Decks have been a central feature of homes for hundreds of years. From the Victorian wrap-around to the antebellum veranda and even the pioneering shiplap stoop, people have always loved spending time outdoors near the comfort of indoors.

Fast forward a century, and people still enjoy deck life. They turn their decks into outdoor living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens, play games with family and friends, and enjoy simply being outside.

But just like the decks of the past, outdoor living trends are impacting how we design our spaces. Contemporary, minimalist sensibilities are all the rage and play a massive role in how decks are built. So what’s in and what’s out? Here are six innovative features for modern deck designs. 

Build a Floating Deck

Deck builders have begun installing a new type of deck that’s becoming quite popular—floating decks. As the name implies, this style floats on the yard. There’s no ledge or step-down, just a structurally sound deck flush with the lawn.

Floating decks are a wonderful choice for young families eager to ensure their little ones don’t fall off the deck. But there are some drawbacks, too. Since the deck surface is basically on the ground, the surface is easily dirtied with grass clippings and other outside debris. And in most cases, deck builders have to add stairs going down from the home to the deck’s surface; this could be a tripping hazard.

Overall, floating decks work well for active families looking for a simple, clean deck design. Floating deck owners will need to be careful when stepping out of their homes and take care to clean the surface regularly.

Use Simple, Clean Design

Minimalist design is all about streamlined edges, little clutter, and clean lines. There is no room for scrolled ironwork or your grandma’s wicker chairs. Think boxy, oversized furniture geometrically placed in a vast open space.

This can be a challenging transition if your home was built with a traditional or even transitional deck. The good news is, you probably don’t have to change much because chances are, you don’t have a deck to begin with! Studies show that only one in five new homes are built with decks.

Elements like wood cladding, timber paneling, and built-in planter boxes are great additions to modern deck designs. If you don’t want to build in planters, large concrete or stone planters in simple geometric shapes, work well, too.

Incorporate Unique Railings

One of the most distinguishing features of modern deck design is the railings. This design element really sets modern deck design apart from other building styles.

Cable and glass are two of the most popular modern deck railings, but some homeowners opt for parallel black iron railings, too. All three options give you that contemporary look while keeping you and your guests safe.

Glass is by far the best choice if your view is a concern, but it may be challenging to keep clean, depending on your lifestyle. Cables and iron should be pretty maintenance-free but offer a completely different interpretation of the modern style.

Decorate With Modern Furniture

Modern deck design can be plain. Furnishings and decor are how you can add personality and punch to a contemporary deck design.

Again, most modern outdoor furniture is big and boxy. It’s usually meant to feel like indoor furniture that fits outside. A recent study showed that 69% of homeowners planned to add comfortable outdoor furniture to their deck space in 2022. In fact, furnishing the outdoors was the most popular outdoor living trend that year.

But there’s more to furnishing your modern deck than adding comfortable seating. Large stone coffee tables and reclaimed wood pieces provide a great focal point to contrast against the deck’s clean lines. You can also jazz things up with colorful yet modern throw pillows and blankets.

Plant a Living Wall

Decks are all about outdoor living, and what better way to enjoy living outdoors than creating a plant wall. Living walls are systems of pots on an otherwise plain wall, usually planted with sedums and other hardy evergreen plants.

Not only do these design elements break up the stark modern look, but they’re good for you, too. Plants breathe more oxygen into the area, increasing your well-being and making the space look gorgeous, too.

In fact, researchers have found that spending time with plants makes people feel more relaxed. One study found that less than 20 minutes with plants daily was enough to make people feel more peaceful.

Install Ambient Lighting

Outdoor lighting has come a long way in the last several years. With the broad adoption of LED technology and smart lighting capabilities, the possibilities to illuminate your modern deck are seemingly endless.

Start with ambient strip lighting. This works well on railings, around deck stairs, and anywhere else with a ledge where light can be discreetly tucked in. Not only does this make your space safe at night, but it enhances the look in a way no other design elements can.

If you have a covered space, you should also think about adding sconces, chandeliers, and recessed lighting. Look for minimalist light fixtures with maximal impact. Metal and glass are excellent materials to consider, but there are so many possibilities with lighting it’s hard to pinpoint a single material or style.

A modern deck will enhance your home and showcase your style, but only if executed properly. Use these six tips to inform your deck design to create the modern deck you’ve always wanted.

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