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Top 9 Ways to Design Your Deck for Hosting

February 8th, 2024 | 6 min read

By Christine Gauthier

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Are you longing to transform your outdoor space into a hub for unforgettable gatherings yet unsure where to begin? Whether you're a seasoned host or just starting your journey into outdoor entertainment, the challenges of designing a deck that caters to both aesthetics and functionality can be frustrating.

With over 15+ years of deck-building experience, we have transformed client visions into tangible, inviting decks that seamlessly blend aesthetic appeal with practical functionality. We understand the nuances of creating spaces that resonate with your lifestyle.

In this article, you’ll learn more about the top ways to design your deck for hosting friends and family:

  1. Open Layout Design
  2. Multi-Zone Planning
  3. Weather-Resistant Materials
  4. Seamless Indoor-Outdoor Transition
  5. Built-In Entertainment Features
  6. Creative Outdoor Lighting Solutions
  7. Maximized Seating Options
  8. Technology Integration
  9. Strategic Greenery Placement

1. Open Layout Design

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One key element in designing a deck for hosting is embracing an open layout. Ensure your deck can accommodate large parties by allowing it to flow seamlessly into a patio or open grass space. This approach not only prevents guests from feeling confined but also provides essential overflow space, especially if you're not constructing a colossal deck.

Here are a few ways to use an open layout design to accommodate your guests:

  • Separate Fun Areas: Make clear spots for activities in the open space. Reserve places for eating, chatting, and chilling. This way, guests can choose where they want to be, and it avoids everyone crowding in one spot.
  • Strategic Furniture Placement: Place furniture cleverly to make the best use of space. Set up seating and dining areas to allow easy movement and prevent traffic jams. Create cozy corners and spaces for people to mingle, spreading out the crowd.
  • Connect to Other Areas: Expand the open deck into nearby spaces like patios or yards. Keep a smooth flow so people can quickly move between inside and outside. This not only gives more room but also spreads out guests during big get-togethers.
  • Easy Seating Options: Use an open design to set up flexible seating. Bring in movable furniture that can be changed around for big groups. Think about built-in benches, sofas, or a mix of chairs and tables that can be adjusted for different numbers of people.
  • Practical Design Ideas: Choose elements that serve more than one event purpose. For instance, built-in benches can be both seating and storage. A central fire pit can be a focus point and provide warmth. These features make the open layout work well for large gatherings.

2. Multi-Zone Planning

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Consider incorporating multi-zone planning into your deck design, breaking up the space into different tiers or zones. This can involve creating varying deck levels, steps down onto a patio, or even distinct seating areas. By strategically planning the layout, you can provide options for different activities, creating a dynamic and versatile hosting environment.

Here are a few examples of activities you can separate using a multi-zone deck design:

  • Dining Area: Set up a special place with a table and chairs for meals. Add nice lights for a cozy dinner vibe.
  • Entertainment Space: Create a space just for entertainment, like a fire pit, outdoor movie spot, or an area for games
  • Socializing Hub: Arrange a central area with lots of seats, maybe around a table or a bar, where everyone can chat and hang out.
  • Kids' Play Zone: If kids are around, make a part of the deck with fun stuff like a playhouse, sandbox, or a place to draw with chalk.
  • Relaxation Station: Make a comfy spot with soft seats and maybe a swinging chair for people who want to relax and chat quietly.

3. Weather-Resistant Materials

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To ensure durability and low-maintenance hosting, choose weather-resistant materials. We recommend Trex for composite decking, a high-quality material that resists fading, staining, and requires minimal upkeep.

Trex's composite decking not only withstands the elements but also eliminates the need for regular staining that wood decks demand.

Here are a few ways to research weather-resistant decking materials:

  • Online Research: Surf the web for materials that handle different weather conditions.
  • Ask Professional Michigan Deck Builders: Get advice from Michigan deck experts. They can help you find materials that withstand the region’s weather patterns.
  • Maintenance Considerations: Go for materials that don't need a lot of work. Materials like PVC or plastic-based composites are easy to clean and don't need staining like wood.

4. Seamless Indoor-Outdoor Transition

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Creating a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces is essential for hosting in Michigan's climate. While folding sliding glass doors might not be feasible, multi-sliding doors can be a suitable alternative. These doors open directly onto the deck, fostering a harmonious connection between your interior and the outdoor hosting area.

Here are a few strategies to consider while designing your indoor-outdoor transition:

  • Expand with a Covered Patio: Extend your indoor space with a covered patio. This ensures a sheltered area for seamless transitions, even in tricky Michigan weather.
  • Optimize Openings: Aim for large openings. The bigger the doors, the more open your transition will feel. This is especially important in areas with less favorable weather.
  • Strategic Door Placement: Plan where your doors will go. Have them open directly onto the deck to create a smooth transition between your indoor and outdoor spaces.

5. Built-In Entertainment Features

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PC: TimberTech

Elevate your hosting experience with built-in entertainment features. From fireplaces and pizza ovens to movable fire tables and fire pits, these additions create a warm and inviting atmosphere. For covered decks, consider lamp heaters or freestanding heaters attached to ceilings to extend your hosting season into cooler weather.

Here are a few more built-in entertainment features to elevate your deck for hosting:

  • Built-in Ice Cooler: Keep drinks cool with a built-in ice cooler. Handy for hot days and reduces the need for extra coolers.
  • Outdoor Bar Counter: Create a stylish bar counter for your deck. It's a dedicated space for serving drinks and socializing.
  • Beverage Station with Sink: Install a built-in station for drinks with a sink. It makes it easy to prepare and serve beverages during gatherings.
  • Outdoor Kitchen: Design a complete outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, countertops, and storage. Great for cooking and hosting outdoor meals.

6. Creative Outdoor Lighting Solutions

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Lighting plays a pivotal role in setting the mood for your deck-hosting events. Explore creative lighting solutions, such as built-in options, string lights, stair riser lights, and bistro lights. LED lighting can be strategically placed, enhancing specific features like built-in benches or creating a soft ambient glow throughout the deck.

Looking for more lighting inspiration? Check out our list below:

  • Hanging Lanterns: Install hanging lanterns from overhead structures or pergolas for a warm and ambient glow.
  • Solar Path Lights: Illuminate walkways or edges of the deck with solar-powered path lights for a subtle and eco-friendly lighting solution.
  • Under-Step Lighting: Install LED strips or fixtures under the steps of your deck for a visually appealing and safe way to navigate in the dark.
  • Candle Sconces: Mount candle sconces on the walls of your deck for a charming and customizable lighting option. They provide a cozy atmosphere.
  • Deck Post Cap Lights: Add lights to the tops of deck posts for both safety and a decorative touch. They come in various styles to match your aesthetic.

7. Maximized Seating Options

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PC: TimberTech

Understand how you intend to use your deck to maximize seating options. Whether it's sunbathing, dining, or reading, tailor your outdoor furniture choices to match your hosting needs. Versatile seating arrangements ensure comfort for various activities and contribute to the overall functionality of your deck.

Here are a few maximized seating options you can infuse into your outdoor living space:

  • Sectional Sofas: Arrange modular sofas for a cozy and flexible setup.
  • Adirondack Chairs: Classic and comfy chairs that you can easily move around.
  • Built-In Benches: Use benches built into your deck's edges for extra seating and storage.
  • Swing Seats or Hammocks: Add fun with hanging seats for a unique seating experience.
  • High-Quality Folding Chairs: Keep foldable chairs for when you have more guests. Easy to store.

8. Technology Integration

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PC: One Kindesign

While most technology is brought in rather than built-in, consider integrating features like Bluetooth speakers for music or solar lighting on stairs for added convenience. Creating a space for a screen and projector can turn your deck into an outdoor cinema, enhancing your hosting capabilities.

Here are a few more ways you can integrate technology into your deck:

  • Wi-Fi Extenders: Boost your outdoor Wi-Fi signal for seamless connectivity.
  • Phone Charging Stations: Integrate charging stations to keep devices powered.
  • Heated Seating: Explore heated furniture options for comfort in cooler weather.
  • Smart Blinds or Shades: Incorporate technology for adjustable shade and privacy.

9. Strategic Greenery Placement

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PC: The Spruce

Tailor your greenery to meet the privacy and aesthetic needs of your deck space. For decks close to neighbors, taller privacy hedges may be proposed, while decks overlooking natural landscapes can benefit from strategically placed tall grasses and wildflowers. The right greenery enhances the natural appeal of your deck and provides additional privacy where needed.

Next Steps to Building Your New Deck

As you embark on the journey of deck design for hosting, it's essential to recall the initial challenge – creating a space that effortlessly merges style with functionality, facilitating seamless gatherings under the open sky.

Through this guide, we've illuminated pathways to overcome those challenges.

At Custom Built, with 15+ years of deck-building experience, we understand the significance of crafting outdoor spaces that truly reflect your lifestyle.

Ready to turn these insights into reality? Contact us to connect with our skilled professionals who can turn your deck dreams into a captivating outdoor reality. Elevate your hosting experience with a deck that's not just functional but also a true extension of your style and personality. Explore the possibilities today.

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Now that you know more about the top ways to design your deck for hosting, let’s explore how Custom Built will approach your project, how much your new structure will cost, and how long it’ll take to build:

Christine Gauthier