Whether it's GQ or Vogue magazine, the message is almost always the same: Accessories make the look. That's also a good way to see how decks, fencing, and railings function on a multifamily building. They're the accessories, the little extras that can take a project from good to great.

That's especially true with infill properties which, by necessity, must blend in with their surroundings. "Boston has a lot of historical neighborhoods where fences have been traditionally used to define public and private spaces," says Ed Hodges, a principal with the Boston architecture firm of DeMella Shaffer. "Repeating those similar kinds of elements can do the same thing in establishing the public and private space for a multifamily building." Porch materials often play a similar role, says Hodges. Sunrise Arlington, an assisted-living project that his firm designed in Arlington, Mass., uses covered porches with traditional detailing to give the building a residential feel that's consistent with its Victorian-era neighbors.

DO NOT DISTURB: From a front-runner in composite decking, Trex, comes Seclusions, a new line of privacy fencing. It resists moisture, insects, and sunlight, and comes in four colors with natural wood-like appearance: Saddle, Winchester Grey, Madeira, and Woodland Brown. The line comes with a 25-year warranty and promises not to buckle, warp, or wear over time. Decks, fences, and railings can also boost a modern building's contemporary focus. At Garden Crossing, a 55-unit for-sale project in Boulder, Colo., cantilevered steel awnings and grid deck railings combine to give the attached townhomes an edgy, vibrant feel. "Decks and balconies shouldn't just be appendages," says Rick New, director of residential architecture at Boulder's DTJ Design and the principal architect for Garden Crossing. "They've got to be extensions of the home and should reflect materials found on the home. At Garden Crossing, the decks and balconies were purposely done as a way to enhance the architecture and the sense of geometry of the project. In many cases, they were suspended by cables or tie rods, which gave them a real contemporary edge."

For more information, call 800-289-8739 or visit www.trex.com.

–Kathleen Stanley is a freelance writer in Washington.