Transform Your Deck into an Outdoor Living Area

Written by Adam Coholan, an active blogger out of New York who writes about remodeling and exterior design based on his experience working with Fire Island rental properties for Elliman Real Estate. You can follow him on Twitter @Coho22.

Low Voltage Deck lighting
Low Voltage Deck lighting

Most homeowners wish for more space in their home, but often the solution is right outside. Transforming your deck into an outdoor living area not only allows for more space, but brings you closer to nature and all the activities that outdoor life offers. Here are three tips to get your outdoor living experience started.

1. Light Up the Night

Low Voltage Deck lighting
Low Voltage Deck lighting

Darkness needn’t send the family indoors, not when there are so many options for deck lighting. Adding spot lights, wall lighting, and post lights can illuminate your deck and provide added security, too. Lighting options also include solar-powered LED models than can easily be attached to posts or walls. Adding some simple lighting is one of the easiest and cost efficient ways to dramatically increase the amount of time spent on your deck enjoying the fresh air.

2. Shelter and Shade
Sometimes a bright sun or a stiff breeze is the only thing keeping homeowners from expanding their living space onto the outdoor deck. Adding awning or a pergola can provide an attractive and affordable defense against hot summer sun. Awnings can reduce the outdoor temperature by as much as 20 percent, and pergolas offer another shade solution when covered with fast-growing vines or linens.

A lattice covered with climbing plants makes an attractive windbreak. Plants like cypress, boxwood, privet or hemlock that can be pruned into hedges for another green windbreak solution. A more solid alternative is adding a wall constructed from wood or masonry. This will not only offer wind protection, but can create wall space for amenities like an outdoor grill or a dry bar for entertaining.

3. From a Deck to a Room
Once a deck is lit and covered, the possibilities are endless. When fitted with cabinets, shelving and counters, a deck can become the perfect place to indulge in a favorite interest or hobby, and allow opportunities for features like outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and entertainment centers that can include flat-screen TVs and surround sound systems. Gardeners will enjoy a deck with a sheltered spot for nurturing delicate plants. Add counters for a wet bar and an under-cabinet refrigerator or wine cooler, include a few pieces of comfortable indoor/outdoor furniture, and your deck may soon become the favorite spot in your home!