Ten great tips for creating the perfect deck Back when I first entered the glamorous world of garden furniture I spent all day everyday delivering direct to our customers homes.  My first experience was in Sydney Australia and I was lucky enough to see some stunning gardens on a daily basis.  Sydney is a great place to learn your trade in the garden furniture business and also a great place to see and visit some of the world’s greatest outdoor spaces.  Check out this stunning example of a deck that flows from the interior to the exterior.  This photo was taken in Sydney and as they say in Sydney “she’s a beaut!” sydney deck I think Sydney is still the world’s number one place to live?  I seem to remember it was always being voted the best place to live and a big part of the appeal is their outdoor living mantra.  Basically everyday is a bbq day and every evening is a chance to embrace the outdoor living culture with drinks on the decks.  Having delivered to and therefore seen a few decks in my time I thought it might be interesting to do a top ten tips for a successful deck.  Not all of these decks shown in this blog are from Sydney but all of the ideas come from my early days standing on decks just like these some 20 years ago! 1) Accessories your deck All to often you see a completed deck with very little on it.  It is way to boring to just have a deck and not properly accessorized!  You would not leave your lounge with just a sofa and a TV in it, would you?  You go to the bother of hanging art or placing your favorite book on the shelves when you are finishing a room inside so why leave your outdoor space so spartan?  A key theme that will run throughout this blog is the idea of creating an outdoor space that flows from the inside out.  That’s to say that the best decks and further more that best outdoor spaces have a continuity between the inside of the house and the outside.  If the above photo doesn’t show us the benefits of this inside  / outside flow then nothing does! plant pots on deck   You can get some great plant pots that can really bring a deck to life.  Check out these plant pots in pastel green.  Choose a colour that compliments the inside of your house.  If you are lucky enough to have some sliding doors then the colour really matters as it will create the impression that the inside and outside are as one. 2) Stain your deck Don’t let your deck get tired and old looking.  Keep it fresh and new with good quality deck oil.  In my experience you are better off using stained oil as it gives the deck a more vibrant colour.  Again if you consider your indoor wood flooring you would never just leave it to get old and grey.  You need to feed the wood with some oil from time to time and your deck is no different.  If you go for good quality deck oil then once a year is more than enough to maintain a great looking deck. oiled finish deck 3) Light up your deck lights on deck 2 Nothing brightens up a deck more than lights!  Create a sophisticated and classy outdoor space with the use of lights.  I find that lights sunk into the deck give a real feel of quality and yet this is not that hard to do.  There is normally lots of room under the deck to run the wires required to install the lights and if this is not a job you fancy yourself you should not have much trouble finding a local tradesman to do the honors.  Better still if you can add a dimmer switch to the lights you can manipulate the mood as you see fit. lights on decking 4) Turn your deck into an outdoor room As I have said earlier in this article the general theme for improving the deck is to try and bring a little of your indoor design to the decking area.  Think creatively when deciding on what to do with your deck.  I love this idea of having an outdoor dresser.  This family has even gone to the bother of incorporating their BBQ into the dresser.  I am calling it a dresser as it reminds me of a kitchen dresser but really it is just a few shelves designed to create the impression of an outdoor cupboard.  Again you could use some outdoor paint to try and tie the colour in with your inside décor. outdoor cuboard 5) Add a little curve appeal Not all decks have to be square.  In fact some of the best decks don’t have any straight lines.  Don’t be scared to ask for some rounded edges before the deck has been installed.  Craftsmen have a habit of doing things the easy way so may at first be a little reluctant but you are the ones living with the finished article for many years to come so be adventurous in the design stages.  Curves will draw your eye in and lead you around the garden.  Here are a couple of great looking curved decks that really look fantastic. multi layer deck 6) Use more than one layer Building the deck on more than one level is another way to move your eye around the garden.  The different levels create a more interesting vista and give the garden a more dynamic appeal.  It can give the outdoor space a more grand appearance and certainly is not a boring as a flat deck with little or no depth.  Take a look at this multi level deck.  The area is not very big but the various levels really uses the space well and gives the garden a classy feel.  This deck has also employed our first tip, which was to accessories.  As you can see here the various plant pots and the subtle water feature have been used to create a tranquil yet quality feel to the garden. GPGL01-00014466-001 7) Blur the lines between indoor and outdoor As I have said a few times the very best decks tend to be those that blend perfectly with their surroundings.  The ones where the transition from outside to inside is smooth and sometimes even seamless.  This is not always possible and it does depend on the weather where you live.  If you are luck enough to live in Bali then the whole indoor / outdoor vibe is very much the done thing!  For the rest of us we need to consider our own climate and make design choices accordingly.  For me the by fold doors are a perfect solution.  In the winter months the door remain almost permanently closed but come the summer months you can fold them all back and create that open plan feel.  Again you have to think of your garden as an extension to the house and put the same time and effort into the outdoor décor as you do with the inside. deck2a This deck has incorporated a seating area and also a blanket box.  This is not only practical but also creates that homely feel.  It creates the feeling that the outdoor space is very much part of the house.  What about this contemporary deck?  This deck has accessorised with a few cushions but has also taken the time to ensure that the colour theme matches throughout.  In this case it is quite a blank canvas but depending on your indoor space the use of colour can be easy and actually very cost effective. 8) Be bold Get the creative juices flowing and try to be bold with your outdoor spaces.  A deck can really bring a garden to life so try and be bold with your design ideas.  Rather than just having a great big square or rectangular deck directly outside your patio door why not incorporate the deck throughout the garden.  Check this deck out.  I love the way the deck weaves its way around the plants. The deck looks expensive but it needn’t break the bank.  With some cleaver planting the deck will come alive and after all the deck itself is not that sophisticated a build.  The construction has just been cleverly done and the choice of plants has really lifted the look and feel of this deck. deck through garden 9) Invest in quality This is a tip that comes with any purchase in my opinion.  There is nothing worse than spending all your time running through all of the other nine tips here and then failing at the last hurdle.  If you don’t buy quality then you will be doing one of two things.  You will be either living with a shoddy looking deck that rots and looks cheap and nasty within a couple of years or you will end up replacing the deck with a new one!  Either way you would have been better of buying quality in the first place.  Top tip number nine is buy quality and look after it! deck4 10) Use furniture to bring it all together I couldn’t resist this last one!  If you have managed to master the other nine tips then your last job is to properly furnish your deck.  This will be the finishing touch and will ensure that the deck not only looks great but also gets lots of use.  Decks look cold and empty with no furniture on them so think about what you want to use the deck for and then furnish it accordingly.  If you are planning to dine on the deck then consider a dining table and chairs.  There are lots of options so choose one that best suits the area.  All to often you see a horrible plastic table and chairs that has been sat on the deck.  The attitude being that it doesn’t matter and its only for outside.  Why go to the expensive and time and effort to create a great outdoor space only to ruin it with some cheap garden furniture? contemporary decking Think about what ties in best with the rest of the house.  Again we are trying to continue the design of the inside of the house outside.  If you have a country kitchen styled little cottage then look for suitable furniture to match.  There are all manner of different options on the market and garden furniture has never been so varied and accessible. Try to marry up the décor both inside and outside as well as the look and feel of the style of house you have with the garden furniture you choose. Flat weave rattan garden furniture is great for contemporary houses or apartments.  Tubular rattan garden furniture is a more classic traditional weave and therefore works well with Victorian homes or even Cotswold styled houses.  You could choose teak garden furniture or even Aluminum that comes in a variety of colours as well as shapes and sizes.  I think a separate blog is required to go through all the various garden furniture options! I will get to work on that now!  Most important is to try and get something that matches your design and suits the environment you have created.  Buy quality and make sure it’s comfortable and you can’t go wrong! Checklist for a great looking deck: • Accessories – Use plant pots and water features to bring the deck to life. • Decking Oil - Properly look after the deck with oil and stain. • Add a little light – adding lights will really enhance the look of your deck. • Outdoor Lounge – Turn your deck into an outdoor room. • Curve appeal – use irregular shapes – not just straight lines • Levels add depth – have more than one layer to your deck. • Smooth transition – make inside blur into outside. • Bold is beautiful – let your imagination run wild. • Buy quality once and it will last a lifetime • Use furniture to tie it all together.