How to Determine Your Deck Style

Learn what factors and styles to consider when planning your deck.
Inviting Outdoor Space

Multi Level Deck Design

Photo courtesy of Timber Tech

Photo by: TimberTech


Photo courtesy of Timber Tech
By: Peter Walsh

There are endless possibilities for styles of decks from simple to elaborate, a single landing to multiple levels. Recent trends lean toward decks that have multiple levels, each with a specific purpose. In multiple-level designs, the main level closest to the house typically serves as a large open-air grilling and dining area.

The next level down would be designed for an intimate lounging and quiet living room setting. Step down another level and enjoy a fire pit or hot tub. These levels might be just one or two steps down, but they have the feeling of a whole separate room.

Decks can be designed for double-duty uses. A raised deck attached to the second floor of the home serves as a dining, grilling and lounging area. Underneath that raised deck might be a screened porch or an open patio with the uppermost deck acting as a ceiling enclosing the lower space.

Spend some time with an enlarged photo of the back of your house and some tracing paper to help visualize how your new deck might look on your house. Here's how:

  • Take a clear photo of the back of your home.
  • Print it out and blow it up to at least 8" by 10".
  • Place a piece of tracing paper over the printout and sketch your ideal deck onto the paper, "attaching" the deck to the house.
  • Try several versions and include railing and stair details. These sketches will help you narrow down your ideas or at least give your builder or designer a reference as to how you want your deck to look.

Determining Your Deck Design

For continuity, you can match the architectural style of your house to the new deck. For example, a dark-colored deck with white balustrade railing and a dark rail cap would complement a traditional-style home. A deck stained in all one color with clean lines and sharp angles might suit a contemporary home.

While most of the foundation of the deck remains the same, the railing details are where you can personalize your space.

Amazing Deck Designs

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Of course, you could take a different approach in customizing your space. Make your deck resemble a tropical oasis with exotic big-leafed plants and swinging hammocks. Create a shabby-chic look with rustic furniture and faded fabrics, or reinvent an English garden overflowing with flowers and climbing vines draped on intricate trelliswork.

How you enhance your deck is up to you, but it's best to keep the structure of the deck simple and nearly neutral, the same way you might decorate a room inside your house. Adding punches of bright color with removable cushions, umbrellas and plants means the deck will be ready for resale at any time. It will be the ideal canvas for staging a neutral palette quickly and without much expense.

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