From succulent gardens to hot tubs, these backyard (and rooftop!) tricks and details should inspire your own outdoor living situation
Bring out the striped cushions and colorful umbrellas, and get transported to a dream vacation spot right in your backyard. The deck is made of sustainable ipe wood that has weathered to a soft gray. Drought-tolerant plants need only yearly trimming and occasional watering—which leaves plenty of time to kick back on a lounge chair and bask in the sun.
A deck wraps around most of this updated ranch house, almost doubling its square footage. This side of the home—technically the front yard—is shaded by the line of cottonwood trees that acts as a windbelt.
This backyard is optimized for relaxation. A rock wall fringed with Berkeley sedge separates a lower paved patio from a raised redwood deck and hot tub. The level change makes the small backyard appear larger. Columnar Hollywood junipers (Juniperus torulosa) cluster to the left of the deck, while a hedge of pineapple guavas (Feijoa sellowiana) grows against the back fence (made of cedar but stained to look like redwood). At night, strings of bistro lights emit a soft glow, like starlight, above the hot tub.
Invite in light
The 20- by 80-foot yellow cedar deck serves as an adjunct living space for this summer home on Washington''s wide-ranging seasons. Overstuffed furniture is upholstered in Sunbrella indoor-outdoor fabric to prevent fading.
Party on the deck
See our guide to building a wrap-around deck
A good deck can capture a view, create a comfortable outdoor room, and add a feeling of spaciousness to your home by blurring the boundaries between inside and out.
This partly sheltered deck serves as an indoor-outdoor space connecting a family room with a patio. Classically simple, it is a great transitional element for nearly any style of house. You can even build it yourself!
Gray is the perfect color for adding subtle detail, like this painted deck. Imagine it with a color—fun, but with an entirely different feel. Soft gray plays against the pink for a restful, feminine vibe.
Taming a slope
A deck at the top of this sloping backyard transformed the space into an inviting destination for taking in the view.
The rear edge of the 15- by 24-foot deck notches into the hill. A low retaining wall holds the uphill section in place and doubles as another bench seat.
With interior space at a premium, these homeowners make the most of their backyard that effectively doubles their living space. With the big kitchen window and glass door (which is typically left open on nice days), they consider it an extension of their great room. During the summer, they do a lot of al fresco dining, hosting friends for barbeques, and lots of time playing with their child and dog. In addition to the expansive deck, there''s addition made room for a rooftop garden just off the master bedroom’s deck where the family grows herbs, strawberries, and a mini succulent garden, showing a lot can be packed into a small outdoor space.
On the water
At this stunning lakeside home, a barely visible frameless glass rail makes deck dwellers for 1 last update 27 May 2020 feel as though they’re perched on the prow of a ship. The home designer outfitted the space with a sofa, fire table, and rockers. “The fireplace has a wide lip that doubles as a table for drinks and small plates,” she says. Floor-level speakers cast music toward the house instead of toward neighbors. At this stunning lakeside home, a barely visible frameless glass rail makes deck dwellers feel as though they’re perched on the prow of a ship. The home designer outfitted the space with a sofa, fire table, and rockers. “The fireplace has a wide lip that doubles as a table for drinks and small plates,” she says. Floor-level speakers cast music toward the house instead of toward neighbors.
This ipe wood deck is flush with the black slate floor extended from inside the home. The dark flooring creates the perfect backdrop for contrasting pops of bright orange.
Poised for the view
This tiny deck off the side of this modern cabin home proves that you don''s deck was built from plans in Sunset’s How to Build Decks for Outdoor Living, published in 1972. Large sliding doors open from the kitchen onto the space featuring a chic outdoor cone fireplace, where guests tend to migrate after dinner.
This deck was constructed from bits and pieces left behind by the house’s previous owners. Before building anything structural out of found materials, have a contractor or carpenter check the materials for damage.
Front-yard entry deck
Small Tuscan House Planshow to Small Tuscan House Plans for Instead of stairs, a three-level deck steps up to the front door of this raised post-and-pier-house on the island of Oahu.
Tropical accessories on the deck and throughout the garden turned this entry into a personal paradise.
Fire pit focal point
This deck more than doubles the home''s floor sits 3½ feet above ground, so the deck needed to provide a gradual descent into the garden.
Seven steps connect the deck''s seating on the top and bottom levels, and storage beneath the deck for the couple''s seaside-inspired backyard in Los Osos, California, is as inviting for two as it is for a crowd; the Wolls have entertained as many as two dozen guests, comfortably, on the deck.
Benches of ipe wood wrap around most of the deck (also made of ipe), providing generous seating.
Small Tuscan House Planshow to Small Tuscan House Plans for Garden plants ― Pittosporum tenuifolium '', and Acacia cognata ― require little in the way of watering and upkeep. A tiny succulent in a square pot serves as a simple table centerpiece.
Create an Outdoor Bar
Outdoor chefs need a place to put their tools, and bartenders must have a bar. The concrete side table beneath the pergola provides room for both while also functioning as a serving counter or buffet table.
Two square cabinets on casters, tucked underneath provide storage. They can also be rolled into action as serving tables or additional seating.
Small Tuscan House Planshow to Small Tuscan House Plans for A raised concrete trough filled with recycled glass keeps the dining deck warm on cool nights.
When not in use, the gas firepit can be covered with a slab of ipe wood, which converts it into a coffee table.
Small Tuscan House Planshow to Small Tuscan House Plans for David Polifko transformed his backyard with three decks of different for 1 last update 2020/05/27 sizes, at three different levels.David Polifko transformed his backyard with three decks of different sizes, at three different levels.
A deck also wraps around an 8-feet-square teahouse, angled to fit a tight corner.
A deck surrounded by a fountain and pond creates an island of calm in the middle of San Francisco.
Small Tuscan House Planshow to Small Tuscan House Plans for The water features create an urban habitat that attracts birds and can sustain the 1 last update 2020/05/27 fish and turtles.The water features create an urban habitat that attracts birds and can sustain fish and turtles.
Small is beautiful
Two varieties of bamboo (green the 1 last update 2020/05/27 canes and black) act as a privacy screen along the back fence, while Pittosporum undulatum and a bronze-leafed Japanese maple shade the corners.Two varieties of bamboo (green canes and black) act as a privacy screen along the back fence, while Pittosporum undulatum and a bronze-leafed Japanese maple shade the corners.
Design: Greg Unti, Bella Vita Garden Design, San Francisco (415/ 648-0100)
Small space update
Creating a colorful outdoor living room from an unruly yard can seem intimidating. But by breaking down the process into a series of manageable tasks, busy parents Trina and Mark Whiteley were able to refresh their small Palo Alto, CA deck.
Built of Mangaris ― a dark, eco-friendly hardwood also known as red balau ― a new deck spans the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom of this Hollywood Hills home, expanding the usable outdoor space from 120 square feet for 1 last update 2020/05/27 to almost 900.Built of Mangaris ― a dark, eco-friendly hardwood also known as red balau ― a new deck spans the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom of this Hollywood Hills home, expanding the usable outdoor space from 120 square feet to almost 900.
Small Tuscan House Planshow to Small Tuscan House Plans for Triple and quadruple sliding glass doors on two sides of the living room bring in the view and create an easy transition between indoors and out.
Measuring 6 feet by 9 feet, this former light well functions as an outdoor shower off a master bedroom in a San Francisco Victorian. A tall outside wall hides it from view; you get to it through French doors.
After owners Alison and David Cameron moved in, they hired a plumber to hook up the shower. The redwood 2-by-6 decking serves as duckboard: water trickles between the boards and falls to a lower area with a drain.
The deck opens to the sky and makes a welcoming, wind-sheltered location for houseplants that periodically come out for a shower of their own. A shelf along one wall provides extra space for smaller plants.
Before this deck went in, this area between the main house and garage was a repository for old appliances and other discards.
Now it''s vacation in Costa Rica.