All Decked Out

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Custom Decks

A Corona del Mar designer creates custom decks for local customers.- By Somer Flaherty

“I got into this career by accident,” says Claudia Schmutzler of Windsor Deck and Gardens, a custom deck company in Corona del Mar. It happened nearly 20 years ago when she was hosting a party at her former home in Huntington Beach.

“It was a little ratty house with a scary backyard. I built a deck and also added a nice patio. I had friends over one day, and [someone] took a picture of my deck and said they were going to send it to Sunset Magazine. I thought, ‘no way, this isn’t going to be published,’ but I actually got a phone call from the magazine, and my deck ended up getting featured.”

After the story was published, the writer told Claudia that the magazine was receiving numerous calls from readers wanting a deck like hers on their own property. “I told her I wasn’t in the deck business and she said, ‘well you should be.’ ”

Years later, Claudia began building decks for friends and neighbors until more and more people were asking for her design help. “It just snowballed and one day I said, ‘I think I’m in the deck business now.’ ”

Claudia encourages her clients to customize their outdoor experience by what they put on their deck. Adding a hot tub is one addition she recommends. “That 1970s redwood round hot tub is coming back—but remember, when you incorporate a hot tub in your deck, you typically build the hot tub first and then deck around it.” Another way to enhance your outside living space is with an outdoor kitchen. “I’m a huge cook, so I did an outdoor barbecue that I built custom with a Viking range.” If you aren’t a cook, she says, then add landscaping; there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting on a deck that is partially shaded by a tree. “And don’t be afraid to have fun with furniture,” Claudia adds. The designer’s own deck will have a fresh new direction soon. “I plan to paint the floorboards a fireball orange to play off the cedar shingles and white trim. That is the beauty of working with natural redwood; you have the luxury of completely changing your look and not being forever locked into the same surface color.”

Considering a deck addition? Check out Claudia’s tips for success:

1. Optimize the space. We spend so much money for every inch of land here, so I really encourage people to take a hard look at their property and plan the space creating the deck.

2. Choose the right materials. I steer clients toward natural wood decks (as opposed to composite) for many reasons, one being that natural wood can be stained and painted—you can change colors as often as you like and you aren’t locked in to one design choice.

3. Add a railing. Even if you’re decking up against a fence, adding a railing is like putting a frame around a painting.

4. Maintain your deck. If a wooden deck scratches, stains or weathers, you can sand it down, and then, once a year, recondition it by staining or oiling it yourself.

Get Inspired

Select a dashing style for your deck.- By Somer Flaherty

If you’re lucky enough to have the space for a deck,
it should never be an afterthought, relegated to hold a few potted plants. Bring that same design sense you used in your interior space into the sunshine, and create a chic and functional outdoor escape.NBM

The Capri Collection,
available at Restoration
Hardware (401 Newport Center Dr., Ste. 201A; 949-760-9232;

Outdoor coffee table
by Jonathan Charles,
available at De Benedictis
(Laguna Design Center, 23811 Aliso Creek Rd., Ste. 168,
Laguna Niguel; 949-831-9411;

Reclaimed wood outdoor table, available at Arenbeology (3303 Harbor Blvd., Unit K4, Costa Mesa;

Custom barbecue island, available at the BBQ Grill Outlet, South Coast Metro (714-540-1594;

Fontana Gusto Wood-Fired Outdoor Oven, available at Williams-Sonoma (8032 E. Coast Hwy.; 949-464-2168;


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