Create an Entertaining Deck

Family cookouts and outdoor entertaining typically revolve around two things: your backyard deck and your barbecue grill. You can create an entertaining environment on your outdoor living space with a little creativity and a bit of good advice. Increasingly, homeowners are bringing their personalities outdoors by applying color to their decks. This allows you to perk up your deck with a splash of color, while simultaneously covering up minor imperfections in the wood. The stains add a hint of color, while still allowing the natural wood grain to show through.

A popular design trend is to use a semi-transparent stain or clear finish on the floorboards and a solid color on the railings of your deck. This look is called a two-toned effect and consumers across the country are getting into it with the most popular look being white railings combined with darker floorboards.

Solid stains provide complete coverage, hiding significant imperfections and foot-worn areas. Solid colors can create dramatic new looks like two-toning and even floorboard patterns, such as checkerboards and stencils. To create a patchwork pattern, simply use painter’s tape to create a pattern on the floor and apply the stain to the exposed portions. When dry, remove the tape and stain the other portions.

Another idea is to create a cooking area away from seating and conversation spots. In addition to the grill, consider adding built-in serving areas, storage cabinets and a decorative vent hood. Using stone and other rugged materials will make cleaning as easy as simply hosing down the area.

Other entertaining ideas include:

1. A wood-fired outdoor oven for barbecue enthusiasts and pizza lovers.

2. A tiled eating counter/wet bar for entertaining guests — great for the host who’s looking for an easy way to create a little more room.

3. A tiered deck with connecting steps that separates cooking from conversing.

4. Built-in flower pots to grow herbs, tomatoes and other garden vegetables within your guests’ reach.