30 Ideas to Dress Up Your Deck

back porch with seating area tree view
An inexpensive used French door inspired a new deck off the kitchen. The family used to keep their grill on the main deck, but this one is much closer for carrying food outside (and adds a shady, tucked-away sitting spot). “With a budget, you have to cut corners in different places,” Jodi says. “In this case, we got a solution to a problem we didn’t know we had.” . Photo: Austin Day

Furnish your deck or patio with accessories and designs that add comfort and style to outdoor living. Here are 30 suggestions to get you started.

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Pile on the Pillows

back patio seating plantings fire container
Emily Berger

A collection of bright and cushy pillows will give your deck indoor-worthy style. Whether you add pillows to outdoor chairs or provide them for guests who prefer to lounge along the edge of the deck, they'll help you reiterate your deck's decorating scheme. Choose outdoor fabrics in cheery complementary colors; spray with a washable protectant to help them shrug off moisture and stains.

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Make it Comfy

Make it comfy

Outdoor furniture should look-and feel-comfortable! Here, neutral waterproof fabric on pretty wicker furniture harmonizes with the outdoors and allows accent pillows to pop.

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Install Mood Lighting

back porch with seating area tree view
An inexpensive used French door inspired a new deck off the kitchen. The family used to keep their grill on the main deck, but this one is much closer for carrying food outside (and adds a shady, tucked-away sitting spot). “With a budget, you have to cut corners in different places,” Jodi says. “In this case, we got a solution to a problem we didn’t know we had.”. Austin Day

Decks aren't just for daytime. Add strategically placed lights around your deck to set the mood with illumination as the sun sets.

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Plant a Container Garden

carnival hues planter
Photographer: Laurie Black; Designer: Karen Chapman/Le Jardinet

Enhance any outdoor setting with a container garden that combines interesting colors and textures. Tropical container gardens are an easy way to bring island spirit to your outdoor setting. To make the garden portable, put your pot on a rolling stand.

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Unify the Look

family lakeside fire pit patio chairs
A firepit sits between the Dimkes’ main house and the recently remodeled “kids’ cabin.” Days start and end here, the time between filled with swimming, skiing or cruising around Upper Gull Lake for live music and beach volleyball. Kim Cornelison

Simple and streamlined is the approach for this patio. Brown Adirondack chairs cozy up around a firepit, echoing the stone, shingle and copper elements of this lakeside retreat's charming exterior.

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Transition Smartly

Step it up

Three wide steps transition from the yard to a wide deck featuring an area for conversation and one for dining. Note how accessories pull the house color onto the deck.

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Use Space Under Decks

Use space under decks

Making use of the area under a deck doubles your space for relaxation. In this setup, a dining table and seating are close to the indoor kitchen to make entertaining a breeze. Below, additional entertaining space, plus a hammock and potting bench, provide ample space to kick back and relax.

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Add a Water Feature

Container water garden

Bring the tranquil sounds of water to your deck with a water feature, such as a fountain powered by a recirculating pump. You can also create a soothing water garden in a pot or nearby raised bed, or on a tabletop.

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Add Elevation

Deck to impress

A slightly elevated deck adds dimension to a yard that would otherwise be completely flat. It gives the appearance of having two different rooms in your yard and adds flexibility for entertaining.

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Create Privacy

Create privacy

A row of evergreens forms a privacy wall for this deck. A couple of green accessories pop in the neutral scene.

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Focus on Furniture

Focus on furniture

Select one special piece of furniture and place it where it achieves focal point status. Even one high-impact piece will make the rest of your deck furnishings feel less utilitarian. This set blends sleek, sophisticated lines with relaxation and stands up to heavy use and weather.

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Enlist Lattice

Lattice up

Add a wooden square lattice wall to one side of your deck to create the illusion of a wall. Plants like clematis and climbing roses will grow up a lattice, and after a few years, they'll form a fragrant wall of blooms.

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Unify with Color

Unify with color

Focusing on one or two colors adds a unifying feel to your decor. Punchy blue and green furnishings brighten the deck while not distracting from the view.

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Edge with Green

Edge with green

Form a living privacy screen with a trio of head-high planters. Start with classy pots (ours are lightweight resin) and add a lush arborvitae to each. Stand the matching plantings side by side along an edge of your deck to gain privacy and put lush greenery within reach.

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Hang Wall Art

Hang wall art

Think of your outside walls just like you would think of walls in your house. Filling blank spots with colorful or conversation-starting art pieces helps your deck feel more personal. This bright and beautiful kite, for instance, adds a colorful note to this stone wall. Hung within easy reach, it's also available for play whenever a breeze stirs. Architectural salvage pieces also make intriguing outdoor art that's weather-hardy.

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Make a Fire Bowl

Make a fire bowl

Give your deck the flickering warmth of a personal fire bowl for cozy ambience as twilight approaches. To make the bowl, place a 13-ounce can of clean-burning gel-alcohol fuel in a 10-inch-diameter terra-cotta container. Surround the can's bottom and sides with tumbled recycled glass.

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Add Texture

Add texture

Wood and stone add texture and character to this outdoor dining space. A timber-frame loggia featuring columns banded with hammered wrought-iron shades metal farm-style chairs and a teak table. A stone fireplace and brick pavers complete the welcoming dining area.

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Personalize Pots

DIY ways to age garden pots

Personalize terra-cotta pots by dry-brushing them with layers of acrylic paints. Using a variety of colors in similar hues will give each pot depth and character. Fill each container with potting mix, tuck in seasonal bedding plants and water.

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Add Punch

Add punch

Pillows, paint and paper lanterns coordinate with the bright colors of the fabric streamers creating privacy for this tiny deck.

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Add a Rug

Add a rug

The zebra-look rug adds spark to an otherwise tradtional look. The rug also visually separates the eating area from conversation area.

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Create Vertical Interest

Get on my level

A two-level deck maximizes the space in your backyard. The table and chairs on the top level are shaded by a weatherproof fabric shade sail while the chairs on the patio below are sheltered by the deck.

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Cover with Canvas

Cover with canvas

Canvas creates airy shade for a concrete pad in the corner of a narrow side yard that might otherwise go unused.

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Dramatize the Scene

Dramatize the scene

A just-big-enough circle of bricks stuns with its position under a dramatic arch of roses.

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Keep it Simple

Keep it simple

A simple brick patio and a small raised area call for other simple pleasures: a basic table, retro-style chairs and a hammock.

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Line Steps

Line steps

Dress up the stairs leading to your deck by lining the edges with potted plants. Vary the size and type of plant to add visual interest. Choose plants that will remain relatively small so they don't overtake your deck.

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Revitalize with Color

Revitalize with color

A bright pop of color is the fastest way to enliven your deck. Add a firepit in the middle for cool summer nights and you won't be able to leave the deck all season.

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Go White (Really!)

Go white (really!)

Are you avoiding whites because you're concerned about dirt? If you use waterproof and stain-resistant fabrics, white can look great on your deck. White brings out the honey hues of lighter woods such as maple.

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Connect Walkways

Connect walkways

Not all yards are suited for a large, flat deck. If your yard is on an incline, consider a wooden walkway connecting a series of smaller decks.

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Try a Pergola

Try a pergola

Dress up your deck by adding color-coordinated window baskets and a pergola to deflect the sun.

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Continue Colors

Continue colors

Color is one of the quickest, most impactful ways to unify an outdoor setting. Chairs around the table and the fire pit all wear the same color cushions to connect spaces.

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