Looking for ways to improve your summer deck scene, but not sure where to start? This week, we’ve got some fresh ideas to make your outdoor space more inviting and enjoyable. And if you’ve been thinking about adding a deck to your home and aren’t sure where to start, check out our two-part how-to series here and here!

Deck Upgrade 1: Outdoor Lighting

Installing or adding outdoor lighting to your deck brings the space alive, letting you enjoy time outdoors further into the evenings and ensuring that your guests safely enjoy themselves.  This option doesn’t necessarily require a large investment, so it can function as a quick facelift for your entertaining space.

If you’re thinking about adding lighting, ask yourself: am I looking to install permanent fixtures that will lend safety and structure to my deck,  or am I just hoping to add to the aesthetic of my outdoor living space?

If the former is your concern, then here are some great options from the folks over at HouseLogic:

  • Installing fixtures onto deck posts can be a great way to illuminate your deck while saving precious space. Many manufacturers offer pre-lit posts as upgrades, so this is one route to easily adding beautifying light to your deck. You can retrofit lighting onto deck posts, too, but it’s best to hire a professional.
  • Railing lights signal a transition from one part of your deck to another, or to the ground, so they function as a safety measure. But they can also draw attention to unique architecture!
  • Some building codes require exterior stairways to be lit. You can easily comply with this code by utilizing motion-activated lights, which are battery-operated and a cinch to install.

If you’re looking to add style to your deck but aren’t interested in the cost and upkeep that come with permanent fixtures, give these ideas a try:

  • String lights are available just about everywhere these days, and for good reason! They provide a punch of style and ambiance without breaking the bank. You can find them in many styles, sizes, and colors, from dainty glass to paper lantern strings to heavy-duty outdoor options designed to withstand the elements. Options for complementing your deck decor abound. Here are a few ideas!
  • Strategically arranging lanterns on your deck can lend ambiance to your evening get-togethers, too. Like string lights, lanterns come in an array of styles, from traditional candle-lit lanterns to modern pre-lit options. You can even DIY it!
  • An abundance of attractive candles always creates a welcoming atmosphere while adding light to your outdoor space. Slip in a citronella candle or two, and no one will be the wiser!

Deck Upgrade 2: Decorative Rails

This upgrade comes with a cost, but it can make all the difference in the aesthetic appeal of your deck. Here are some fresh ideas for decorative deck railings from ImproveNet:

Wooden patio with table in center and fencing all around

Cable deck railings feature a hybrid of wood and metal, and the cables run either horizontally or vertically. This option is especially attractive if your deck overlooks beautiful views that you’d like to show off! Glass deck railings work great in this scenario, too.

Black fencing on deck with trees in distance

Wrought iron deck railings bring sophistication and a traditional look to any outdoor space. They are durable, too, so you can count on them for years to come.

Deck Upgrade 3: Deck Umbrella or Pergola

Does your deck feature enough shade to keep your family or guests comfortable before the sun goes down? If not, a deck umbrella or pergola can add dimension and livability to your space. This is a must-have deck upgrade for anyone who enjoys dining al-fresco, or for families who enjoy their outdoor living space mainly before the sun has set.

If a deck umbrella is what you’re in the market for, be sure to seek out one that fits your deck’s shape, size, and style. Here’s a helpful buying guide!

Deck umbrellas are the more affordable option by far, but pergolas offer a longer-term solution to bringing shade and protection from the elements to your home. As these photos illustrate, a pergola can also bring beauty and an extra degree of privacy to your outdoor space, which is especially welcomed in neighborhoods with closely-spaced properties.

Let us know which upgrade you’ll be taking advantage of this year to make your deck a more enjoyable outdoor space!