Deck Design Considerations (PART 6):
Think about these essential factors when designing a new deck so it fits the site and meets your needs.
Now that you’ve determined the functional characteristics of your deck design, you need to consider the “look” of the deck and how it will blend with the existing style of the house. Some of the factors to take into account are contrasts and continuity, as well as shape, elevation, and materials.
Level changes are a great way to introduce contrast and interest. They can punctuate transitions from one function to another. Varying levels can also help introduce changes in style (as from wood decking to a rock walkway), or provide a great place for accessories. Level changes also allow a deck to follow the contours of the land, preventing a hillside home from having a deck that towers high above ground level.
Contrasts. How can we best blend the functional and aesthetic to produce a visually successful deck? In his book The Good House, architect Max Jacobson writes that good design “is the production of harmony through the orchestration of strong contrasts.” In my experience, good designs are full of contrasts: short and tall, open and enclosed, dark and light. Colors can be warm or cool. Spaces can be wide open or secluded. Railings can be bulky and solid or unobtrusive to the point of near invisibility. In fact, planned contrasts can actually be wonderful solutions to necessary compromises. Just as the deck is a transitional space between indoors and out, sections of the deck serve as transitions to other deck areas, and these transitions offer opportunities for introducing contrast.
Why is contrast desirable? Because differences sharpen our experiences and let us adjust our environment to our momentary needs. We can choose warm and sunny or dark and cool. We may want a maximum of social interaction or seclusion. At the very least, decks should have small areas that are more isolated than others, such as a hidden bench in a strategic location, screened by a level change or greenery.
Courtesy of Scott Schuttner via Fine Homebuilding