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Designing deck storage that looks good and keeps you organized

Built mainly for storage—both on the deck and under it—deck boxes are, in essence, storage units for housing anything from cushions and patio seating to toys and tools.

What’s great about these storage units is that they give homeowners the freedom to customize their boxes according to their individual design needs, and they’re usually easy to assemble. Plus, deck boxes can double as seating, take the place of a shed when yard space is at a premium, and they can be designed to be aesthetically pleasing too—always a plus.

Joe Farrell, owner of Joe Farrell Contracting based in Antigonish, NS, has built deck boxes to store everything from garden tools to lawnmowers, and has even designed some that “look like cabinets underneath the deck,” he says.

Farrell’s built storage into bench seating around the perimetre of a deck, designing it so the seats lift up to open the deck box underneath. He’s also custom built units for barbecues, and deacon’s bench-type seats with different compartments. “It’s whatever your imagination can handle,” he says.

Sean Baker, of Sean P. Baker Carpentry Services, also in Antigonish, builds under-the-seat storage boxes as well, and he says they’re a great choice for homeowners who prefer not to have a big storage box right on their deck.

“With kids, there is lots of stuff that gets left on the deck, like soccer balls and toys. This is easy access: you open up the lid and it’s there,” he says.

Storage boxes are also great for housing pool paraphernalia like pool noodles and cleaning supplies. They not only keep the deck tidy, they reduce tripping hazards, and give you a convenient place to batten things down when it’s windy.

Simple deck benches opened to reveal storage space below. Hide unsightly propane tanks in a side table.

Storage underneath

The space underneath decks that are several feet off the ground can also be turned into storage. Homeowners can opt to put up vertical boards and a door, giving them additional room below. “Even for a lawnmower, it doesn’t take a lot to do,” says Baker. Farrell agrees it’s a good option and easy to hide. “If you walked around, you wouldn’t even know it’s there,” he says.

For materials, both Baker and Farrell recommend using pressure-treated lumber and galvanized weather-resistant hardware. As for design advice? They recommend homeowners think about how they want to use their deck box, research designs and talk to their contractor or carpenter for ideas. Baker says people often come to him with ideas they like from something they’ve found on the internet, and will ask him if he can replicate it.

And don’t forget: custom-design deck boxes aren’t limited to new decks only. Homeowners looking to try something a little different can retrofit an existing deck. “They make such nice lumber now,” says Baker. “And if you have lattice work, you can replace it.”

You can even try building a box yourself. Most projects like this now use screws instead of nails in the construction, making it a much easier for the DIYer. “If you make a mistake, you can rejig it, everything can be screwed together,” he says.

Cost, of course, will vary depending on the design, the dimensions and the material needed for the project. Expect a simple deck box to start around $200 to $300 and run up from there. “The sky is the limit,” Farrell says

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