Ontario Retreat: Expanding Outdoor Living Space with New Deck

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Many reasons exist for adding a new deck to your home: creating a place for entertaining guests, having a spot to get out in the sun, or increasing the value of your home. But for now, we’ll focus on just one primary reason: adding extra functional living space. Extra outdoor living space can itself mean several things: more space for parties, more usable outside space for personal use, better access to the beauty of nature, or greater variety in the types of space available. All of these goals—and many more—help define what “function” means to you.

Function and Design

Deck design should follow function, and the variety of possible deck designs and shapes makes selecting what you want both powerful and rewarding. Also, whether your project is about designing for a small space or for a big space, function remains the goal.

  • Multi-level deck: Different levels can be used for different purposes. For example, you may want to have a dining area on one level and a lounging area on another.
  • L-shaped deck: L-shaped decks can also easily create separate “zones” for dining and lounging.
  • Wrap-around deck: This design can create a large outdoor living space, in the tradition of old country porches. This type of deck is typically attached to the home and wraps around one or more sides of the house.
  • Freestanding deck: Freestanding decks can be positioned anywhere on your property and are ideal for those who want maximum flexibility in terms of placement and design, but might lack integrated functionality.
  • Square or rectangular deck: These shapes are simple and straightforward and are ideal for their simple functionality and economy.
  • Octagonal deck: Octagonal deck can be elegant and traditional, but might lack functionality in the shape of their corners.


Aesthetic Integration with Existing Built Structure: Outdoor Living Space

Aesthetic integration—having deck plans tailored to match the existing architecture and decor—are about both looks AND function. The idea is to match functional zones indoor to outdoor, whether the planned deck is attached to the house or not.

Integrated Looks

The design of your outdoor living area should complement the existing architecture and style of your home. Integrated looks are easy to achieve, but nevertheless don’t happen automatically. Consciously choose similar materials, colours, and design elements, such as railings, lighting, and furniture to help a deck design blend seamlessly, harmoniously, and cohesively with the existing space.

Integrated Function

When designing your new deck, it’s also essential to consider how it will flow with the rest of your home. For example, aim to have a seamless transition from your indoor living space to your outdoor living space. Indoor kitchens will naturally open onto outdoor cooking areas, for example; and indoor bedrooms naturally open onto outdoor lounging areas.

Placement and Function

The location of your deck can greatly impact its use and functionality. Consider factors such as privacy, shade, and wind when deciding on the placement of your deck. For example, if you want a shaded area for relaxation, you may want to place your deck near trees or other natural shade sources. If you are looking for a more private space, you may want to place your deck away from busy streets and sidewalks.

Other Practical Considerations for Outdoor Living Space

This discussion of adding extra functional space needs to be paired with many additional practical construction factors including the size of your yard; your budget; maintenance requirements; permits, zoning, and planning regulations; contractor selection, and the seasonal timing of the work. These considerations, while important, are not directly related to the functionality of your new outdoor living space, and will be discussed elsewhere.

A deck can provide a beautiful and functional area for entertaining guests, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors. Making your new deck construction, deck renovation, or deck remodeling work for your needs is why function must always be in mind.

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