A Deck for all Ages

The Boat House — named in reference to the East Coast influence behind its design — features a super-sized deck that establishes the back yard as the home’s entertainment centerpiece. One look at the three-story gazebo, swim-up bar, two-story spiral staircase and double-decker balconies and guests might think they’re on the set of a hip-hop music video.

Built in six months for a Parade of Homes event, this house just outside Denver features elements such as a theater with an open floor plan, a boat-shaped bar, a three-car garage with storage space below, and stackable washers and dryers in each bedroom. The home follows the open floor plan concept to create a casual, comfortable feel.

But the star attraction is the north side back yard, which in Denver still receives plenty of sun. The decision to make the deck and pool space the home’s centerpiece was made early in the design phase to take advantage of lakefront views, rare in the Denver area.

Balconies extend far enough from the house to create the feeling of hovering over water when standing on them, says Kevin Albright, managing partner, Hollyberry Homes in Denver. “The deck is out of the ordinary. The concept was to do something new, different, that has not been done before.”

Supporting Structure

It takes plenty of strength to support the elaborate deck network, which is why 8x8 steel columns form its infrastructure. The steel is covered with wood and manufactured decking, says Hollyberry’s architect, Craig Gates. “A steel structure is standard for a deck that size. Much of the deck could have been done out of wood, but because the gazebo is so tall and slender and it sits in the middle of a swimming pool, we went to steel. And we did it all in steel to be consistent,” he adds.

The decking material is Latitudes Equator slated gray composite deck board from Universal Forest Products, covering roughly 650 sq. ft. of surface, to the delight of Gates. “The beauty of this material is there are no nail holes. It’s a really good system, and brilliant the way it was done. They have a plastic biscuit that is screwed to the joist and the decking is grooved on the side. That fits into the biscuit. It allows the decking to expand and contract, and again, you see no fasteners at all,” Gates says, referring to UFP’s Equator hidden fastener system.

Despite the ease of working with the decking material, plenty of challenges remained. Perhaps the most far-reaching challenge was the limited lot space in which to work. Homes were being built on both sides of the lot during this home’s construction, forcing much of the deck system to be built in the front yard and craned over the house to the back, Albright says.

Plenty of Features

As one might expect from an entertainment area, the deck on the Boat House is packed with interesting features. For starters, it is accessible from every level in the home, and from every room on the rear side. All the balconies outside each rear-facing room but one are connected to each other and the gazebo with a series of decks and bridges. Each level of the deck structure is connected externally via a three-story spiral staircase. Under each deck surface is a water collection system that channels rain water or spills away from those below.

On the second level of the gazebo is the outdoor kitchen that includes a cooking surface, refrigerator and running water. At the bottom of the tower is a swim-up bar with built-in stools in the pool. The top level is an extension of the master bedroom which includes a fireplace, hot tub, speakers and TV where the owners can enjoy a sunset or watch boaters on the lake. “It’s designed to give you a feeling of being on the Eastern Seaboard or on a cruise ship,” Albright says.

“The pool is set up for volleyball, and it also has a lazy river so people can float around the gazebo if they want to. We just aimed all the jets in the same direction and it creates a current around the tower,” Gates says.

As people float around the gazebo and under the lower bridge, they are drenched by a waterfall. Beyond the rear of the pool sits a pond, supplied by the pool’s return water, that appears to flow into it. “Visually it makes people think the pond is flowing into the pool,” he adds.