Dress the deck
With a bit of accessorising and a few layers of softness, a deck can become an outdoor room of its own, especially if you frame it with screening. Choose weatherproof furnishings and adorn the table and screen wall with pots of greenery to really transform a space.
Australian hardwood is durable and usually a sustainable choice, but look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) tick of approval to be sure your selection comes from an ethically managed forest. Recycled hardwood has character built up over a long history while bamboo decking is hard-wearing and has great eco credentials. If your deck doesn’t require structural work, modular decking tiles will quickly and easily fit out existing surfaces.
Good lighting will bring your deck to life at night. Go beyond floodlights to include multiple sources of soft lighting such as lanterns, pendants and LEDs. Outdoor lighting designer Pekka Uusi-Hakimo of Nitetime Designs likes to hide recessed lights into the deck and steps to create a smooth wash of light over the area and its access points. As for adding ambience, use small uplights to gently illuminate plants.
Size it up
What do you want to use the deck for? If it’s intended as a dining or entertaining space, room to move is integral. A deck should be a relaxing place to ease into – you don’t want to have to shuffle everyone around every time one person gets up,” says landscape designer Brent Reid of Candeo. Be sure your deck accommodates your furniture, has space for chairs to move in and out and clearance for outward swinging doors. Roughly a metre of comfortable circulation room around the perimeter is ideal.
Planning makes perfect
Start with a phone call to your local council to get the run-down on local regulations. On-ground decks that are away from boundary lines might not require approval, so ask about exemptions to speed up the process. A good registered builder will be able to steer your project within the parameters of building codes and organise structural engineering when necessary. If you’re planning to tackle the project yourself, you may need to register as an owner-builder, taking on the legal responsibility personally. Careful attention will have to be paid if the deck is more than one metre off the ground at any point, if it’s mounted onto the house, if you live in a bushfire-prone area and if it leads out to a pool.