Modern Deck Design Ideas: Clean Lines And Cable Runs

A sophisticated, modern home deserve a deck to match. If you're looking for modern deck design ideas, you've come to the right place. Let's take a look at a sophisticated deck and break it down piece-by-piece to help you get a modern look - and tailor it to your specific home and deck.

A modern deck with cable railing, neutral decking, and a sophisticated low voltage lighting system

The Look: The Clean Lines Of Modern Deck Railing

A modern deck design with tags added to point out the products that created the look

Follow each tag to the numbered headings below to learn more about each piece of this look.

  1. Horizontal Cable Railing
  2. Neutral-Toned Decking
  3. Low Voltage Post Cap Lighting
  4. Recessed Stair Lights
  5. More Style Additions

How To Get This Look

The gorgeous modern vibe of the deck above is built on a couple of key principles. The first is an emphasis on long clean lines with an open horizontal cable railing system.

Closely related to that is a mix of industrial colors, from the crisp stainless steel of the cable runs to the textured black metal railing to the very neutral-toned decking. The modern look is put into the spotlight - no pun intended - by a thoughtful deck lighting design that's beautifully spaced to accent the space without overpowering it.

Let's take a look at some of the elements that work in this deck and explain how you can mirror them in your own deck space while adding personalized twists.

Key-Link Cable Railing

A long section of cable railing with clean horizontal lines

Cable railing is an amazing choice for any modern deck. Stainless steel cable runs are industrial but extremely subtle.

In fact, cable railings are specifically designed to disappear into your deck's view. You can see above how the cables start to blend into the natural setting beyond as they get further away from your eye. That's because the cables are twisted and polished so that they absorb the light, rather than reflecting it like some harsh metal surfaces.

Cable railing running down the short stairs exiting a modern deck

This particular deck uses Key-Link Horizontal Cable Railing, which is an especially great choice for a few reasons. Key-Link's system doesn't require a bottom rail, which opens up the space even more than other cable railings.

Key-Link's textured black powder-coating gives the posts and rails just enough shine without looking glossy and outdated. Plus, Key-Link cable railing has a beautifully-crafted top rail that adds a few more clean horizontal lines to the look already created by the lengthy cable runs.

The industrial look of stainless steel cable railing with no bottom rail
Shop Key-Link Cable Railing

Neutral-Toned Deck Boards

Key-Link Horizontal Cable Railing running down stairs to another deck level

This deck balances the sleek black of the railing system with a lighter-toned deck board choice. While a dark, rich brown can look very modern on its own, it's important to think about the deck as a whole. .

Too many dark tones can make a space feel cold and impersonal. If your home has a lot of lighter trim, or if you'll be using lighter-toned decorations, you can choose a darker deck board. But as this deck shows, picking a light, neutral color deck board immediately brightens up a space without taking anything away from the modern sophistication of hte railing.

TimberTech's Weathered Teak decking is a brilliant and versatile choice that fits a range of styles. Pair it with black railing for the look of a modern wood deck - but as TimberTech's Weathered Teak boards are made from high-quality PVC, you won't ever need to stain your deck or replace rotting or splintering boards.

TimberTech AZEK's Weathered Teak decking

Depending on the colors present in your home and yard, you might want a slightly darker tone. In that case, we'd recommend Trex's Havana Gold. The color mix of the board includes prominent streaks of dark brown and black, which pairs beautifully with a black metal deck railing.

Trex Transcend's Havana Gold decking
Shop Brown Decking

Brown isn't the only option, either. Gray deck boards are very on-trend, and will help your cables blend in even better from all angles. (Gray also looks great with glass railings, another distinctly modern option).

We love TimberTech's Ashwood color, a multi-tonal gray deck board with an incredible range of colors from gray to black to a dark blue, all blended into each board:

TimberTech PRO's Ashwood decking
Shop Gray Decking

Lighted Post Caps

The soft glow of post caps around the perimeter of a sophisticated, modern deck

The lighting setup is what really makes this deck sing. Using lighted post caps along the railing gives the space a nice well-lit perimeter and a sense of boundary between the bright deck and the dusky yard.

Because the railing sections are so long and expansive, the lighting is tastefully spaced and doesn't overwhelm the deck with harsh light. The illumination is warm and inviting, creating playful shadows with the patio furniture from all angles.

A close-up of a Key-Link lighted post cap as part of a gorgeous lighting setup

Post cap lights install easily onto Key-Link Cable Railing - they fit directly on top of deck posts and screw into the post easily.

Fortunately, wiring low voltage outdoor lighting is easy. You don't need to be a professional electrician to do it yourself. Typically, a low voltage transformer plugs into a regular wall outlet, converting your home's electricity into a lower voltage that you can safely wire around your deck, running the wires inside your deck railing.

A lighted post cap installed onto Key-Link cable railing
Shop Key-Link Lighted Post Caps Shop All Lighted Post Caps

Recessed Stair Lights

The lighting continues with recessed stair lights. Practically invisible during the day, stair lights become a brilliant accent piece at night, while also illuminating walkways to keep guests safe.

Recessed stair lights shine brightly onto a set of deck stairs

Stair lights also typically run off of low voltage wiring. Installing them is as easy as cutting the right-sized hole, plugging in the light and fitting it snugly into space.

A recessed deck light with an easy plug and play wire
Shop Stair Lighting

Extra Additions

A stunningly modern covered deck, complete with wood-paneled ceiling and a fireplace

While we've touched on the basic elements of a deck (decking, railing, lighting), there are plenty of other additions you can make to accent your deck's modern flair. We'll run through a few options to emulate the look above.

Soffit Lighting

If your deck has a roof or overhang, or if you're beautifying the space underneath your deck. Soffit lighting is a great choice. Like the recessed stair lights, a soffit light sits flush in your ceiling or underdeck ceiling, casting warm light downwards to spotlight your space.

A soffit light from Trex RainEscape
Shop Soffit Lighting

Columns Or Column Wraps

The space above accents black railing with sleek black columns supporting the roof. If you're looking for a modern touch for your porch, try a load-bearing column or a column wrap. The AFCO Column below comes in a stylish black, and is made of aluminum so strong it can support the weight of your roof overhang:

A sleek black AFCO load-bearing porch column
Shop Columns & Wraps

A Modern Steel Pergola

If your space isn't covered, you can get the same look by installing a Fortress Evolution Steel Pergola. The smooth black finish of the steel beams is incredibly modern, and it'll also last for years with very little maintenance.

You can dress up your pergola with wood slats or deck boards, as seen below:

A modern Fortress Steel Pergola with wood slats attached
Shop Steel Pergolas

Stone Looks

You can create visual intrigue in your modern deck by mixing up textures. Using stone looks alongside your polished metal railings, columns, or pergolas is a great way to do it.

Stone-look column wraps instantly give your space texture and personality - and they look especially great with lighting that plays on the uneven faux-stone texture.

A post wrap that looks like real stone
Shop Faux Stone Wraps

Directional Deck Lighting

Create that lighting spectacle with fixtures that cast light in specific directions. The deck below uses Peak To Peak rail lights that illuminate both upwards and downwards:

A porch lit up by Peak to Peak deck lighting

The fixtures are easy to install and wire - you can see what a pre-installed fixture looks like here:

Directional deck lighting that shines upwards and downwards
Shop Peak To Peak Lighting

Inspired? See More Modern Deck Ideas

Browse Cable Railing Photo Gallery

Browse Decking Photo Gallery

Browse Deck Lighting Photo Gallery


Learn more about the basics of deck framing and building in our Deck Framing Guide and learn deck parts and terminology in the DecksDirect Glossary of Deck Terms and Lingo.

Browse more deck design and railing style notes to upgrade your backyard space and deck in the DecksDirect Railing Style Guide: the quickest way to learn if your home is more suited for a classic aluminum deck railing or a showstopping cable rail setup.

The more you know, the better your deck and backyard projects will be! Whether you're looking at a brand new project, a deck update, or a style refresh, give our deck project planners a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an email at hello@decksdirect.com. Our experienced team will help you get the information, products, and tools you need for an awesome deck completely personalized to your needs!