Deck Design With Your Space In Mind

Welcome to the first installment in a series designed to help you understand and navigate the steps to getting the outdoor living space of your dreams. This week, we will focus on designing your deck.


Designing With Your Space in Mind

A well-designed deck can do amazing things to enhance beautiful views, provide a transition from the interior of your home to your backyard and even make an uneven backyard a more usable space. When designing your deck, look around your space – your house, back and side yards and the areas surrounding your house – to see what portions a deck could help you improve or enhance. Do you have a severely sloping backyard that would benefit from the extra level space a deck can provide? Do you have a beautiful view that would make the perfect backdrop for entertaining, events and photo opportunities? Would a deck provide a perfect transition from your home to your beautifully-landscaped backyard?

How you plan to use your deck will have an impact on the answers to some of these questions. For example, will you be eating on your deck a lot? If so, you may want to ensure that the space you plan to use for your dining area is close to the kitchen, to minimize how far you have to carry food.  Regardless of your plans for your deck, you should consider transitions and how you will want to use sun and shade, both of which are discussed in more detail below.


One of the easiest ways to ensure that your deck will be used frequently is making the transitions easy and appealing. There are two types of transitions to consider when designing your deck – the transition from the interior of your home to the deck and the transition from your deck to your yard.

[caption id="attachment_3064" align="alignright" width="299"]Deck built with Fiberon Horizon Ipe by Heritage Deck Design & Construction of New Jersey
Deck built with Fiberon Horizon Ipe by Heritage Deck Design & Construction of New Jersey[/caption]

When you think about how you will want to move from house to deck, where is the door you will use located? Is it on the first or second floor? Does it swing in or slide? What about the visual transition? Will you be able to see the deck from inside your house? How can you ensure that the indoor and outdoor living areas flow seamlessly into each other?

You also need to consider how you will transition from your deck to your yard. Is the deck elevated or at ground level? If it’s elevated, you will probably need stairs (although we’ve seen some pretty creative transitions, like this fun slide).

Keeping in mind the types of traffic (kids, pets, elderly friends or relatives etc.) that will be most common, what is the safest and easiest way to get from the deck to the yard?  Is it one straight set of stairs, or are there one or more landings in between sets of stairs to provide for easy resting points? There are many ways to structure the transitions to provide a safe and effective flow from your house to your outdoor living space.

Sun and Shade

The ideal weather for enjoying your deck is warm and sunny with a nice breeze, but you don’t want to reduce the number of days you can use your deck by not planning a little for those less than perfect deck days. When designing your deck, think about creating a balance of sun and shade. Where will the sun be during the times when you’re likely to use it most? For example, if the deck will be westward facing, you might have intense sun in your face while trying to enjoy a nice evening meal. While it can be harder to manufacture a way to get more sun on your deck, getting more shade can be accomplished fairly easily with a little planning.

You can create shade with a structure, such as a pergola or lattice-work wall with the added benefit of creating a little more privacy, or maybe your area is prone to mosquitoes in the summer and a screened in area would enhance your enjoyment of the space? Another option is to use a deck umbrella or install an awning.

Deck Shape

Once you have a good idea of these basic requirements, it’s time to think about what shape you want. Do you want a square or rectangular deck, or do you want curves or angled corners? These decisions will affect the cost of your deck. You’ll also need to take into account the shape of the area you want your deck and whether there are any obstructions in the space, like trees, that might become a problem.


Designing your deck is only the first part of an exciting journey. Stay tuned for our next installment in this series designed to walk you through the ins and outs of achieving the outdoor space you’ve been dreaming of - Decking Materials.
Or, if you can’t wait, download our free white paper, What to Expect When You’re Decking.