How to Design a Deck
This is a guest post courtesy of Matt Doyle, the Vice President and Co-founder of Excel Builders.
For the socialites of the world, there’s nothing better than hosting a party for your friends and family. Some people dream of buying a home that has enough space in the backyard to design a dream deck that is capable of holding the best parties they can imagine. If you’re such a person, and you want to design a deck in your backyard that can make your dreams a reality, here’s how you can make it happen.
Plan for Seating Arrangements
The absolute first thing to consider in your design plans is seating arrangements. No matter what kind of backyard parties you want to throw, you’re going to need places for people to sit around each other.
You’ll need to consider two types of parties you may want to throw: the more typical gathering, and the biggest bash you think you would ever host. This helps you plan the primary seating that you’ll use most often, and your maximum capacity seating that takes advantage of alternative seating (for example, adjacent flat areas of the lawn) to make up the difference.
Primary seating would include all your chairs, lounges, stools and so on, and can either be furniture that you place after the deck is built or that you have built into the deck itself. Meanwhile, alternative seating may include things like ottomans, benches, or other furniture that can be converted into seating. You’ll want to make sure that your deck design has the space and configuration to accommodate both your primary and maximum capacity seating arrangements without being too crowded.
Make Room for Your Cooking Area
If you like to impress with foods, odds are you’ll want to have a great BBQ area to grill your favorites for social and dinner foods. Like with the seating arrangements, you’ll want to think of just how big and involved you want your cooking area to be. Do you want a small space for your typical barbeque? Or do you want a full on outdoor kitchen with counters for food preparation, a sink, and cupboards for storage?
When designing your outdoor kitchen you’ll want to keep the following in mind:
- Cooking type — do you want one or more BBQs, an open BBQ pit, a stone oven for pizzas, and so on?
- Cooking zones — you’ll need hot zones for the cooking, dry zones for the food prep, wet zones for cleaning and cold zones for storing perishable foods and drink
- Landing areas — spaces around the cooking areas so you can either put food and ingredients you’ll need at hand while cooking, or space to drop food as it comes hot off the grill
These will all help dictate the size and arrangement of the features you’ll need to create your dream outdoor cooking area.
Include an Outdoor Bar
If you fancy yourself a master of mixed drinks, you may want to focus your deck’s design around a designated bar area where you can store, mix and serve drinks to your guests. There are a few parts to consider:
- Refrigeration — how many and/or how large do you want your fridge to be to keep drinks cool and ice on hand?
- Storage — what kind and size storage do you need for all your bottles, glasses, napkins, utensils, etc?
- Seating — if you have bar stools, make sure the height and legroom are comfortable for guests,
- Covering — if your area is known for rain or mosquitoes, think about including things like a retractable overhang or some kind of screen or netting
If you don’t want to have something like a traditional bar with a high counter and stools, you can always consider something more like a lounge with something else – like a fire pit – as the focal point, with on hand fridges or coolers that you can build into some of the furniture or deck features.
Consider Different Lighting Options
If you’re going to be holding parties, odds are you’ll have some that start in the daylight and end during twilight. That means you’re going to need to have lighting prepared for different types of situations. When it’s dark, you’ll want your main seating area to have mood lighting that isn’t too bright, but for your cooking or bar areas you’ll want full lighting so you can see what you’re doing. You’ll also want to have lighting that clearly marks things like steps, railings and other obstacles so people don’t have an accident.
For your cooking or bar areas, you can use the same type of lighting principles as your kitchen: bright LEDs that are aimed at illuminating the counter space. For your seating area, you can rely on things like a fire pit, candles or hanging lanterns and string lights with lower brightness to set the mood at night. For stairs or obstacles, the best bet is to use inset deck lights that are bright enough to be seen but small enough to not be intrusive.
About the Author:
Matt Doyle is the Vice-President and Co-Founder of Excel Builders, a custom home building company serving Delaware and Maryland. The company specializes in ICF and custom-built, energy efficient homes. Matt grew up in the construction industry and he has a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Alabama. He also has an extensive background in internet marketing and has worked with some well-known international companies such as Best Western, McGraw Hill Construction, Sharp, and Canon.