Too often, the access to a deck is a straight stair stuck along one side, looking more like a barrier than an inviting entry, as in the "before" examples shown. In the rebuilt versions, on the other hand, the stairs are reoriented and widened, and the steep ascents are broken into manageable stages. Both projects were designed and built by Quayle & Company Design/Build of Severna Park, Md.

Before

After

The multiple landings and levels of the new deck on the house pictured below create a fluid visual transition from the deck to the house and the landscape. Instead of having to leap up to the deck from the driveway, the eye can now travel the leisurely route of the steps even before the feet walk it, making climbing the stairs more of an amble than simply the means of getting from point A to point B.

In the case of the brown house (above), an imposing ascent was softened with a shallower pitch, a landing, and a 90-degree turn at the bottom that opens up the approach to the deck. By setting the upper flight of stairs and the landing within the deck's footprint, the builder has kept the bottom steps from jutting out like an awkward appendage. Slats of cedar, which was also used for the fascia and trim, dress up the underside of the stairs, further incorporating the stairs into the overall design

Before

After

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