The latest Houzz survey says it all – decks top homeowners’ most-updated list and are a more important feature of the home than ever.
Australians just can’t get enough when it comes to decks, so much so that they are now being treated not just as an add-on to the house, but an integral part of it. The results from the Houzz Australia Landscaping & Garden Trends Study reveal that 82 per cent of homeowners undertaking a landscaping project are making changes to outdoor structures, and doing up the deck or adding a new one is by far the most popular project on the cards.
Patios and terraces, gazebos and pergolas are also sought after, but decks win out as the most-updated structural element. These decks have been designed to make outdoor living irresistible, and are sure to have you lifting your own outdoor-living aspirations a notch or two.
Decks are no longer merely tacked on to the back of a house – they are an integral part of the home and people are finding it worth their while to invest time and money in refining them with lifestyle-enhancing features. In this renovation in Sydney, the roofline has been extended from the new open-plan living area to incorporate a covered deck. Hardwood-framed sliding doors allow a seamless flow between inside and out.
In a move that highlights just how much we relish the lifestyle advantages that come with adding a deck, the design and materials of the home’s new kitchen continues outside, complete with matching rangehood over the barbecue.
If you want the same kitchen look inside and out, your benchtop material will need to be hardy enough to withstand the elements outdoors – reconstituted stone, concrete or stainless steel all fit the bill.
About 20 per cent of Houzzers taking on an outdoor project have incorporated built-in cabinetry or storage in their designs; 14 per cent included a plumbed-in sink; 14 per cent included a pizza oven and 11 per cent added a fridge. As for wine fridges, just 5 per cent of the survey respondents splashed out on one for their new outdoor area.
Large-format bluestone tiles and dark-stained cedar doors tie this outdoor kitchen in with the deck and adjacent house. Don’t expect an outdoor kitchen like this to come cheap, though – this one cost its owners $35,000, including the pizza oven. But what an amazing addition to the deck!
Out in all weather
The Houzz survey tells us more than half of homeowners upgrading their outdoor spaces spend up to five hours a week there, so it makes sense to make these areas as weatherproof as possible. Motorised louvres give these homeowners complete control over the rain and sun.
An overhead heater or two will have you lingering outside longer as temperatures drop in the evening …
… as will a soak in the spa.
In the warmer months, drop-down blinds keep the hot sun or overzealous breezes at bay – Australian homeowners do whatever they can to maximise the time they can spend outdoors.
At one with nature
If your backyard is blessed with an abundance of trees or a leafy outlook, a deck can be just the thing to take you out into the treetops … or at least give you that feeling.
Decks can be designed just about any which way you want, and while 28 per cent of Houzzers are keen to reduce their lawn size and 46 per cent are incorporating an outdoor structure such as a deck in its place, there’s no need to get rid of any trees standing in your way just yet. The owners of this Melbourne home convinced their landscape designer to work the yellow stringy bark deck around the mature ash tree out back.
The deck addition coincided with a home renovation designed with the goal of pulling people outside. “We wanted a space where family and friends could gather, eat and feel relaxed,” says homeowner Emma Roberts. “We really didn’t want something soulless.”
“We wanted the exterior to be the hero of the whole project,” Roberts adds. “It’s awesome to see the kids and their friends winding down after sport on the weekends, talking in the spa, having a pizza.”
The back deck of this Sydney home was also designed around the trees. Leaving the palm trees in place has created a tropical escape for parents and kids alike.
The Houzz survey reveals that the majority of homeowners renovating their outdoor spaces don’t hold back in adding comfort-enhancing products such as outdoor furniture (54 per cent), barbecues (45 per cent), benches (32 per cent), and fire pits (30 per cent). Many also add heaters or fireplaces for warmth and ambience.
Furniture and accessories you’d expect to see inside are increasingly making their way outdoors, and manufacturers are responding with weather-resistant fabrics and finishes.
Entertaining at home is a prime reason homeowners place so much importance on their outdoor living spaces, with 28 per cent adding built-in seating to their decks for this purpose. Informal built-in seating, such as the benches seen at the end of this deck, is just the place to perch with a pre-dinner drink when family and friends come over.
Treat it right
Whether you choose to DIY or bring in a professional to build your deck, be sure the timber you buy hasn’t been unethically sourced from rainforests, and that it can withstand the elements over time.
Most decks require a light sand and a coat or two of decking oil every year to keep them looking good. If you live in an area with a fair amount of rainfall or humidity, or the deck is in a shady position, you may also need to apply mould killer to the top coat to prevent it becoming slippery.
Outdoor fix-ups: timber decks
The spotted gum used to construct this deck has been left to weather to a silver-grey. If you’d rather retain the timber’s original tone, apply clear decking oil annually.