How to Create Deck Zones

How to Create Deck Zones

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Creating deck zones is a great design device for utilizing deck space to its fullest. You can use all of the design arsenal tools, such as textures, colors and of course plant life. You can decorate a deck so that it becomes an outside room for the entire family to enjoy.

What Is a Zone?

Some decks feature different levels. Others decks are designed to have larger sections that jut out beyond the rest of the deck. Both designs create a natural division that’s ideal for setting up different zones. Just designate what zone each area will be and you’re off to a good start. Other decks that are an uninterrupted space, such as a rectangle or square, can be divided into sections to create different zones.

Measure Deck Space

Be sure to take measurements the same way you would when furnishing the rooms inside your home. With accurate measurements you’ll know if there’s enough space for the furniture you want to buy and how many zones you can create.

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Dining Zone

There are a few things to consider before you design a dining area. The first is – know where the sun is. A great way to ensure you have a successful dining zone is to track the sun so you clearly know where it will be at various meal times.

  • Use a large umbrella, shade sail or consider building a pergola if shade is needed.
  • Add plants and flowers to give color and texture to this section of your deck.
  • Select a colorful outdoor area rug.
  • The style of furniture should blend or even match the furniture used in other zones for a cohesive deck design.

Locating Your Outdoor Dining Room

Just as inside your home, you want to locate the deck dining area so that it’s convenient to the cooking zone. This could be an outdoor kitchen or simply the grill. This zone should have quick and easy access to the kitchen inside your home.

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Choosing Table Shape

Depending on how many zones you’ve created, the table shape can either help or hinder your overall deck design.

  • Square or rectangle decks: If you’ve used square and rectangle furniture, break up the straight lines with a round or oval table. These shapes take up less space and create a softer design effect.
  • If you need shade, consider a table with an umbrella hole cutout.

 Chairs for Comfort

There’s nothing worse than an uncomfortable piece of furniture, especially when it comes to dining chairs.

  • Sit in all the seating style furniture before buying to ensure you and your family as well as guests will be comfortable while dining.
  • Look for back support.
  • You don’t want chairs that spring back too far when you sit in them.
  • Add lumbar pillows for extra comfort and support.


Outdoor dining should be ample enough so your guests can see their food. You don’t necessarily want the same kind of ambient lighting inside your home, but there are some excellent outdoor lighting options. These include:

  • A pair of floor candelabra will add a romantic touch.
  • Hurricane candle holders placed on the dining table are ideal for breezy summer nights.
  • If this area of your deck is covered, opt for a candle chandelier. Choose from styles for votive, taper and column candles.
  • String bulb lights crisscrossed over the table for an Old World flair.
  • Paper lanterns provide color during the day and nice diffused lighting for evening meals.

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If you need privacy, there are several ways to ensure privacy for your dining or other areas on your deck.

  • Plants: Use a variety of types, heights and groupings, such as hanging basket, vines on lattice screens and tall column plant.
  • Shades: An outside roller shade blocks the afternoon sun and provides a privacy screen.
  • Curtains: Outdoor curtains can be opened when not needed and closed for privacy.

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Other Deck Zones

Depending on your family and particular needs for outdoor deck living you may want to create several other zones or prefer one zone type over another. Consider the basic decorating ideas presented for the dining zone and use your imagination.

Additional zones to consider include:

  • Conversation Zone: Choose the type of furniture you want for this area. Do you like rocking chairs or is a sectional more your family’s style of relaxing? A swing or glider may become a cherish piece of furniture.
  • Cooking Zone: For some decks, this zone may only be big enough to accommodate a grill. Be sure to have a rolling cart to hold trays, food and tools and easy cleanup in the kitchen. Larger decks may support an outdoor kitchen complete with a bar area. For convenience, locate this zone within easy access to the indoors kitchen and the dining zone.
  • Kids Zone: If you have children, you definitely want to create a zone just for them. You can set up a kids section or corner with furniture and storage for toys.
  • Board Game Zone: For board game lovers, set up a zone for a game of chess, checkers or other board games. You’ll want a table large enough to accommodate the players as well as comfortable chairs. These might be metal chairs with thick cushions or simple wooden chairs.
  • Reading Zone: Curling up on a chaise lounge, hammock, rocking chair or swing to steal away for an hour or two to enjoy the latest bestseller. This zone might not be used just during the daytime, so add a table and lamp to set a glass of wine or a cup of coffee while enjoying your reading time.
  • Napping Zone: Taking a nap on the deck might be your idea of the perfect weekend afternoon. Make sure it’s a comfortable time with either an outdoor chaise chair, daybed or hammock.
  • Hot Tub Zone: If a hot tub is on your wish list, set aside a corner of your deck for this luxury item. You can use roller shades, curtains, lattice and plants to create privacy screening where needed. Set a few potted plant groupings around the tub and a pair of floor candelabra for great ambience.

Make Every Item Count

Design your deck so that every item you add to your creation makes a difference. By paying attention to the smallest detail, you’ll end up with a stunning deck design that you’ll enjoy sharing with family and friends.

All photos: BEHR 


AuthorSally Painter

"Everyone can have a beautiful home decor. It just takes a little creativity," says author and freelance writer Sally Painter. This former commercial and residential designer is also a Feng Shui practitioner and believes that, "Everything you choose to put in your home should resonate with you emotionally. If it doesn't - get rid of it!"