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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

7 Considerations When Designing a Deck for Family Gatherings

Posted by Worthington Millwork on 3/7/19 6:00 AM

front porch-1For many families, the entire purpose of building on a new deck is to create a relaxing place to spend time together outside. Summer barbeques, birthday parties, and long evenings spent looking at the stars and talking quietly together. Decks intended for family gatherings are designed to be especially comfortable as an indoor-outdoor place to relax and talk. But that also means there are special considerations if you are planning to build a new family deck onto your home. Whether you are starting fresh or renovating an old deck, these things are important parts of your decision-making process.

Room to Relax

First, you want to make sure there is plenty of room for your family and guests to relax. Decks built like traditional porches can often wind up being too narrow for people to actually sit across from each other and hold an eye-to-eye conversation. So plan your family-sized to be wide by default, considering the size of furniture you want to put there when it's done. And enough room for people to move around without bumping into each other.

Absolute Sturdiness

When you're building a place for loved ones to gather, you need it to be absolutely safe. You need to know that the steps, slats, and supports will remain rock-solid even if your team wins the super bowl and everyone starts jumping and cheering all at once. This means not only do you need a proven and architecturally sound porch design, you also need the sturdiest possible timbers and steel braces for your building material.

Rainy Days

Having an open-air deck is glorious on clear days, but the weather isn't perfect all the time. On rainy days, you can still enjoy your verandah and even keep your furniture dry if you plan correctly. This is why many enclosed porch designs feature glass windows rather than open air or screens. You can also use clear plastic flaps or even glass windows that slide open to create a place where your family can relax and listen to the rain while remaining comfortably dry.

Keeping Insects at Bay

Another consideration is insects. Even on beautiful days, the mosquitoes, gnats, and their many flying friends can interrupt the peaceful socializing between family members and friends. Some families don't care a whit about insect life and have their own ways of dealing with it. Citronella candles, a garlic-rich diet, or simply swatting any intruders away.

But if insects bug you, there are several porch designs to deal with that. Screens - cloth or wire mesh - can be used to block both insects and a certain amount of airborne pollens. However, they can also obscure the view, so each family decides individually whether screens are the right choice for them. Like glass and clear plastic, screens can also be designed to be pulled back at whim.

Blinding Sun Angles

One subtly important issue is how the sun will affect guest comfort. If your porch is, incidentally, placed so that late afternoon sun hits people right in the eyes, it won't be as pleasant as you hope. Fortunately, this is also relatively easy to deal with. Overhanging shades from the roof and the strategic placement of lattice sections can elegantly block the most unfortunate sunshine angles. Just be aware of how the sun plays over your new porch.

Cooking and Eating

Some porches are designed to let your family and guests actually cook their own snacks around a central grill or hot plate. Or you can build a safe place for a small grill or kitchenette right there on the deck. This is a great way to keep the party going, but it takes planning to make it work. You can even design a pass-through window from the kitchen, as long as you lay the groundwork.

You may also want to plan for customization that will make it easier to eat out on the verandah. A cabinet for dishes, a sidebar for dishes or drinks. Or built-in chairs with cup holders and swivel trays, if that's how your family rolls.

People Coming and Going

The family porch also sees a lot of activity. When family is always stopping by or heading in and out of the house, you need your porch to allow fluid movement. In other words, it should be easy for someone to get up, leave, and come back without crowding anyone else. Plan for wide walking spaces and plenty of room for people to rearrange chairs based on preference.

A Place for Pets

Finally, don't forget the family pets. If you have dogs or cats that hang out with the family, they will likely want a place to join you out on the porch as well. Consider setting aside a space for pet beds where your pets can come out and enjoy the shared family time out where all the interesting smells blow by in the breeze.

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Building a custom porch isn't just about your home. It's about how you want to host your friends, family, and even your pets. Keep these things in mind when designing your new verandah. And remember, it's your custom project. So you can build it any way you want. For a consultation on your new porch building plans, contact us today!

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