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Top 5 Unique Deck Designs

June 28th, 2023 | 5 min read

By Jacob Livingston

top 5 unique deck designs stair lighting rails Custom Built Lansing Michigan

Ready to build or remodel your deck but not sure where to start design-wise? Going into a deck build without fully thinking through your design elements could result in a space that:

  • You are disappointed with
  • You are uncomfortable using
  • Does not serve your usage needs

For the last 15+ years, we have built more than 1000 decks for Lansing area residents & businesses - each with unique designs and configurations.

Fortunately, we have a few ideas that can help you make a more informed design decision.

In this article, you will learn more about the top 5 creative deck designs, their recommended functions, and which could be right for you:

Basic vs. Unique Deck Design Shapes

rectangular deck design top unique designs custom built lansing

Before we explore our top recommendations, let’s review the most traditional deck design shapes that many homeowners choose:

  • Square
  • Rectangle

While this might sound obvious, it’s important to realize that simple, straightforward decks can still be a great fit for many homeowners. Additionally, traditional shapes are built like this simply because they are the most straightforward designs for builders. More complex designs require varying board lengths, more material-cut waste, and increased labor costs.

Due to these factors and more, some homes are better suited for a basic design than unique blueprints. Here are a few considerations that might signal that your home calls for a traditional deck shape:

  • Architectural Style: Some unique deck designs can clash with your home’s architecture and external aesthetic, making it less visually appealing.
  • Neighborhood Architectural Harmony: An extension of the first factor, some neighborhoods were built to mirror each other architecturally. Building a unique deck design might disrupt that harmony and overall neighborhood aesthetic.
  • Property Resale Value: Unique deck designs are infused with personal preferences in mind. The only problem? Not everyone shares the same taste. This is why traditional deck designs are considered safer choices that might appeal to a broader buyer audience should you choose to sell your home.

Let’s explore some visually-appealing deck designs - all ready to break the mold and elevate your outdoor living space:

1. Clipped Corners Bring a Rounded Aesthetic to Your Deck

top 5 unique deck designs clipped corners bringing round aesthetic

Clipped corners take your typical 90-degree intersection and cut across at a 45-degree angle, creating a clipped, or flattened, corner.


  • Opens up the possibility of hexagonal or octagonal designs.
  • Infuses deck with rounded design without the extra cost of rounded boards.

Designing clip corners for your deck build is the perfect way of rounding your outdoor space without worrying about paying for extra labor. Typically for rounded boards, builders have to form each deck board off-site before using them on-site. Because of this, opting for clipped corners eliminates extra costs for materials and labor.

Additionally, clipped corners are recommended if your house’s architecture features similar, sleek corners or frames - as the deck design complements Tudor or Craftsman-style homes.

2. Hexagonal or Octagonal for Natural Dining Areas

top 5 unique deck designs hexagonal octagonal dining area with table custom built

Hexagonal or octagonal designs take the concept of clipped corners and apply it to introduce multi-sided areas of your deck. 


  • Adds a visually unique accent to your space.
  • Optimal for additional seating and dining area.

This design is an amazing way to open up more deck space, capable of being installed as an extension to your existing deck and eliminating the need for rounded corners. From family dinners to game nights, hexagonal and octagonal deck designs naturally accommodate round tables or other seating.

Since multi-sided designs require more support posts and framing to ensure structural integrity, this means more materials and time is needed to complete the build.

Don’t let that discourage you from introducing your own round table to your deck, though. Hexagonal and octagonal designs are worth the additional time and effort once installed due to the communal spaces they provide.

We recommend modern or contemporary architectural styles for hexagonal and octagonal shapes. These deck designs' crisp lines and geometric shapes complement the slick, minimalist style frequently found in contemporary architecture.

3. Multi-Tiered Decks with Designated Themes

multi tiered decks with designated themes top 5 unique deck designs custom built

A multi-tiered deck design lets you install multiple levels to your deck attached by stairs.


  • More levels mean more space for your furniture.
  • Allows you to authentically separate areas into designated themes.

Let’s say you want your grill or kitchen area separate from your seating area. Multi-tiered decks let you space out every aspect of your design goals and keep that BBQ smoke from drifting into your guests’ faces.

This design also allows you to naturally integrate stairs into your blueprints, encouraging more foot-traffic flow from your backdoor to your backyard. Why is this important? 

Directed foot-traffic flow frees up more access to other entertainment areas in your backyard, letting guests experience every aspect of your outdoor living space.

Along with a new deck, you can add your personal touch on the stairs, including amenities such as under-stair and railing lights - an important safety feature as you enjoy your deck late into the night. 

4. Grill Pockets for Dedicated BBQ Access

grill pocket with dedicated BBQ access top 5 unique deck designs custom built

Grill pockets are, as the name suggests, special bump-out areas made specifically for your barbecue grill.


  • Dedicated area for your grill.
  • Doesn’t interrupt the flow of foot traffic.
  • Prevents guests and family members from bumping into your grill.

If you’re planning on hosting a ton of weekend BBQs, this design is just for you. A design that’s become more and more popular in recent years, grill pockets bump out of your deck’s foundation with a small rectangular addition or clipped corners.

Grill pockets ensure that your guests have a clear path to walk through without worrying about bumping into your grill - preventing burns and the dislodgement of food on your cooking surface. This also allows you the opportunity to maintain a central common area away from your grilling area.

Lastly, grill pockets are highly customizable and buildable using any of the deck designs on this list, letting you add a personal touch to your culinary experience.

5. Built-In Seating and Features for Entertaining

built in seating and fire pit for entertaining custom built

Built-in seating and features such as fire pits can be permanently installed in your deck using a variety of configurations.


  • Creates dedicated communal areas for entertaining friends and family
  • Can be easily integrated into your deck’s design while maintaining usable square footage

Whether or not you’ve installed a grill pocket or any of the other unique deck designs on our list, chances are you’ll need to install seating for all those friends and family. You could buy standalone furniture; however, built-in seating and features will naturally transform your deck into a communal focal point.

From circular fire-pit seating to picnic table benches, built-in seating, like multi-tiered designs, lets you assign specific activities to different deck areas.

For instance, guests can enjoy a nice post-dinner board game at your permanent round table while you’re prepping a s’mores platter at the fire pit.

Capable of accommodating a wide range of configurations, built-in seating is the perfect design option for homeowners seeking to customize their deck with entertainment in mind. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about re-positioning or straightening your furniture ever again, as it will be fixed in place - eliminating extra prep work before your company arrives.

Next steps to building your dream deck design

When building or remodeling your deck, finding a design that’ll make your outdoor space stand out can be stressful if you don’t know which creative blueprint works best for you and your home.

Over the past 15 years, we have completed hundreds of deck builds, adapting to and creating our clients’ design vision.

Knowing the top 5 creative deck design shapes, you can confidently approach your build and design an outdoor living space that’ll leave you feeling proud and complete.

custom built design and remodeling deck builders michigan

To learn more about how to design your deck remodel, addition, or build and how much it might cost, read the following articles:

Jacob Livingston

Jacob brings 20+ years of residential construction experience to the Custom Built team. He has spent years in the field learning the hands-on side of building from foundation prep to roofing shingles. With a need-to-know mindset and a desire to understand how things work, Jacob has studied building science, systems integration, home inspection, and radon measurement and mitigation.