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"Decking Out" Your Outdoor Areas

The key to designing a successful outdoor living space is to create an area that reflects the architectural character of the home as well as the personality of the homeowners who inhabit the space. With regard to porch, patio and deck design, first contemplate the activities that you want your family to pursue within the space. Then, ponder the ways in which you can divide the space into distinct areas for each activity. Paint represents a powerful component that assists the homeowner with their ultimate goal of creating an outdoor living space that not only enhances the home exterior, but also the ways in which that unique family lives within their home's outdoor structure.

Decks and porches can be fashioned to highlight the dramatic exterior setting that belongs to the home itself. Decks that overlook breathtaking mountain views or the rhythmic flow of a body of water need not be overly pretentious, as the major focal point rests within the panoramic view. A classic porch design that reflects the natural environment maximizes the powerful setting. Usually the view is all that is necessary to lend prominence to the impressive outdoors. A deck that is stained in a natural color, or a weathered and unpretentious hue often represents the only required ingredient for completion of the dynamic outdoor ambience.

Decks may be constructed to add appeal to plain homes that simply need a 'pick me up'. Built-in benches, tables and planters add a note of permanence and visually tie the deck to the existing landscape. Families that enjoy regular quiet time within their outdoor living area (perhaps reading or sunbathing) long for a designated relaxation zone as part of the design. Entertainment areas can also be sectioned off to include a grilling station as well as an outdoor kitchen area for family and guests to enjoy.

Implementing patterns and colors that are prominent in other areas of the exterior living space visually connect the distinctively separate areas in an attractive manner. Introducing a festively painted pergola or portico offers a touch of shade protection while systematically creating the sense that you are part of an interior space. Flowers and greenery that reside inside of handsomely painted planters are wonderful decorative accents that introduce texture, fragrance and color to a front courtyard space. Painted columns and posts may be utilized to mark transitions between various outdoor vignettes.

There are several ways to relate the home's architectural style to the outdoor living space. One effective way to introduce the home's architectural style to the exterior space is via the use of design repeats. Repeating a design element (such as a shutter cut-out) that is apparent on the deck railing of the home's exterior offers a practical and attractive way to marry the exterior of the home to the deck. Consider emphasizing the 'repeat' further by painting the deck railing in the identical shade as the design element appears on the home. Victorian styled homes often sport ornamental gazebos and deck railings that can be painted in period colors, visually connecting the home's design to the deck area.

A painted trellis can be incorporated as part of the colonial home deck design, to accentuate climbing vines or flowers. Railing post caps that are indicative of colonial style architecture can be painted in colors that contrast with the railing, and implemented as part of the deck structure. Unique geometric motifs that highlight linear patterns and modern surfaces can be applied to flooring that has been constructed from synthetic-material decking, wood, concrete and other materials via paint, in order to produce stunning exterior floor coverings on the porch, patio, courtyard or deck of a contemporary style home.

With today's continued emphasis on indoor/outdoor living, it is not surprising that the majority of today's outdoor living spaces reflect the character of both their interior residence and exterior property. The use of paint and color aid in visually extending and attractively unifying outdoor living areas with each home's unique architectural flavor.

Gail McCauley for the 
Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute

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