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Deck design is a lot of fun and provides an opportunity to bridge the outside and inside of your home. There’s a whole lot you can to do customize your deck, whether you want to turn it into an alfresco dining oasis (hello, zebra pillows!) or want a full-on overhaul (new flooring, rails, etc.). Below are 10 creative design ideas to help get you started.

1. Create a Tranquil Atmosphere with Water

A lot of homeowners skimp on water, but we feel it can be a great addition to your deck. When incorporated in conjunction with soothing light, water can deliver a relaxing environment with its calming nature. There are several ways you can include the feature into your deck design, ranging from pond-less waterfalls to the installation of fancy, tiny fountains which can fit almost anywhere.

2. Experiment with Mixed-Materials

If your house is full of creative touches, you should also let yourself think outside the box when it comes to your deck design. Try experimenting with whimsical pairings and disparate elements. The combination of concrete elements and wood decking works particularly well with urban, modern, and contemporary properties. Besides the stairs and walls, consider incorporating built-in benches or a concrete planter.

3. Avoid the Cookie-cutter Look with a Curved Design

Aim for a curved design to add to the dimension of your residence and balance out the rectangular elements in your deck. The sharp angles of a rectangular structure are clean and sleek, but a curved design can soften them and add a modern look. Additionally, you could install a curved sitting space where you and your loved ones could unwind after a tiring day at work. These types of decks look best with contemporary architecture.

4. Use Lights to Add Ambience

The right lightning can help to create the perfect scene for any deck. By using fairy lights or by embedding lighting into the vinyl or wooden flooring, you can enhance the ambiance of the deck and create an inviting spot to relax and take in the surroundings. You might want to go with LEDs as they’re known for their luminosity and energy efficiency. If you have solar panels on your home, then this addition to your deck design could be offset by the energy generated through your home’s solar system.

5. Accommodate a Full-Sized Dining Table

Love eating outdoors? Aim for a deck design that you can enjoy all year round. Plan the structure to accommodate a full-sized dining table and spruce it up for maximum enjoyment. To help with your outdoor meal creation and cook-outs, consider investing in an outdoor cooking station—perhaps with a mini fridge and preparation surface. Think of your deck as a restaurant with the view as a backdrop. Hang lanterns or string lights for special occasions. There are endless ways to get creative with this deck design idea.

6. Utilize Cut outs for Planting Space

If a small backyard is your only outdoor space, you might be tempted to use wall-to-wall decking to maximize the available area. If you go with this approach, make sure to leave some cut outs for planting space. Adding some evergreens, flowering perennials, and billowing grasses can make a significant difference in turning the area from an urban to a green space.

7. Create a Visual Impact with Vertical Elements

Most homeowners consider the deck to be a basic floor, but it’s the vertical components (skirting, railing and overhead structures) that make the biggest statement. There are a range of components and railing designs available on the market, so choose a railing that complements your space perfectly. If you want to go with a raised design for your deck, you may want to choose decorative skirting to frame its underside. And if there’s space for a patio underneath, consider going for a stay-dry system, so the deck can turn into a retreat whenever it rains.

8. Don’t Forget Furniture

Pick one elegant piece of furniture and keep it in a place where it attains a “focal point status.” Opt for easy-care furniture that will stand up to the elements and wipe off easily after food spills or mud splatters. Though you’ll probably want to go neutral for the furniture itself, try adding a splash of color with mix-and-match throw pillows. Finally, you can create storage space by looking for storage-friendly furniture, such as a side table that opens up to storage space underneath the surface or a couch that features pull out drawers beneath the cushions.

9. Planters and Gazebos May Do the Trick

Unless you live in a city with the same weather all year round, you’ll probably use your deck more in the summer if it has something to block the sun. Consider building a pergola structure to shade your deck. Planters with small trees and bushes can also help shield your deck from the sun.

10. Add Your Own Personal Touches

This last tip can be as inexpensive or costly as you like. Placing an outdoor rug is a convenient way to give some style to your deck without cluttering the area. Add wall art to the exterior of your home (assuming your deck butts up against the walls of your home), and if you have a roof-like structure that covers (or partially covers) your deck, try hanging colored lanterns for pizazz.

In their simplest form, decks add square footage and curb appeal to your home, and you can turn yours into an expression of your inner style by glamming it up with some creativity.