Bigger means better, right? 

In America- you’d think our answer would always be a big ol’ Texas-style “Yes!!”. 

Our bathroom sizes have more than doubled since the 1970’s. The size of new houses has increased by 150% since the 1980’s. And the size of our decks has increased so much we’re now seeing the construction of what they call “monster decks”. 

Yes, you read that right- monster decks. These decks are 3,000 square feet, or a whole 2,500 square feet larger than a standard deck. 

Here in Pennsylvania? I like to think we’re a little more on the practical side of things. 

And let’s face it- many homeowners just don’t have the space, or the budget, for a giant deck. 

For homeowners with a small yard, these stats are discouraging. Is there a way to enjoy the outdoors without building a deck the size of house…and having enough left over in the budget to buy hotdogs for the opening-day grill out?

Today, we’re going to talk about exactly that. 

You want to get outside more and the size of your backyard shouldn’t hold you back. Whether you’re designing a new deck retrofitted to a small yard, or looking for ways to make your small deck feel larger, this article is for you. 

Here are five ways to make the most of a small deck: 

#1 . Design Secrets That Make Your Small Deck Feel Bigger

Little boy in front of funhouse mirror

Ever been to a parking-lot carnival? Do you recall the mirrors in the fun house? Your face still looks like you, just elongated. 

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting funhouse mirror installation on your tiny deck. But in the same way natural light and white paint make a space feel bigger inside your home, there are exterior deck tricks that also make your deck appear and feel bigger than it may be. 

One of the best tips to alter the size perception of your deck is a best-kept contractor tip: Install your deck boards diagonally instead of perpendicular! 

Small Deck with perpendicular boards

Your eyes follow the length of the deck panels. And since diagonal boards run further than perpendicular lines? It looks longer.

The light paint color trick doesn’t just work for your home’s interior, either. Choosing a lighter deck color creates the same effect. Light colored decks have other perks for us Pennsylvania homeowners, too:

  • Lighter boards absorb less heat- perfect for bare feet on a hot summer day
  • Pollen fall is less visible on lighter colored decks. So if you’re deck backs into a wooded area? Your kids won’t be so tempted to ‘draw’ in the pollen before you have a chance to hose it off. 

My last tip to make a small deck feel spacious? Choose low profile railings. Take a look at how these homeowners opted for cables instead of wood railing:

Small Deck with low profile railing

Low profile railings don’t close off the space in the same way other materials do. And with designs as gorgeous as this:

You’re elevating your curb appeal at the same time. 

#2 Clear the Clutter for A Functional Family Deck!

Organized small deck

“A place for everything and everything in its place.” 

This old adage is one of the wisest when it comes to organizing your small deck. Too much stuff- whether it be large furniture, deck toys, or accessories- makes a space feel cluttered. 

Cluttered spaces aren’t just an eyesore, either. Clutter overwhelms us and causes feelings of stress and anxiety. It signals to the brain that our work is never done. I don’t know about you, but that’s the last thing I want to be thinking about when we hang out with our kids on our porch.

Your deck is a space for rest and relaxation. With these three organization tips? You’ll never have to worry about clutter again. 

#1. Hide the mess. Secret cubbies are one of the best ways to minimize messes. When furniture shopping, opt for benches and ottomans that open up for storage space. 

#2. Hang it up. Hand-held garden equipment can be stored on a hanging rack. You can also install shelving and baskets to your vinyl siding. But before you grab your power tools and puncture your vinyl, read up on safe ways to attach decor and shelves to your siding. 

#3. Store it in the shed. If the lawn toys are holding your deck hostage, consider building a shed! A designated place for toys and mess keeps clutter off your deck, and tucked away in its place. We recommend a custom built shed over a pre-manufactured one. For the same price, you can design a storage space that fits all your needs. Interested in learning more? We’re happy to answer any questions. 

#3 Use Simple Additions to Increase Space (and Comfort!) 


Here in Pennsylvania, summer days range anywhere from 75-95 degrees. But the NOAA is anticipating record breaking heat waves in 2022 as well as heavy rainfall. 

Some may argue a deck is the worst thing in this heat. But a small deck that’s thoughtfully designed to fit the weather can actually be a great way to comfortably enjoy the view- and not be stuck inside! 

So how do you break the heat and use your outdoor space? Ditch clunky box fans run by extension cords in favor of wall mounted fans, like this one: 

Wall mounted fan

Another way to create a little oasis from the heat of summer? Add shade bushes and hanging plants to your garden store list! In addition to providing shade, hanging plants also add a lush, get-away feel to your little paradise.  

Some of the best plants for this are:

  • Spartan juniper trees- They have a small footprint, and grow up instead of out.
  • Pyracantha- This evergreen shrub creates a wall of privacy. 
  • Clematis- The climbing vine fills in gaps along your railing and have the most gorgeous flowers.

Another great way to beat the heat- opt for composite boards over pressure-treated. These boards are built to resist heat. This is especially important if you have small children around who love to kick off their sandals. 

Last but not least, don’t forget about lighting! Outdoor lighting allows you to enjoy your deck far into the cool of the evening. 

For a small deck, I’d recommend either hanging lights or under rail lights: 

Hanging Lights

Hanging lights create a beautiful ambience and don’t take up extra floor space. When I think late nights spent together on the deck, this is what comes to mind. 

Under rail lights are another great option:

Under rail lighting

Just like hanging lights, under rail lights keep your deck lit in the evening without sacrificing space. Regardless of the style of lighting you chose, make sure to opt for something off the ground. This simple tip minimizes deck clutter and creates a space you’ll enjoy all summer long.

Need help getting electric hookups or outlets installed on your deck or porch? Give our crew a call and we can help! 

#4. Staycation Getaway With Partitions and Pergolas 

We all need a little summer break- but heading out for an island vacation isn’t always in the schedule. Good news: With a few updates? Your small deck can be just the place for peace and privacy.  

Let’s talk about a few ways to create a cozy (and private) deck. 

Wooden partitions are one of my favorite ways to give your deck a peaceful feel. I know this seems like the complete opposite of my advice to choose a low-profile railing, but if you’re looking for seclusion instead of openness? This is the way to go. 

When choosing a wooden partition, you can either match the wood to your deck boards, like this home:

Wooden partition on deck

Or contrast, like on this deck: 

Wooden panel on small deck

Another thing to consider when shopping for wooden partitions: Do you want a permanent or semi-permanent fixture? Most partitions are designed to be folded up when not in use. But some are more fixed- like this one with planters installed at the base: 

Wood privacy screen with planter boxes

My personal recommendation? If you have littles running around, choose a permanent fixture. Most wooden partitions are heavy but they take less force to knock over than you’d think. A fixed partition is the safest route to keeping curious climbers and reckless runners from disaster. 

Curious about designing or installing a deck upgrade like what you see above? We’d love to help. In fact, we have an on-staff complimentary architect who helps us find the best designs- even for small projects like this!

More into a garden paradise design than a wooden partition? Sunflowers are a beautiful and non-permanent way to create a secluded spot:

Sunflower partition

It looks just like a Van Gogh painting! 

Shielding your deck for a summer with sunflowers or ornamental corn grown in pots is also a great way to ‘test out’ if you like the feel before you invest in a permanent build. 

You could also create a green wall using built-in planter boxes and trellises:

Small deck with raised beds

You can opt for perennial climbers, like roses, clematis, or grapes- but you can also have fun growing annual veggies like green beans to shade your deck. 

Looking for something with an elegant feel? Consider installing a pergola! This pergola allows the homeowner to adjust how much sun their seating area gets throughout the day:

Pergola on small deck

Here’s a clean, classic look for a historic home:

All white covered deck

Whether you want to build a new deck or upgrade your existing design, we’d love to help!

#5 How To Decorate A Small Space

When it comes to decorating a small deck, you first have to decide how you want the space to function. Are you designing an outdoor kitchen or a place to sit and congregate with friends? 

How you want to use your deck should inform what goes on it.

Looking for inspiration before you choose a deck purpose? Read through our ten favorite styles of decks here, with suggestions on how to decorate your space. 

There are a few great tips that ring true regardless of your small deck’s function. Dual-purpose furniture is a great way to stylize your space while still conserving space. This fire pit closes up when not in use to serve as a table: 

Multi-purpose furniture

And check out this attached collapsible deck table:

Collapsible deck table

Rugs are another great way to make your deck feel larger than it is. A rug pulls in your attention and distracts from the size of your deck. It also creates a cohesive look: 

Small Deck with Rug

Just make sure you choose an outdoor rug! These rugs are made from durable synthetic materials, and are crafted to protect- not damage- your deck. Indoor rugs can trap water and lead to damage if used on your deck. 

Let’s touch on color, too. Darker colors and neutrals will evoke a cozy feel, like this deck: 

Cozy small deck

Brighter colors draw in more attention. That doesn’t mean you should avoid fun colors- just use them strategically. Where do you want your attention drawn to? These homeowners used yellow couch cushions to draw focus onto the seating area: 

Yellow deck furniture

Your deck is an extension of your home- decorate it to fit your own style and don’t be afraid to experiment!

A Small But Mighty Deck

Ready to create a small but mighty deck to enjoy before summer’s end? We’re here for you!

At Martin, we build decks designed to last. Just like our roofing and siding projects, we only use the best materials in the industry and guarantee you’ll love your deck for decades to come. 

But our support doesn’t stop there. We work with you to utilize the best of your space, regardless of size. 

Ready to start the conversation on your new deck? Bring in your idea books, show-off your Pinterest boards, and give us a call at 570-345-0436 to get on our schedule.