck will look from inside your house as well. What will your neighbor’s view look like?

Height of the deck

Most people focus on the house-to-door transition. Should it be flush? A step down? But overlooked is the deck-to ground aspect. The lower a deck is to the ground, the more it feels visually connected to that space. So if you have a patio or a pool or other entertaining space adjacent to your deck, you should consider how the deck will connect or flow into those spaces.


Different levels add visual interest to a deck. They also create distinct areas of your deck. For example, you could have an eating area, a cooking area, and a gathering area. On the negative side though, it limits future flexibility for furniture placement, and distinct areas will also feel less connected.

Flooring details

Flooring can be installed any direction- parallel to the house, perpendicular, angled; or any combination of these. If you have different levels you can change direction of the flooring to provide a visual cue of the level change. Borders and seam boards can also be added, and contrasting colors can add interest.


Some people love to have railing because it creates a sense of space, or some privacy. Others prefer railing only when absolutely necessary. Locally, railing is not required unless your deck floor is 30″ above the ground. If you want or need railing but have a beautiful view you want to retain, there are ways to open a deck up. For example, wide steps will not only eliminate the need for rail in that area, but also serve to draw your eye toward that open space.


Lighting is an often overlooked way to really make your deck stand out. Modern LED lighting is small and sleek, and there is a light for just about everywhere on a deck now. In floor lighting, post lights, post cap lights, under-rail lights, and step lights, just to name a few.


Built in seating is a great way to create a natural gathering area on your deck. Add some accent pillows, and you can bring the indoors to your deck.


Steps can be simple access points, or they can be stunning gateways to a gorgeous yard or pool area. Wide steps can bring a sense of connection  between the deck and the yard or patio space. They can also open up a view that would otherwise be obscured by railing.


I purposefully listed this last. My philosophy is that you should design the deck you want, then if it doesn’t meet your budget you can either decide to phase it in, or you can wait while your budget catches up to your dream.


Is that decking color too dark? Too light? Should the deck be a gray tone to compliment the kitchen floor, or a brown tone to compliment the brick? Should I use round balusters or square ones? Yes, all of these details are important. But don’t get so mired down in details that you forget to enjoy the process of adding a deck to your home. No matter which baluster you choose, your deck will be a beautiful space that you will get years of enjoyment from.


As always, we are here to help if you have questions about calculating materials, installation tips, or design guidance.

Happy building!