My talk with Lawrence Winterburn continues here, from Page 2. If one person knows how to design a deck, this is the man. On this page, I ask Lawrence some further questions, including how to design a deck that will be unique.
How to Design a Deck That Will Be Unique
Q. One of the examples in your deck portfolio is titled, “Unique Decks.” Please relate some of your more interesting experiences with such decks, addressing the challenges you face when you design a deck that will be unique.
A. The most challenging jobs are the ones that someone else started. These are also where you earn the admiration of the client. Often they have been looking at a semi-finished project for years and when you pull it all together and make it happen they are exuberant.
This deck was framed by a client… it sat for a couple of years with decking only, no stairs, no rail and perfectly visible from the road.
The yard was landscaped nicely with a pool, so we added a glass rail so as not to obstruct the view of the yard and pool. We added skirting, a privacy screen that was sketched in rough form for the client at the initial consultation. The client told me that she had a steady stream of traffic slowing down to admire the privacy screen after it appeared. Coming from a career as a trim carpenter, I like to finish the skirting and trim out the deck a little and on this deck we built in a storage access and used 2 different skirting details to add interest. Here's a picture of the finished deck.
At times we actually plan the involvement of the homeowner in building the frame, and since he was saving some labor we get carte blanche on the deck design side. We designed this deck for a fee, gave him a tips document to help him build the frame to our specifications (and so that he could obtain permits), and I dropped in a couple of times to answer questions and lend guidance.
Once he finished the frame and decked it, we fabricated the trim, steps, rails and pergola…. And built the pergola in the background.
This was challenging due to the shape of the home, windows that needed to retain a view and the walkout basement adjacent. The sheer scope of the home demanded a large entrance with large newels. We had enough space for creation of a formal dining room and lots of space for furniture. It is the kind of deck that you can furnish with large cozy furniture in numerous ways without choking off the passageways.
In the case of another deck, we were challenged by the height of the home. The walkout made the deck about 6’ off the ground. I choked on this for a while before becoming inspired enough to make suggestions.
I decided that the deck would fit much better if it utilized materials common with the home. Think about it this way. With a large deck on this home, if you were 10 feet from the deck you would see half wood…with shade beneath attached to a brick house. It just didn’t work visually.
The brick columns supporting pergola beams along with the curve worked well to make the deck one with the house -- part of the home. An extension rather than protuberance.
The deck design was simplified a little by the builder to keep the budget within reach of the homeowner.