A well-designed deck can unify otherwise disparate outdoor structures. Originally, the owners of this lake house in Norcross, Georgia, had two such features. One sat awkwardly in the middle of the backyard: a combination fish pond and planter and an elevated gazebo perched on top of a shed that was reachable only via a flight of stairs. "The two elements weren't working with each other, nor were they tied to the rest of the yard," says designer and builder Dave Tibbetts.
His solution: link them with a pressure-treated Southern yellow pine deck that gently eases guests around the planter and up to the gazebo with a minimum of steps. By rimming the planter with matching pine planks finished with an amber-colored tinted sealer, he also added attractive built-in seating. Further unifying the look, the fascia boards skirting the planter, the stair risers, and the deck posts were painted white to match the new wood railing, which is topped with the sealed pine.