Decked out: expanding stylish outdoor living spaces

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Looking to make an improvement to your home that’s innovative, trendy and gets the family spending more time outside? Give the patio a facelift! Boring decks are a thing of the past; whether you want to go big or make a few small changes, the deck of your dreams is absolutely within reach.

As society is seeing a renewed focus on all things natural, organic and simple, there’s no better example of this than in our homes. Recycled building materials, composting and conservation are becoming increasingly prevalent themes in home design, and nothing says “back to nature” like outdoor living spaces complete with all the accoutrements one could want. Trends such as increased size, tech accessories and customizable materials shift the deck from being an overlooked and underappreciated backyard add-on to an extension of the home.

Bigger is better
One of the most popular trends in deck design is simply making them larger. Decks are no longer being built only to house a grill and a couple of patio chairs. Today’s decks are much larger and more multidimensional; one deck with multiple different connected levels and pergolas can create the feeling that there are separate “rooms” throughout the deck. You can have a kitchen, hot tub area, sitting area, fire pit, children’s play area and more simply by using trends in multi-level and larger decks to your advantage.

Get materialistic
When it comes to deck building materials, traditional wood planks will certainly do the job, but composite boards are becoming more popular as trends shift toward more efficient and green materials. Typically made from a combination of recycled plastics and wood fibers, composite materials don’t require as much maintenance as wood does; they don’t need to be stained; won’t mold or mildew; they don’t splinter and they can be molded into curved shapes to make any deck you desire. Composite boards are also fire resistant, so you can add decorative porcelain tile on top and then set your grill, fire pit or chiminea there without worry of sparks creating a problem. They can also be made into super-chic colors, such as gray-hued or two-toned boards, and they’re practically unbreakable, so you can entertain on your deck often without worrying that you’ll wear it out!

Deck tech
You could spend all day–and night–on one of today’s popular decks. Technology is taking over as fireplaces, recessed lighting, fully functional kitchens and even televisions are being worked into deck designs. Having more technological options means people are spending more time on their patios; they don’t have to bring the party inside when the sun goes down or when the temperature gets chilly. Plus, some composite boards, such as Ti-Proboard, can be used with in-floor heating systems under porcelain tile to provide warmth on cool days and nights.

Your eyes are not deceiving you; you can watch a movie outside on your deck! And you don’t have to let rainy days get you down, either; weather is no longer an issue when it comes to decking out your patio with the newest tech. Builders can even create water-resistant pockets within the deck to keep electronics safely covered, and they can emerge at the touch of a button when you’re ready to use them.

Mix and match
Following trends in home design, modern deck designs incorporate several different materials to create an aesthetic that’s truly unique. From customizable composite materials to wood, glass, metals, porcelain and ceramic tiles and more, deck design can perfectly complement the home’s interior–or not, if you so choose.

Railings are a prime example of where mix-and-match materials can really make a difference. With the rise in popularity of multi-level decks, they’re becoming more necessary for safety, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be stylish! Glass railings allow for better views of the landscape without sacrificing safety, while cable railing can add a funky, industrial aesthetic.

Move over, rusty patio furniture! Built-in furniture, such as benches, fire pits and storage bins, is taking over and the result is a deck that’s completely unique and tailored to the needs of the homeowner. Need somewhere to hide all those pool toys? Trap doors in the deck floor can lead to storage “holes” to reduce clutter. Hoping for space-saving seating? Built-in dining benches are extremely versatile. Want to add some extra flair? Fire pits can double as conversation pits to really keep the fun going.

Rekindle your love of fresh air and sunshine by turning your deck into a fun and comfortable space the whole family can enjoy. No longer just a space to keep the grill, the deck is now a major focal point and gathering space that can be used year-round thanks to greater surface area, high-end finishes and high-tech accessories and materials. An upgraded deck is the most versatile addition to any home, perfect for entertaining friends, relaxing with a book or a weeknight family dinner. HLM

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