Home & Style

These Houses Have Big Deck Energy

How to turn your outdoor square-footage into a worthy hangout spot.

A Malm fireplace and reclaimed-wood ceiling beams create a vintage feel on this screened porch in Silver Spring. Photograph courtesy of Case Design.

A Groovy Escape in Silver Spring

When Holly Rothrock and Mark Grovic decided to redo the deck of their 1957 split-level house in Silver Spring, they knew exactly where to look for inspiration: their rustic weekend place in Front Royal, on the Shenandoah River. “We love escaping there, but with two busy teenagers, we don’t go as often as we’d like,” says Holly. “We wanted to replicate the lazy, unplugged feel of the river house in our back yard.”

To accomplish that, they hired Case Design. Under the lead of project designers John Audet and Zahra Keihani, the team replaced parts of the old deck, expanding its footprint by more than eight feet. They also created an access point from the family room via large glass doors.

For the porch, Rothrock leaned toward a combination of vintage and modern elements. Locally sourced, hand-hewn reclaimed oak beams lend warmth and texture to the pitched ceiling, and they echo similar beams found in the family’s river house. A freestanding Malm fireplace adds a groovy midcentury vibe—and allows the room to be used comfortably most days of the year. To keep out bugs in the summer, they enclosed the new porch with screens because, as Rothrock says, “it’s mosquito heaven around here.”

Another thing not welcome on the porch is screens of a different kind. “It’s a space away from technology—we don’t even have a TV in there,” says Rothrock. Instead, the family uses the room to entertain and play board games and even live music. “We’ve already hosted a few jam sessions with friends on the back porch and hope to have many more.”

Built for Entertaining in Arlington

Though Alice and Brendan Feeley’s Arlington home was constructed only in 2005, its original wooden deck was already in need of repair when they bought the house in 2012. The project would have to wait, though, while they turned their attention to updating the interior. “We thought we would live with it for a year or two, but that turned into five,” says Alice.

Durable pieces, such as weather-resistant wicker furniture, keep this deck both practical and stylish. Photograph by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.
Durable pieces, such as weather-resistant wicker furniture, keep this deck both practical and stylish. Photograph by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

When they were ready to tackle the project, they hired J. Mark White of the landscaping firm GardenWise. He replaced the old deck with a larger one, plus added a stone patio with a fire pit in the yard below. To furnish the space, Alice called on Suzanne Manlove of Arlington Home Interiors, who had previously revamped two bedrooms and an office for the family. First, Manlove established a neutral palette inspired by the weathered gray of the decking. “Shades of gray work better with today’s contemporary furniture, as opposed to the more orange-toned woods or honey oaks that were popular 20 years ago,” she says.

Because the Feeleys planned to use the deck for al fresco entertaining, separate zones were created for dining and lounging. To withstand the elements, Manlove chose durable materials such as weather-resistant wicker and manmade composite-stone tabletops, but she was careful to not choose pieces that were too similar: “We purchased from a few different furniture lines so the space would look collected over time.”

That eclectic feel extends to the accessories, such as cheery teal and coral throw pillows that liven up the gray-and-beige color scheme. “We wanted the space to feel bright and happy, and it does” says Alice. “It was definitely worth the wait.”

Photograph by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.
Photograph by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

This article appears in the April 2019 issue of Washingtonian.