©Wolmanized Wood This deck design offers a number of places to come and go. It wraps around the new screened-in porch and divides the large area into outdoor "rooms."

Multiple Access Points

For maximum enjoyment and pure practicality, nothing can beat a deck that features several ideas for moving back and forth from the outdoors to the interior. Having multiple access points also gives a deck flexibility in the way it functions and underscores its role as an extension of the house and its living spaces. A deck that's accessible from a number of areas can lessen some of the wear and tear caused by foot traffic that would normally travel down the hallway, for instance, and cut across the family room to get outside.

When two or three rooms open onto a deck, the overall space can be divided into informal zones that host different functions. Comfortable furnishings might be grouped near the living room; the barbecue can be positioned off the kitchen and not far from the dining table and chairs. And when a deck design incorporates more than one level, each accessed from a different point, the outdoor area can be home to individual "rooms" geared to specific activities.

For more decorating ideas outside the home, see: