An outdoor living space that has it all

When it comes to creating a custom patio or deck design, we at Archadeck like to have a clear understanding of how you intend to use the space. Do you need space for cooking? Dining? Relaxing? Homeowners who may not know the type of structure they want still have an idea of how they’d like to use the space. From there, our trained designers can map out a space that is perfect for them.

When I saw this project from our Archadeck of Central Maryland office, I knew I had to share it. It has a ton of living space without being too overwhelming.

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The owners of this property like to spend as much time as possible outside when the weather permits. By designing a multi-level space, John Barrett of Archadeck was able to create clearly defined areas for the owners, each one just as beautiful as the next.

At the lowest level (to the right on picture) is a large paver patio. It’s an open area that provides easy access to the yard below. A custom outdoor kitchen was constructed closer to the home’s back door so the chef can easily go to and from the kitchen. John and his team recommended a light stone paver with subtle grey variations since the home is brick. Brick would have been too overwhelming throughout the space.

Up a few steps is a small deck area with two lounge chairs. The homeowners enjoy laying out in the sun from time to time, and this spot is the perfect transitional area. The octagonal shape keeps it fun and interesting and because it has steps on all sides a railing isn’t necessary by law. Railings are incredibly important for safety purposes, but can make structures look closed off. Without railings, this deck is way more open to the rest of the yard.

Just one step up is a dining and entertaining area. The deck is just a few steps away from the outdoor and indoor kitchens, making it easy to serve dinner outside. Again, John and the homeowners didn’t want to block off the space with railings. Instead, a built in bench and planter were used. They not only look great, but the bench provides plenty of additional seating for friends and family.

The last level of the space is an open porch that works as an outdoor living room. Guests can escape the sun and cozy up underneath the roof structure.

If you have questions on designing outdoor living spaces to fit your needs, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Keep it Outdoors this Summer

Spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we are passionate about enhancing our clients’ outdoor living spaces with our designs and builds. Our hope is that after our work is done that our clients spend more time outside.

When we talk to our clients about getting the most use out of their decks, porches, patios and other outdoor spaces, there are certain things we like to discuss and implement:

composite-deckPlaces to gather. When it comes to entertaining friends and family outdoors, a clear area to gather and relax encourages people to spend time outside. This should be discussed during the patio or deck design phase, but can easily be created in existing spaces. Strategically placed patio furniture or built-in seating is a clear way to invite guests into a specific area of your outdoor spaces. You can take it one step further with both living and dining outdoor furniture in different areas of the space.

An area for cooking. The more you can stay outdoors will keep your guests outside too. An area for cooking will keep you and your guests outside on a nice day/night. While a grill is a great place to cook, an outdoor kitchen will allow you to do more than just the cooking. With counter space, you can prepare, cook and serve your delicious cuisine. At Archadeck, we design custom outdoor kitchens that complement your overall outdoor living design perfectly.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyA fire feature. Personally, I don’t like to be forced inside on a lovely night just because the sun goes down and it gets a little cool. That is just one of the reasons that fire features have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Both fire pits and outdoor fireplaces emit enough heat to keep you outside on a nice night, and who doesn’t love to huddle around a fire, not to mention the s’mores?

If you have questions on how to get more out of your outdoor living spaces, please contact your Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Updating Your Existing Outdoor Living Space

It’s spring which means it is time to move it outdoors and enjoy the nice weather. Creating beautiful outdoor living spaces that you want to spend time in is one way to ensure that you aren’t cooped up inside all the time. If your existing deck or patio isn’t as inviting as it should be, it doesn’t mean you need to completely replace it. Instead, look for ways to update and enhance it. Here are some ideas from the outdoor living experts at Archadeck.

composite-deckSeating/furniture options. In one of my first homes, I had a great little patio, but I barely used it. While I had furniture outside, it wasn’t comfortable furniture that I wanted to spend a lot of time on. Looking back, had I updated my seating options, I would have spent more time outdoors. If you aren’t sure of spacing, have a deck and patio builder visit your property and discuss built-in seating with benches or retaining walls. This is a great way to increase the amount of seating you have.

Sierra ExifShade. Having shaded areas in your outdoor living areas creates a space for you and guests to escape the hot sun if needed. Shade options are varied and include awnings, arbors, trellises and pergolas, all of which can be installed on an existing space. Pergolas are one of the most popular shade options. The size, shape and design and can be tailored for you, your tastes and your budget.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyColor. Color adds life into any living area whether indoors or outdoors. Take a look at this deck, doesn’t its colors make you want to spend time on it? Colors can be added in a lot of ways. If you have existing furniture, consider purchasing some new decorative outdoor pillows to liven up the space. Or, add an outdoor rug, not only will it add color, but it will also help define your space. Adding planters with flowers and greenery to a deck or patio is also a great way to add some color, and they’re easy to change every season!

L-8312 copyOutdoor Lighting. Eventually your outdoor living spaces will get too dark for you to enjoy them when the sun goes down, unless you have outdoor lighting. Many of our Archadeck Outdoor Living locations install deck lights on their projects to make sure it can be enjoyed all day and night. Lighting will keep you outside and provide sure-footing as you move around your outdoor living space. If you are in need a more extensive lighting system, take a look at our sister company, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

As always, Archadeck Outdoor Living is here to help you enhance your outdoor living spaces. Please reach out to any of our locations to learn more.

Backyard Contest Update: Fire pits and building

It’s been a few weeks and it is time for an update on our Archadeck Dream Backyard Contest winners! Last we checked in with Rick and Merea Bentrott they had finalized their deck and patio design and were ready to start building. Harold Cross and the rest of the Archadeck of Central Iowa have been hard at work on the space!

Before we get to the building update, there was one last tweak to the design. In the last update the design looked like this:

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And now, it looks like this:

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The Bentrotts decided to enhance the patio portion of the space and add a fire pit and a seating wall. Extending the patio provides for more entertaining space and the kids (they have four) are sure to enjoy roasting some s’mores around the fire pit.

Much like the benches on the deck, we are providing built in seating on the Belgard patio. Retaining walls, when built with the correct height in mind, not only provide the perfect place to sit, but also another way to define the space and create the flow.

With the design plan in place, Harold and his team were set to break ground and start constructing the Bentrotts’ Dream Backyard. Videos of the build throughout the process can be seen on Archadeck of Central Iowa’s YouTube channel.

After six days of finished work, a lot of construction has been done. Demolishing the existing deck and leveling the area for the structure were the first tasks. On day two on site, a lot of dirt needed to be dug out for both the base of the patio and all of footings on the space. The footings are essential to the safety of the structure and were needed for the deck and covered porch.

IMG_7848Unfortunately, there are some things we cannot control, like the weather. A few days of rain delayed us, but we are back on track! The deck framing is finished and the boards have been installs. The decking was provided by our contest sponsor, TimberTech. The color of the boards is Brownstone and they were laid in a diagonal patterns instead of the classic straight version.

The frame and roof of the covered patio have been installed. Underneath and beside the covered area is the patio itself which will be done using Belgard Pavers. What goes beneath the pavers, called base, is incredibly important with respect to the integrity of the structure. Without a good base, the homeowner may notice some uneven areas over time. A base layer of rock has been spread over any area where pavers will ultimately be.

We can’t wait to see the final product and how the Bentrotts will enjoy their new backyard space. In the meantime, if you have questions concerning any outdoor structure, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Firepits and Outdoor Fireplaces Most In Demand Outdoor Living Feature

Posted by: janegwalker

In the last few years, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of projects that are including an outdoor fire feature, whether it is a firepit of fireplace. It’s not surprising when you look at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) Survey of the top Outdoor Living Features for 2013, firepits and fireplaces is at the top.

According to the ASLA, more U.S. homeowners are enhancing the outdoor areas around their home for added entertainment space. Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of the ASLA explains, “in this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards. They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.” Source.

As people look to improve their outdoor living spaces, it doesn’t surprise us that firepits and fireplaces are at the top of the list of trends. Fire features are a great way to make a space feel more intimate and cozy.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyAt Archadeck, we see an uptick in interest in firepits and outdoor fireplaces in the fall when the weather begins to cool down. Personally, I love gathering around a fire on a cool fall or winter night with friends and family.

Outdoor fireplaces and firepits are great add-ons to existing structures that will extend the amount of time you can use your decks, patios, sunrooms and other outdoor areas. You may be forced inside as it cools off in September for instance, but with a fire feature, you can enjoy it into November possibly.  At Archadeck, we custom design outdoor fireplaces and firepits to fit the spaces they are incorporated in. We’ll talk to our clients about how often it will be used, if it should be gas or wood burning and other aspects they may want to include.

The other outdoor trends mentioned on the ASLA survey align pretty closely with what our clients are asking us about. Here are the rest of the top 5:

2, Grills – Outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity and in most cases the grill is the focal point (you need somewhere to do the cooking, right?). Grills can be as simple or as complex as the client wants. Personally, I just need to know it can cook a mean burger.

deck-design-ideas3, Seating and Dining Areas – Outdoor living is truly about that, living. A deck or patio without a way to enjoy it is just a structure. The key to making sure that the space is as usable as possible is the design. Talk to your deck builder about how you intend to use the space so the size, shape and flow allow you to have the space you’ve always wanted.

4, Lighting – Gone are the days of floodlights attached to the side of the house. In are the days of beautiful outdoor lighting that accentuates the space entirely. Lighting will also allow you to spend more time outdoors and will illuminate traffic paths for safety and security.

5, Installed Seating – Installed seating can take the appearance of benches, seat walls, ledges, steps, etc. This plays into the seating and dining areas at number three. It is sometimes easier and better to create seating that is installed in some areas as opposed to pieces of furniture.

If you have questions on outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck and Patio Design Coming Together in Richmond, VA

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a long time since we updated you on the outdoor living structure that we designed and are building for our corporate office and we are happy to say that it is 99% finished. The remaining items on the list are primarily clean up. So what’s been going on since we last updated you? In short, a lot.

To recap, this is the boring side yard that we had at our office:

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And this is what we have now:

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It is quite the difference, right? In our last post about the project, we had just finished framing the deck and started laying the deck boards. As you can see, that and more has been completed.

TimberTech-benchThe majority of the deck is a dark brown TimberTech composite material. It was installed at an angle for added visual interest with highlight boards that are a brick red color (I apologize for the shadows in the pictures). The composite material will minimize our need for regular maintenance. Pressure-treated wood, as opposed to composite, needs to be pressure washed and stained to ensure that water, dirt and other debris don’t settle in the wood cracks and cause splitting.

As you can see in the picture, the built-in benches have been added to the space. One of our goals in creating this outdoor living space at the office was to have a space that everyone in building would really use (not just look at). Seating is extremely important for regular use and with a commercial space that does get some traffic, the seating couldn’t be movable. While the retaining walls offer some seating, benches were added throughout the space to invite people to relax and take a seat.

With such a large amount of dark decking, our deck designers decided to complement the structure with white highlights in the form of railings and the pergola. Timbertech vinyl railing was installed around the open edges of the deck for safety purposes. Any deck that isn’t low to grade, meaning that it rises at least 36 inches off the ground, must have a railing by code. Once the railing was up, everyone here started to see the whole the project come together. The crisp white makes it really pop.

When the Archadeck Outdoor Living team discussed what they wanted in the space, a shade structure was a key component. The pergola was added to the design and covers nearly half of the 900 square foot deck. In a space that gets a lot of sunlight, the pergola offers a reprieve.

While the building part of the space is pretty much finished, there are a few finishing details that are still to come. Outdoor lighting is going to be installed for safety and security (as well as beauty). Besides that, we just need to get rid of any construction debris and we are ready to host our first barbecue at the office.

If you have questions on how you can enhance your backyard with a custom outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers will work with you to create something that works for you, your family, your needs and your budget.

Deck and Patio Design that Gives You All You Need

Posted by: janegwalker

One of my pet peeves is wasted space. When my husband and I were looking at new homes, it was something that always jumped out at me. Getting the most out of a space is important to me; it has to have purpose. And that goes for outdoor living spaces as well. A lot of our Archadeck clients use their outdoor living spaces for multiple purposes which makes the patio or deck design all the more important. The flow of traffic and areas for different purposes have to be considered so that the homeowner gets exactly what they want, without wasted space!

deck-builder-BostonThis recent project from our deck builder in Boston really stood out to me because it is multi-purpose and laid out beautifully. The homeowners wanted an outdoor living structure that could be used a lot of ways, but they didn’t want it to feel completely disjointed. They love to be outside and wanted areas for sitting and relaxing, dining, a place for their hot tub, a shaded area and a fire pit for the cooler fall nights.

deck-design-ideasJim Finlay from Archadeck of Suburban Boston was put to task to create a space that could fit all of these needs, and personally, I’d be thrilled to have a space like this. Because the main level of the house is two stories up in the back, it was clear that an elevated deck would be a large component of the space. The deck is used for seating and for dining. Having the dining area on the deck was a logical decision due to its proximity to the kitchen. To define the space, Jim designed a portion of the deck that is multi-sided and the decking boards were installed in a different direction. Small stone columns were added to the entryway of the space adding more definition.

composite-deckThe deck also acts as a sitting area. This section has a three-sided built in bench that provides adequate seating for multiple guests. As you can see in the picture, additional seating was placed around the bench to make it even more conducive to conversation.

Off the side of a deck is a staircase leading down to the other parts of the space. Because the hot tub is the only space they would like a little more seclusion (without being completely cut off from the deck and patio) that space was kept to the right of the stairs. To the left is a large partially-covered patio.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyThe patio was a perfect spot for both the fire pit and shade. Classic pavers were used for the patio. The fire pit section jets out past the deck and into the yard so that people on the deck can still see and speak with visitors below. One of my favorite details is the stone surrounding and defining the fire pit. They match the stone on the columns on the deck and underneath the porch.

Since the deck had to be elevated, it became the perfect place to escape the sun. Under decking was added to ensure that the space stays dry even when it is raining. The homeowners installed a television on the porch beams for nighttime entertainment outdoors. Talk about relaxing!

This patio and deck design fulfills all of the homeowners needs and is stunning. If you are looking to have a space designed for your yard, make sure you consider how you are using the space and even what furniture may be placed. If it doesn’t flow well, ask for changes. As always, your local Archadeck office is there to help you will all your outdoor living questions.

Multi-Level Deck Opens Up Yard in Arkansas

We’ve discussed at length the importance of a good deck design. It not only has to work for the intended use, but also for the home and the rest of the yard. All components of the property should complement one another instead of combat it. When our deck builder in Little Rock, Tom Duncan, shared the following project with me, I noticed it was a great example how design can impact a yard.

deck-design-ideasThis particular backyard had an existing pool, but no deck. Instead, it had an enclosed area under the the small roof structure seen in the picture. The two spaces didn’t work with each other and inhibited interaction between people using the outdoor areas. The enclosed area was too small to entertain guests and the only access to the yard was on the opposite side of where the pool was. It just didn’t make sense for homeowners who like to entertain and have pool parties and barbecues when the weather is nice.

Tom and his team looked to create an open entertaining space that created a smooth transition from the deck to the pool. They designed a multi-level deck with wide steps Deck-builder-arkansasto open up the space. By having only three steps at any one place, the different levels, although separate, don’t feel disjointed and invite conversation and interaction between people throughout the whole yard. It also created a low-to-grade deck at the lowest level. A low-to-grade deck or patio is low to the ground and doesn’t require a railing by code. Without a railing blocking views, it invites the eye out into the pool area and yard. The higher parts of the deck do include a railing for code purposes, but the homeowners enjoy the definition and seclusion of those areas.

Access to the pool and the yard was one of the biggest issues with the home’s existing outdoor living space, but the Archadeck of Central Arkansas opened it up. Not only is all of one side of the pressure treated deck open to the pool area, but there is also an opening from the far deck area to the yard below.

Deck-PorchThis once closed off and fragmented space is now open and conducive to entertaining and interaction. There is space and areas for everyone to enjoy. The built in bench on the low deck offers a place for people to sit and enjoy the sun, while the now open porch is perfect for the person who would like some shade. It was important to the homeowners to incorporate the existing roof structure into the space. By keeping the bones and support of the structure, it was a perfect shaded addition to the structure.

Tom and the Archadeck of Central Arkansas team enhanced the utility of this backyard completely by creating a space that truly works. It all comes back to design. A good design makes for a useful space. A bad design inhibits it. If you aren’t sure what will work best in your yard, make sure you consult a professional outdoor living designer.

On an unrelated topic, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are thrilled to open voting for our Dream Backyard Makeover contest tomorrow, April 23rd! Make sure you place your vote for the homeowner you want to win the $70,000 backyard makeover!

Deck and Patio Design for Optimal Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor entertaining has emerged as a large theme in outdoor living. Many people really want a place for family and friends to gather and spend quality time outdoors.

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, it helps to have an outdoor space that was designed to accommodate that. A good patio or deck design will address flow and layout so that your outdoor parties are enjoyed by all.

Before we get into deck design ideas, if you are planning to have a barbecue or outdoor party and have an existing outdoor structure, make sure you have a deck safety inspection if you haven’t recently. The average lifespan of a deck is 10 years, but at Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest having your first safety inspection when the structure is 5 to 7 years old. Just because the deck looks OK, doesn’t mean that it is structurally sound. A professional can come and give you an idea of the current shape of your deck as well as tell you what small fixes you can do to make it last longer.

When considering a new porch, patio, deck or combination outdoor project, make sure you tell your deck designer how you intend to use the space, especially if you are looking to entertain outdoors. Be specific so they can create a space that will fit all of your needs and wants. Planning to have your guests sit around in an outdoor living room is very different than needing an outdoor dining room.

DSC_0506Defining the different areas of your outdoor space is key to keeping the flow open and useful. Take this deck for example, I love that the dining area is clearly defined. In this instance it was done by elevating the area a bit, but this can also be achieved by adding a pergola or other roof structure to create a “room” or by switching the material pattern.

A space that is well designed for entertaining takes into account that entertaining means people and people means space to sit. For some homeowners that means an open space where they can place outdoor furniture. That allows for some flexibility if furniture needs to be moved or if you would like to switch out the furniture periodically. Other deck builders will include a built-in seating bench or retaining wall to accommodate guests. Normally benches or retaining walls are used both as a place to sit and a way to designate the use of the space.

287814661210_0_BGWhen people entertain outdoors they sometimes like to do the respective cooking outdoors too. For that, an outdoor kitchen is perfect, however, the design should be able to hold more than just the chef. This outdoor kitchen is perfect for entertaining, for example, because it has space for people to circle around and talk while people cook on the grill or outdoor pizza oven. It keeps the chef in the middle of the action and conversation.

The key to any good patio or deck design idea is that it checks off your list of needs and wants. An outdoor living structure can be pricey, so it is best to be very clear with your deck builder what you want out of the space. If you aren’t sure, download our free Archadeck Design Guide. The guide asks a series of questions that will help you envision the backyard of your dreams.

Archadeck Outdoor Living Gets Dream Backyard of its Own

We at Archadeck Outdoor Living pride ourselves on being the experts in outdoor living structures. Whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other project, we design and build the backyards of our clients’ dreams. I hate to admit it, but despite being America’s oldest and largest deck builder, our corporate office’s outdoor living space is lacking. Actually, it doesn’t really exist right now, but we photoare thrilled to say that that will be changing soon!

Since we are currently in the middle of a $70,000 dream backyard makeover contest, we decided it was time to build our dream space too! Our corporate design staff of draftsmen have designed the perfect outdoor living space for our corporate offices that will soon be underway. I, of course, will be sharing photos and details of how it is coming throughout the process. To start, I want to show you what the plans look like.

OLB beforeAs you can see in the first 3D rendering and the photo, our corporate office’s property doesn’t look like a place the outdoor living experts work. We, along with the other companies that we share our building with, wanted a place to enjoy the outdoors when the weather permits. Since we would be the ones designing and building the space, we created a combination structure to show our corporate partners, franchisees and potential franchisees.

deck-patio-richmondThe first step in the process is to get permission from the building owners to make the significant enhancements to the property. Much like our system of porch, patio and deck builders do with their clients, our corporate team presented them with several options to consider. An outdoor living project is a significant investment and it’s important to us that our clients feel confident in their purchase when they sign a contract. To ensure that is the case, our design options are presented in 3D renderings that depict what the space will look like on their property. These renders have our entire office waiting impatiently for the space to be available.

patio-deck-richmondThese renderings show the final design that is currently with the county for permits. The project will consist of a new paver walkway that leads to an upper paver patio surrounded by seating walls and a fireplace. There will be two entrances off the patio to a 900 square foot composite deck loaded with benches throughout. Since Virginia can bring plenty of hot summer days, a large pergola will cover and shade a large part of the deck. On the far end of the deck there will be a set of stairs that lead to a lower paver patio with outdoor an outdoor kitchen (company cookouts, here we come!)

patio-deck-pergolaFor the detail-oriented, here are the specifications of the space: The deck will be a little over 900 square feet. In addition, it will have 105 linear feet of white, vinyl railings, 38 linear feet of composite bench, composite trim and solid board skirting. There will be a total of two pergolas, an entrance one, comprised of 34 square feet and the second one that covers part of the deck will be 484 square feet.

As for the paver component, the space will have a total of 1,020 total square feet of Belgard Holland Stone, 108 linear feet of seating wall and 4 stone columns. On the upper patio there will be a 9 foot wide fireplace and an outdoor kitchen on the lower patio.

We are all excited to build and enjoy the new outdoor living space. We are currently waiting for all of the local permits to go through before we break ground on the space. Sit tight for updates!