Unique Deck Designs

outdoor wood furniture on wet curved deck

As spring beckons, our minds turn to ways we can spend more time outdoors. A deck can be a great primary gathering place for family and friends to enjoy good weather and company, and often the money spent provides a parallel return on investment.

Maybe you have a deck that needs some sprucing up, or you have a clean slate to work with. Either way, here are some unique deck designs and ideas to help get the juices flowing.

Leave Wood Behind

Cedar and pressure-treated wood are most commonly used for building decks since they are weather-resistant, easy to cut, and age well outside. Don’t feel caged in by wood products, however, as the market has evolved to include other options like composite and PVC products, as well as decorative concrete.

With the price of wood right now, it may be worth looking at different materials. Try mixed mediums like PVC boards and metal railings for a slick look. TREX, Timbertech, and AZEK are a few companies to look for some ideas.

person installing plastic composite boards

Go Bold with Color

Unique stains and exterior paint colors can make a big splash, whether it’s for a poolside deck or one surrounded by garden space. If your deck is in a sunny area, lighter colors won’t heat up like darker ones, and high-quality composite products won’t get any hotter than wood.

Stripes and patterns are also popular: try interlocking two different colored composite boards, or choose to make one section a different shade, like a walkway for instance, to help make an area stand out.

Dark grey stains for deck boards can look handsome with black trim and PVC wrappings. Don’t be afraid to make a statement.

Think Outside the Box!

The most common decks are square or rectangular, which often serves a functional and budget-friendly purpose: it’s easier to plan, and therefore cheaper to install. If you aren’t stuck on a tight budget and have the space to play with, try imagining different shapes, patterns, or combinations in your deck design.

For example, hexagonal decks can provide the extra room you want for entertaining, and built-in cantilevers can create nooks for barbecues, or separate spaces for lounging.

composite deck around pool


Most decks are pretty simple when they are designed and have only one purpose in mind: a seating area. They are generally built off the house and provide space for people to sit, eat, and entertain.

If you have a clean slate to work with, now is the time to think about whether you may want to add a pool, or other landscaping ideas like garden space, trees, gazebos, ponds, or other hardscapes. Don’t limit yourself to only thinking about the deck, but think about how the deck may be one aspect of a larger project.

Design with Your Home in Mind

If you are putting in a deck off your house, this is the best time to think about changing how the interior layout meets the outside. Existing exterior doors don’t have to stay where they are.

Perhaps you want to put in sliding doors from the dining room where there weren’t any to lead onto the deck, or create a mudroom in between the deck and entry door space. Think about how you use the space that connects the outside to the inside: do you have kids and pets and need space for boots and other supplies?

If exterior walls are being removed or extended, now could be a good time to put in a main floor bathroom, as well. While it will likely up your costs, better to do these upgrades all at the same time so the design is fluid.

dark deck boards in natural landscape

Budget Deck Designs

Don’t let a tight budget deter you from having a cool deck. DIY design ideas have come a long way, so take a look around your neighborhood for ideas, and browse internet sites to get some inspo.

Incorporate your deck around a large tree, add custom seating, or choose a unique board design: something as simple as running them diagonally instead of straight can add that extra bit of pizzazz you are looking for, and may be cost-effective if you are doing the work yourself.

Create your own planters, scrounge garage sales for materials, and consider old pallet boards for built-in seating or privacy walls, as they are generally available for free.

Deck Accessories

Lights, furniture, lanterns, gazebos, plant life, oh my! Decorating your deck once its built is the most exciting part, and can often add the most style.

Look for trends and specials on outdoor furniture and accessories at big box stores, browse second-hand stores, and keep your eye out for garage sales for a mix of contemporary and eclectic materials.

Ferns, majesty palms, planters, and hanging baskets are all excellent choices for some greenery – just make sure you choose the appropriate ones for full sun or shade.

deck with lattice and pergola


Maybe you already have a deck and it’s in great shape, but you want to add some extras. A pergola is a simple and cost-effective way to create some shade, either over the whole deck or just partially. Pergolas with trellises are great ways to grow clematis, fruit vines, and other trailing plants, as well as places for hanging string lights.

Add a second story deck to create a patio area underneath with a trendy variegated metal roof overhead. Integrate eco-friendly options like drainage systems that flow rain water into rain gardens, basins, or rain barrels. Custom caps and built-in planters are simple additions to incorporate into the design.

As deck season is upon us, don’t delay in getting your project started. You may want to get some ideas first and then get a professional to draw up plans, especially if you need permits. Whether your budget is sky-high, or rock bottom, there are unique deck designs to make anyone’s outdoor dreams come true.