If you have a backyard deck that you don’t always enjoy, you might need to think of how to make it more appealing and inviting. Simply adding some wood planks and stairs behind your house isn’t always going to be enough for you to actually enjoy that space, whereas a few simple touches can create an area your whole family will love. Note a few of those simple touches here.

1. Add shade

How much shade do you get from the hot sun? If you didn’t think about adding something over the deck itself when you had it constructed, it’s time to think about shade sails. These are pieces of canvas attached to poles that you can adjust by pulling on cords, just like real boat sails. They have a great outdoorsy look and go with any style of home and, because you can adjust them with their cords, are very versatile.

2. Upgrade your cooking and food storage

If you don’t like to go out to your deck because it’s a hassle to bring your meals with you or get up every time you want a fresh drink, you can upgrade your cooking and food storage capacities on your deck. You can create a built-in cooler that holds ice and beverages and a built-in cook top that works with propane. These can be covered with a wood front that matches the wood of your deck so they’re not very conspicuous. This can keep you comfortable when outside and allow you to use the deck for actual cooking and not just relaxing.

3. Paint the surface

Even a lighter color of wood may mean a surface that is very hot during those long summer days, and this can make the deck uncomfortable for you. Painting the surface can not only add some color but it can also keep the deck material from holding heat. Choose a paint meant for outdoor decks and opt for a white or eggshell or even a light grey shade so that the deck doesn’t feel uncomfortably warm under your feet.

4. Add sound insulation

If you don’t like hearing your neighbors when you’re outside or worry that they can hear you, add glass panels to one or both sides of the deck for sound insulation. Thick, outdoor curtains can also absorb sound. You can even add a lattice wall to one side of the deck and hang plants or put tall trees on one or both sides, and this will cut down on sound traveling between your properties.