This is a blog entry written for Part 2 is now online!

Designing a deck with your children in mind - Part 1

How your view can impact your blood pressure, and how lighting can affect your view.

I know - it’s Winter. So why has asked me to write about designing kid-friendly decks? The answer, of course, is that preparation is key. And I’m sorry to disappoint you but a proper deck design does not occur overnight. There are many things to consider; function, form, and now more than ever, materials! Beginning with a contradiction, I will help you gain some insight on how to create a deck that will provide years of child-safe, adult-approved enjoyment!

The Contradiction - Don’t focus the design of your deck around your kids? What?

Census Canada says that as of 2006 the average family had one child in the household. The Devil’s Advocate would ask that we consider having two children; I am inclined to oblige. Next consider the amount of time you think your child would be unstable while propelling themselves forward. 2 years? Maybe 3? With an average age difference of 2 years between siblings, an average family household has a period of about 5 years when not all family members can navigate uneven terrain. A properly constructed deck, however, will last an average of 20 years. That equates to 15 years of dull and boring during which time all the members of your family are able to run an obstacle course.

It doesn’t make sense to build a big flat square deck of duldrum and claim it has to be that way for 20 years, when for 75% of that time your children won’t topple over for no good reason. Instead incorporate design features that make your deck safe for children while retaining visual interest and appeal that will last a lifetime.

Where’s Waldo? Or whatever you called them…

When you are at the playground and your youngster is around the far side of the monkey bars, do you feel anxious? How about when you’re at the grocery store and you feel that tinge of panic, only to have Suzie appear from behind the crate of watemelons? The ability to keep an eye on your kids is of utmost importance; otherwise your blood pressure is sure to rise. This is why you should always try to keep the line of sight from major windows or doors in your home clear of obstructions. It may seem like a simple concept but time and time again I see privacy screens in front of a door (strange, right?), railings that end in the middle of a window, or a pergola that totally blocks the view of the backyard from the kitchen sink. Envision yourself standing at the sink cleaning up after dinner while the kids kick the soccer ball around in the backyard. You can glance up at any point to check on them. Now stick a gazebo between you and where your kids are playing. That’s just plain stupid. Don’t do that.

“Mommy! It’s dark!”

Let’s assume you are convinced that a level change on your deck would add major visual appeal, help delineate space on a large deck, and increase the level of awesomeness in your backyard. Some may argue that to be downright dangerous after the sun goes down. To address this problem and increase even further the level of awesomeness in your backyard you could add some low voltage lighting to any level changes or stair risers. They add a warm, intimate glow to the space for the adults and in the context here they aide those of us with still developing motor skills. You can add lighting underneath benches, on railings, or even on privacy screens. After all, as Highpoint Deck Lighting says , “Even the smallest light can dispel much darkness”. What a bright idea!


Stay tuned for Part 2 - How to keep crawling toddlers contained, and a healthy Earth sustained.