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Decks for day dreaming.

Some decks take your breath away. They connect a house to its sloping or uneven site in a vivid and powerful way. As this portfolio of decks from Washington, Oregon, and California shows, the most innovative parts of decks are found along their perimeters or at level changes. These are the places where designers address the problems of safety, wind control, privacy, and shading, and often add built-in features such as tables, benches, arbors, or planters.


Mike Lervick and Vicki Mandin's deck runs almost the full length of their house on a bluff near Marysville, Washington. What unfolds beyond is a view that is pure Northwest: the placid blue-gray waters of Puget Sound, a nearby tree-textured shoreline, and distant low islands. To keep the view unobstructed while adding wind protection, Lervick placed panels of safety glass in the straight sections of railing.

The deck steps down to a lower level at one end. When you look at this part of the deck from .inside the house, you can't see the railing at all. The ends of the 70-foot-long, L-shaped deck appear more solid: they curve around the corners with graceful, built-in benches.

The visible decking and railing are all heart redwood, but the hardworking underpinnings are pressure-treated lumber and steel I-beams. The challenging site required the anchors to be drilled 15 to 25 feet into the slope in order to reach bedrock.

* Design: Mike Lervick and Vicki Mandin

* Contractor: Davis Construction Services, Arlington, WA; (360) 652-6712


This elevated deck, sheltered by what looks like an oversize lathhouse, seamlessly extends one end of a hillside house near Sacramento. The deck provides a broad, level entertaining area that also offers sun protection and some visual screening from the neighboring homes. The two-story-tall surrounding framework matches the roof pitch and wall height of the main house, camouflaging the outdoor space. The built-in perimeter planter functions as wainscoting and adds softening greenery to the hard-edged space. Built-in fans and lighting make the deck more inviting for balmy-evening entertaining.

* Design: Michael Glassman, landscape designer, Sacramento; (916) 444-1275


Instead of a broad sweep of boards all running the same direction, this elevated deck features an intricate pattern of short mahogany 1 1/8-by-6s running at 45 [degrees] angles to the sides. The decking appears to be two-toned, but it's only the direction of the grain changing the way light reflects. Since so many boards start and stop across the breadth of the deck, the network of supporting joists required careful planning, precise placement, and meticulous craftsmanship.

* Builder: Gary Marsh of All Decked Out, Novato, CA


Even when the fog swirls in from the Golden Gate, rooftop entertaining continues, thanks to this elegant windscreen that echoes the architectural style of the house. Large panels of tempered glass provide sweeping views of San Francisco and the bay, while small, upper-level windows on the windscreen add refined detailing. Two panels of curving glass match the form of the windows in the rooms below.

The tallest of the window walls protecting three sides of the 16- by 18-foot deck has a multilayered trellis above a storage bench. A planter clad with tongue-and-groove siding puts flowers at table height. The decking is divided into removable panels.

* Design: Alan W. Martinez, architect, San Francisco; (415) 626-9379

* Contractor: Haakon Leiro Construction, San Mateo, CA; (415) 347-6007


A triangular pop-out broadens a once-slender second-story deck in Portland. The elongated right-angle triangle has a 6-foot-long bench that provides seating for a picnic table. For architectural flair, the remodeled deck has red-painted pipe railings running between broad piers clad with diagonally applied siding that matches the siding of the house.

* Design: Garry Papers, architect, Portland; (503) 232-7292

* Contractor: R. J. Kiefel Remodeling, Portland; (503) 239-4838


Rotting boards and railings led Seattle homeowners Robyn and Don Cannon to replace their 30-year-old deck with an entirely new design. This time, they wanted a deck that would be a more elegant extension of their home and last as long as possible. They wanted a railing that would be virtually indestructible. The new Cape Cod-inspired railing mimics wood but is made of extruded steel that has been electrostatically painted. The decking itself is sealed vertical-grain Douglas fir. No nails or screws are visible because the contractor didn't use any; instead, he put the deck together with Simpson fasteners (available at most lumberyards and building centers) attached to the deck's underside. All of this extra effort was worthwhile because, says Robyn, "the deck is really our outside living room."

* Design and construction: John Roehm, Spokane; (509) 325-3361

* Railing fabricator: Flaig Steel & Fabricating, Spokane; (509) 487-0841


A cascade of stairs and landings pinwheels around a rocky outcropping and a venerable oak and cedar at the home of Patty Greeves and Bobbie Kerns in Southern California's San Jacinto Mountains. The stairs leading from the upper-level deck are freestanding: they're supported by cross-stacked redwood 4-by-4s that allow the curving footprint. Each tread tapers from 18 to 9 inches and appears to float on the open framework. The stair railing is made of short, horizontal boards mounted to posts at the projecting ends of the cribbed framework.

The curving lower-level deck is edged by a bench-rail that follows 16- and 21-foot-radius arcs. The bench's cap rail is made from mitered lengths of 2-by-8s, the backrest is faced with 1-by-4s, and the seat is made of 2-by-4s set side by side, like piano keys. Alternating pieces of vertical 1-by-2s, 2-by-2s, and 1-by-3s mask the upper deck's underpinnings and disguise access doors to storage areas.

* Design and construction: Scott Padgett, Idyllwild, CA; (909) 659-4278
COPYRIGHT 1997 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Whiteley, Peter O.
Date:Jun 1, 1997
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