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All Decked Out
A deck can be an extension of your living space when you outfit it with the comforts of home, such as areas to eat

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All Decked Out
Whether you have a sprawling multilevel deck or a just-wide-enough balcony, creating a comfortable outdoor living space is a breeze.

It seems as though fully decorated outdoor rooms are as commonplace these days as kitchens and bathrooms—but like those utilitarian spaces, how much you can do to personalize them is generally limited by size and budget. It doesn't have to be; try these simple tips for making the most of your deck or balcony—no matter the size.

TIPS FOR CITY SLICKERS
When outfitting a balcony for outdoor living, think "dual purpose." Tables, planters, deck boxes, chairs or benches certainly should be small in scale, but also look for stylish pieces that provide hidden storage inside or room underneath to stow items out of the way.

TIPS FOR SUBURBANITES AND COUNTRY DWELLERS
If you have the luxury of space, you can create multiple seating areas for lounging and dining. You'll still need storage, though, for keeping cushions, candleholders, matches, grilling supplies and serving pieces close at hand. A large deck box can hold all of these items; choose one that blends in with your décor so you won't mind having it in plain sight.

TIPS FOR EVERYONE
Lighting

  • Candlelight sets a relaxing mood. Scatter tea lights all around in interesting votive holders or jars, such as Mason or baby food jars, of assorted sizes.
  • Shelter pillar candles from the wind in lanterns or glass hurricanes. Stones, shells or a layer of sand at the bottom of the vessel can be a nice detail and help hold the candle upright.
  • String lights don't have to be tacky. Shop for decorative versions to match your style.

Plant Life

  • Plants and flowers bring a little life to a deck. Select varieties that will flourish in containers and pots—such as geraniums, ivy, coleus, sweet potato vine—and will grow to suit the size of your space; small ornamental trees can also provide privacy.
  • Group pots of different heights, shapes and sizes. If you like, you can coordinate them by color or material (metal or terra cotta, for example)—though a mismatched assortment is also lovely.
  • Pick a color palette and choose plants and flowers in similar or beautifully contrasting hues.
  • Think outside the pot. Built-in planters, window boxes and rail boxes are also great for decks.

Soft Side

  • Outdoor rugs can define a seating area and make a deck more homey—they also cover up any imperfections on the ground. A colorful vinyl mat can have either a casual or modern feel; a simple jute rug is natural and neutral.
  • Add cushions and pillows to make every chair, sofa and bench more inviting. Fabrics should be water resistant and easy to clean (look for ones made for outdoor use). Or you can sew your own out of oilcloth or vinyl tablecloths.
  • Hang a canopy—simple canvas or flowy sheers—overhead to filter or block the sun and add a soft touch. It should be easy to remove and stow for whenever you want to let the sun shine down.

Dine out

  • If you have the space, set out a dining table and chairs. A sideboard, rolling cart or the top of a large deck box are ideal surfaces for serving food and beverages. Drape with a colorful napkin or placemat for decoration.
  • Even if space is limited, a petite bistro table, side table or garden stool provides a place to rest a snack, hors d'oeuvres or a drink. Again, the top of a small deck box is one more surface to serve from, can act as a side table and adds some storage.
  • Plastic food containers and pitchers travel from inside to outside easily. You can use a chip-and-dip tray to serve everything from what its name suggests to antipasto to fruit and chocolate sauce; a lid keeps bugs away.

 

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