3 ways to decorate a deck

3 L.A. designers show how to make every dollar count when outfitting a outdoor room

deck makeover

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Watch 3 designers transform this deck into 3 different kick-back spaces

This simple raised wood deck flanked by twin concrete pillars screamed out for some furnishings and accessories.

Los Angeles designers Judy Kameon, Jennifer Barguiarena, and Gena Sigala took turns transforming this outdoor room into a $1,500 cocktail lounge, a $600 dining pavilion, and a $300 personal retreat, each with its own palette and personality.

Click ahead to see their deck makeovers, and get ideas you can use at home.

deck design

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Personal retreat ($300)

A favorite indoor piece and accessories with patina set the tone here.

Design: Stylist Gena Sigala

  • 8 sea grass doormats on sale from Cost Plus World Market – $80
  • Umbrella/stand on sale from Out of Asia – $120
  • Container covers (tea crates, wooden barrel, and galvanized bucket) from flea markets and garage sales – $70
  • Small coffee table from a flea market – $15
  • Stylist’s own daybed/ mattress – $0
  • Pillows/pillow covers from garage sales – $12
TOTAL: $297

romantic design

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Personal retreat: Sigala's design tips

Shop for old textiles and slipcovers: You can get "lots of yardage for next to nothing,” says Sigala, who made the mattress cover on the daybed and most of the pillows from two old canvas blankets. Flea markets are her favorite fabric source.

Move a favorite indoor piece out: Then build on it. Sigala’s iron daybed (previous page) sets the mood.

Be clever with storage space: A sturdy canvas tool carrier can be used to stow away novels and magazines. Wooden crates used to ship tea make great cachepots for large plants.

Vintage deck table

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Personal retreat: Decorating secrets

“Patina beats new and shiny every time. My coffee table has a few watermarks, and the legs are a bit wobbly, but those things add to its charm.”

To keep the space from looking too tame, Sigala relies on accessories, also in neutral, but full of character and quirks. “The more the better,” she says. “Accessories are inexpensive.”

Relaxing deck


Personal retreat: Neutral palette

“I love noncolors―they’re so relaxing,” says Sigala. Dusky rose, pearl gray, pale lavender, beige, and light blue all provide just a hint of hue.

Deck makeover

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Carefree and playful dining pavilion ($600)

The beauty of this design is its easy assembly and disassembly. Design: Stylist Jennifer Barguiarena (jenstyle@me.com)

  • 4 ceramic pots (30 inches) on sale from Jackalope Pottery – $334
  • 4 bamboo poles and plastic pipe from a hardware store – $31
  • Canvas drop cloth and tent hardware from the Home Depot – $30
  • Sheet metal top from a supply company – $33
  • Folding chairs from eBay – $64
  • Old door (table top) – $0
  • Pipe table legs from a hardware store – $76
A dropcloth with a grommet at each corner forms the top; it’s attached with S-hooks to lag screw eyes at the top of each pole. Each pole is inserted into a 2-ft.-long plumbing pipe (2 inches in diameter), secured in the pot with gravel.

Total: $568

Outdoor design tips

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Carefree dining pavilion: Design tips

Artificially “age” pieces: An old table with nicks and patina has character; it sets the stage for a relaxed space. “I wanted to create the beautifully aged look of an old zinc bar on the cheap,” says Barguiarena, who nailed sheet metal onto an old door and aged the metal with salt and vinegar.

Shop in hardware stores: A painter’s drop cloth makes strong, durable tent fabric. And plumbing pipes plus a part called a bell reducer make convincing table legs.

Keep it flexible: All but the pots are lightweight and can be moved easily, clearing the deck for another look or a different kind of party.

pitcher and glasses set

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Carefree dining pavilion: Style secrets

"The buttoned-down look doesn’t suit the outdoors,” Barguiarena says. “People have more fun when the space is relaxed."

Resist overdecorating, and be spare with permanent accessories, she says. "Better to bring your indoor things outside to suit the occasion. It gives you more flexibility, and you’ll save money.”

outdoor color scheme

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Carefree dining pavilion: Earth and sky palette

Use browns and blues as primary colors, and accents in any other color―like rose and coral―will complement them.

Deck lounge

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Mod, Moroccan cocktail lounge ($1,500)

The style is low and lounge-y with a modern edge and not an ounce of kitsch.

Design: Judy Kameon, Elysian Landscapes (213/380-3185)

  • Ottoman (coffee table and square cushion) from West Elm – $400
  • Frog rug from Dash & Albert – $280
  • Outdoor umbrella from Plain Air – $280
  • 3 custom-made throw pillows from Plain Air – $300
  • 2 banana-fiber floor cushions from Ikea – $60
  • Chartreuse lantern from Z Gallerie – $50
  • Hurricane lamp/ candle from Crate and Barrel – $27
  • Similar throw from Calypso Home –  $50
  • 2 yellow pots from a flea market – $30
Total: $1,477

Deck furniture

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Mod Moroccan lounge: Design tips

Reinvent furniture: An ottoman’s frame turns into a coffee table; its cushion is on the floor. Banana-fiber cushions provide additional seating. Ground-hugging furnishings are informal, feel exotic, and don’t block garden views.

Start with a bold rug: A design that uses two or three striking colors is like a road map pointing where to go next. The rug defines the space and color scheme, making it easier to choose accessories.

Try an umbrella: They're designer Judy Kameon's secret weapon. "Umbrellas are a lot less expensive than permanent structures, and they’re great for atmosphere," she says. "Take them down to view the stars; move them out if you’re having a party.”

garden accessories

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Mod Moroccan lounge: Spending secret

With accessories, go low budget. Kameon scooped up two of these yellow pots from a flea market for $30.

Pieces that set the tone for the whole garden―like the graphic rug on the previous page―might be worth allotting more money for.

Mod color scheme

Mod Moroccan lounge: Classic color palette

Blue and yellow, with hits of chartreuse and apricot. Vibrant colors outdoors stand out against garden foliage.

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