Seattle Culture

This Queen Anne Dream Deck is an Intimate Backyard Sanctuary

When their old deck had to go, this Seattle family went bigger and better.

By Nia Martin December 1, 2017


This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Once Amy and David Owens completed a remodel of their kitchen, they realized the small, adjoining deck of their Dutch Colonial–style house would have to go. Out of step with the changes to their home, the deck, disjointed and too small for a table, stepped down to shrubs, which then led down to a driveway.   

They called on Mark Garff of SCJ Studio Landscape Architecture (Ballard, 1148 NW Leary Way; 206.708.1862) to design and build a larger outdoor living area that would extend across the yard, leveling out the elevation as much as possible. To stay within the city’s restrictions, the deck area had to be lower than its 8-foot starting point to meet seismic standards. To accommodate these requirements, Garff designed a deck with two subtle levels and a supporting structure that’s heavily secured to the home itself.

Logistics aside, the Owens’ had specific requests for their dream deck. Their wish list included an open space where their son could play, a seating area with a fire pit for entertaining and the presence of nature. “We loved the garden patio we used to have and didn’t want to give up the natural, garden feel of our backyard,” says David Owens. Large planters offered a solution and, according to Garff, were designed to create more intimacy. Plants and trees such as Japanese maples, sedum and ornamental grasses separate the outdoor breakfast nook from the grilling area and fireside benches. 

An additional visual element is the color gray presented in two tones: The vertical surfaces are a darker shade than the horizontal, creating dimension over the expansive surface area. The overall effect of the space is dynamic yet welcoming. The family has enjoyed the deck over the summer, and hopes the fire pit will help the area to become an all-season gathering place. It’s a spot where they can spend time together, and, as Amy Owens comments, it’s “a cozy space for conversations.” 


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