Andrew Henley/Hen-House Decks

You’ll probably recognize this guitar – it’s a depiction of Fender's famous Stratocaster, executed in both the shape of the deck and the layout of the multi-colored Trex decking. The design for this lakeside deck remodel - drawn by architect John Patrick Picard - was inspired by the owner’s love of rock-n-roll music and by one of his favorite guitars … a Stratocaster, of course. In the spirit of "Duck" architecture, our goal was to highlight as many of the details on his guitar as possible, including the distinctive shape of its body, the neck, frets, and strings, the pickups, and even the change of colors in the body.

Of course, our main objective on any deck project is to build a safe and comfortable space for the owner to relax and entertain friends and family. But with the guitar deck, creating an artful conversation piece that highlighted the owner's interests became the true driving force behind the partnership that developed between the architect, my lead carpenter Ken Baldwin and the rest of the crew, and myself.

Foundation and FramingThere was an existing elevated deck, and we were able to reuse the three steel columns that had been supporting it, as well as a stainless steel spiral staircase that provided outside access to the deck. After dismantling the old decking and framing apart and carefully setting the staircase aside, we removed enough of the stone pavers from the patio below the deck to dig a pair of holes for two new footings. After digging down below frost line (48 inches in my area), we placed a pair of 24-inch diameter tube forms in the ground and filled them with concrete. After the concrete cured, we anchored 4-inch diameter steel columns to the footings, welded custom-fabricated brackets to the tops of the columns to match the existing supports, and began framing.

Andrew Henley/Hen-House Decks The original deck was supported by steel columns and featured a nice stainless steel spiral staircase and custom-fabricated handrails, which were saved and repurposed on the new deck.
Andrew Henley/Hen-House Decks After installing a pair of new steel columns, workers began framing the new deck with pressure-treated glulam beams.

Because of the relatively long spans between columns, we chose to support the joists with pressure-treated glulams, rather than sawn built-up beams. At the house, the glulams connect to the house framing at the same locations as the original deck framing, through beam pockets in the stone veneer cladding. Essentially, the frame is freestanding, except at those two connection points.

To accommodate the irregular shape of the guitar, we dropped the glulams on the expanded part of the deck. This way we could cantilever the joists and install blocking as needed to conform to the body of the Strat. Since the decking would be laid out to supply the details of the guitar, we had to follow a pretty intricate blocking detail, as well as install more as needed in the field as we installed the decking.

Andrew Henley/Hen-House Decks Custom-fabricated brackets were welded to the steel columns to support dropped beams. Cantilevered joists were then installed to create the shape of the guitar body.
Andrew Henley/Hen-House Decks Extensive blocking was also needed to execute the elaborate inlay required to create the guitar design.

We used Trex Earth Tones decking in four different colors to create the design. The body is made up of Vintage Lantern and Rope Swing, while we used Tree House to create the neck and pickups, and Gravel Path for the rest of the lakeside deck.

Four different shades of Trex decking were used to create the design.
Andrew Henley/Hen-House Decks Four different shades of Trex decking were used to create the design.

In addition to the spiral stairs and the columns, we tried to reuse as many of the original deck’s other components as possible to keep the aesthetics already established by the house. For example, we re-installed the spiral stairs in the same location in order to avoid costly changes to the patio below. We also re-used the existing custom-fabricated railing, adding new sections as needed to enclose the expanded deck. We also refinished the stairs and all of the existing and new railing components to match.


Andrew Henley/Hen-House Decks Recessed lights were installed in the decking around the deck's perimeter and in the fret board.
Andrew Henley Up-lights and down-lights placed at the deck/house intersection highlights the home's architecture and stone veneer cladding and helps obscure views into the interior of the house from the lake after dark.

There are three types of lighting used in the design of the deck: up-lighting, down-lighting, and round lights recessed into the deck boards. The up-lighting is placed in the deck boards at the connection of the house and deck, pointed upward toward the large windows. The goal for the light is to wash the exterior of the house with light, highlighting the home, but also limiting the amount of the interior that can be seen at night from the lake. We used this same technique on the underside of the deck, with down-lighting pointed at the stone wall, windows, and door beneath the deck.

We used round recessed lighting fixtures to outline the edge of the deck, as well as to add the detail of the dot inlays on the neck of the guitar.

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