Enjoying Fall Nights in Screened Porch and Patio

To me, fall is the perfect season. The colors are beautiful and the cool temperatures call for nights cozying around a fire. When our deck builder in Rolling Meadows, IL and the surrounding areas shared this project with me that he completed this last summer, I couldn’t help but imagine spending my fall nights on it.

The owners of this home in Mokena, IL wanted to update their backyard with areas for shade, sun and plenty of warmth. The Archadeck of Chicagoland team designed a combination screened porch and patio with two fire features that will allow for plenty of use.

Kuehl 7 LOGOAttached to the back of their home, the owners wanted a roof structure that had room for both a living area and a dining area. The Archadeck team not only gave them what they asked for, but took it to the next level. The large screened porch easily fits a large couch/sectional and dining table for 6, but doesn’t feel at all cramped due to the square footage and the cathedral ceilings. Higher ceilings make spaces feel larger. At one end of the room, a large, and gorgeous fireplace was installed to make it feel cozy and to increase use.

While this room is technically a screened porch, the Archadeck team installed 4-track windows to make it a porch and sunroom in one. Tracks slide up and down as needed. The tracks may be open all spring and summer, but be moved up in the fall and winter as the nights get cooler.

Personally, I love the finishes of this porch. The pressure treated pine-decking complements the brick of the home and gives it that rustic feeling that is so beautiful.

Kuehl 2 LOGOBut let’s not forget about the patio design! Right off the screened porch and next to the home are square pavers and then freeform stones were used around the custom fire pit. The two types of pavers work beautifully with the home’s subtle brick and provide transitions from space to space. Instead of a square or rectangular patio, Archadeck designed a curved patio for visual interest and flow.

The homeowners are thrilled with their new outdoor living space. To me, it’s a great example of how design can make all the difference. The combination of screened porch with track windows and outdoor fireplace with a patio with a custom fire pit is the perfect space for the Illinois area. It truly maximizes the amount of time the owners can enjoy it!

If you’re interested in updating your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Considering a New Wood Deck? Go for it!

When it comes to large financial decisions, you want to feel good about your purchases. From cars to renovations, if you are like me, you weigh the benefits of moving forward with the investment now or waiting. If a new wood deck is on your list of renovations, rest assured, you’ll not only get more living space, but you’ll be adding value to your home.

Archadeck 2012Whether it’s adding a new bathroom, updating a kitchen or adding a deck to your backyard, return on investment should be part of your evaluation project. Will it add value to the home? A Remodeling Magazines Cost Vs. Value report ranks wood decks as the second highest Return On Invest project in the midrange cost (a new entry door was number one). According to the report, when homeowners add a wood deck to their property, they can expect to recoup, on average, 87.4% of the cost, adding value to your home.

Decks are great and easy way to increase the usable space on your property. Working with a professional and experienced deck builder, homeowners can have a space designed and built specifically for their needs. It can be as small or as large as you want, but deck design is important. If it isn’t designed properly and doesn’t fit how you intend to use it, you won’t. Make sure you are very clear with how you intend to use your new deck, be it cooking, entertaining, reading, etc. so you get the backyard of your dreams!

WRI-013Over the last several years, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have seen the composite decking category boom. Don’t get us wrong, composite is a great option for decking, but wood is still a viable and cost-effective option. Pressure-treated wood is getting better too, with new eco-friendly options.

Sometime the look of wood can’t be beat. For the homeowner that enjoys the knots and grain, pressure-treated wood is your best option for decking material. It can be stained in a variety of different colors to complement the finishes of your home, but you’ll still see the detail.

If you have questions on designing or building wood decks, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Making a new space complement your existing home: it’s all in the details

Just a few weeks ago, I went to visit a friend who had recently purchased a new home. We walked through the living space as she pointed out things that they loved and projects they knew they would have to tackle. When we got to the back of the house, it was clear that a new sunroom/living space was on the project list. It was obviously an add-on, and not one that was done well. The finishes were a completely different design and architectural style than the rest of the home. It just didn’t fit.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, when we design and build outdoor living structures, we want them to look like they’ve always been there. They should not look like an afterthought. Often, it’s the details of the project that make this a reality. Here are two examples that show how a space can fit right into an existing home.

sunroom-builder-augusta-gaThe owners of this Augusta, GA home wanted to replace an existing deck with a screened in porch. They felt they would use a screened porch more, especially if it could include a fireplace.

Archadeck of Augusta designed and built the porch to fit the owners’ needs and tastes, as well as their home. As you can see, it looks like it has been there for years! There are two design details that make this happen: the white trim and the brick. The home has white trim along its roofline and windows. The crisp white looks great against the green. By having the framing, skirting and railings of the space be white, the screened porch “fits” with the rest of the space.

The outdoor fireplace brick, as well as the brick walkway, are a more subtle detail. You can barely see in the picture, but the foundation of the home is brick. The color and size of the bricks are nearly identical to the ones used in the porch.

BeforeThis next example comes from our porch, patio and deck builder in Denver. Like the first example, this home had an existing deck. It was old and needed to be replaced. Instead of building another deck, the owners wanted a sunroom that they could use even when there was snow on the ground.

sunroomoutsidefortcollinsCurtis Crays of Archadeck of the Front Range designed the addition, paying particular attention to the windows and the color. The home’s color is unique and by being just a little off in the color, it would be noticed. Curtis worked with the homeowners to learn the exact color of the home’s siding and trim and was able to use the same ones. Can you imagine what it would look like if it were white?

The sunroom windows were also an important part of the design. The main home’s windows are pretty simple, without a lot of panes in them. Curtis used similar windows to make the transition to the sunroom smoother.

Whenever you are considering adding on an outdoor space to your home, make sure that you pay attention to the finishing touches, both inside and out. Your sunroom, porch, patio or deck designer should be able to work with you to define what details need to be incorporated into the site. And, as always, please contact your local Archadeck office for any questions or to discuss your outdoor living needs or concerns.

Patio and Deck Design, it’s all about the details

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our motto is “better building, by design.” Not only is our construction and building top notch, but our patio and deck design in amazing. When it comes to creating something not only functional (although that is goal number one), but also beautiful, sometimes it comes down to the small details of the project.

Our trained designers think beyond the obvious and that’s what makes some of projects as stunning as they are. Here are just a few ideas of finishing details that can make your outdoor living space go from “nice” to “oh, wow.”

Deck with planterDifferent Decking Patterns – Decking boards are the base of a deck, but they can also be a beautiful design component. Our designers often place the boards in different patterns to define space or to make a deck a little more unique. We may use different color decking boards as well to add visual interest. Take deck for example; the boards were installed at different angles throughout the space. It enhances the space by helping to define each section of the deck.

patio-builder-columbusUtilizing Multiple Materials – This goes along with number one, but outdoor living design isn’t about using one color or material. When designing and installing patios, for instance, we often incorporate different materials into one project either to define or highlight different areas. The gray stone on this patio clearly highlights the step down to the lower portion of the patio. By mixing and matching material the entire space is more aesthetically appealing.

Trimming out a post or a beam. Many decks and patio require a railing to meet building codes and requirements. While they may be necessary, they can also be decorative. Trimming out a beam or a post is adding a decorative detail to make it look nicer.

Sanding rail caps – sometimes the little things make all the difference. Simply sanding down the rail caps and their edges will make everything smoother and cleaner looking. Not to mention you’ll be less likely to get any splinters!

Consider the stairs – stairs are another area for subtle deck design. Whether it’s using different colors for the horizontal and vertical components or placing them at an interesting angle, it all matters. These stairs, for example, are cornered and take up more space, but they create a more open looking entrance to the deck.

The best patio and deck design ideas are often found in the details. Make sure you talk to your deck builder about your style so that he/she can create something that you will love. Please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office if you want to experience our better building, by design.

Winter: the Perfect Time to Plan your New Backyard

While I enjoy the winter season, it isn’t my favorite. I may enjoy cozying up by a fire in the fireplace, but I don’t enjoy running from my car to a building due to the cold. My husband and I often plan a trip or event in the spring so that we have something to look forward to. At Archadeck, we often tell people to plan their new outdoor space in the winter, not only to have something to look forward to, but also something you know you can enjoy in the spring.

Not surprisingly, the spring and summer months make up our busy season in the porch, patio and deck building industry. As the weather warms up and people move outside they often realize that they need to improve their outdoor living space. Unfortunately, it make take weeks or months to get a new outdoor living structure built, cutting down on the time you can actually use it.

A good design can help you envision your future outdoor living space

A good design can help you envision your future outdoor living space

At Archadeck we design and build custom outdoor living spaces. It takes time. First thing that has to be done is the design. In the design phase, we work with our clients to learn their expectations, likes and dislikes. Depending on the homeowner, we may do two or three designs to make sure it is exactly what they want.

After the design is finalized, building plans are drawn and submitted to the county for permitting. No building can be done during that part of the process. Some permitting takes a few weeks to get the go-ahead for.

After all  of that, building can begin and, depending on the scale of the project, you can begin enjoying your new space in a few weeks.

DSC_0506So why am I telling you all this? We want you to enjoy your outdoor living spaces as much as possible and the earlier it can be done, the better. Planning is a big part of that.  If you know that next year you want to build a new outdoor structure, call your deck builder now. While the ground may be frozen (only in a few parts of the country) and building can’t begin yet, designing and planning can.

The purpose of planning and designing your projects in the winter is so you can be on the top of the building list when ground can be broken. And, the earlier the building can begin, the earlier you can start enjoying your new deck, porch, patio, sunroom or other outdoor living structure come the warmer weather.

If you are interested in starting to design your new outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Our trained and experienced designers will work with you to create a space that fits your needs, tastes and budget.

Defining Spaces in Outdoor Rooms

When I was little the idea of outdoor living didn’t mean the same as it does today. Back then it was a deck or patio off the back of the house were you put some basic outdoor friendly chairs to sit and enjoy a drink before dinner. My how things have changed. Outdoor living now is about truly living outdoors. From outdoor living rooms to a place to cook and eat dinner outside, outdoor spaces have come a long way.

Creating rooms outdoors is all about you and how you intend to use the space. Defining the space is one way to make it feel like a real room.  When creating a patio or deck design, this is something that we at Archadeck consider. Here are some popular ways of creating definition and separation for an outdoor room.

deck-design-ideasShape and structure. Shape and structure are the foundation of any outdoor living space, but they are also the first thing to consider when defining different sections of a space. For example, imagine you want areas for both lounging and dining in your backyard. There are much more interesting ways to accomplish that than by having a simple rectangular deck on the back of your home. Maybe the space has a deck for an outdoor living set and then it leads to a patio for dining. Or, take this dining area for example, it has its own nook in a different shape off this deck.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyPrivacy fences and railings. Indoors it is often walls that set one room apart from another. Well, the outdoors version of walls is privacy fences and railings. They are a great way to designate different areas of a room. Also, privacy fences help to make an outdoor space really feel like a room. Take this deck for example, the lattice privacy screens around the space make it feel like a cozy place to sit back and enjoy friends and family.

Pergolas. Pergolas are one of my favorite outdoor structures. Not only are they visually interesting, but they also a great option if you’re looking for a shade structure or a way to add definition to your space. Roof structures like porches and sunrooms are wonderful, but they can be pricy. Pergolas, in some instances, can play a similar role as a roof structure by defining a space, as seen in the image above.

Material. One of the easiest ways to break up an outdoor living space is to work with the material of the space. We’ve had franchisees change the color of deck boards throughout a space, or use different materials all together to create transitions. If you only want to use one material, for instance decking, you can still create different areas. Ask your deck builder to lay the boards in different directions.

If you have questions on how to create the best outdoor living space for you and your needs, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

One Outdoor Space that has it All

When we meet with a new client, we ask them what their dream backyard includes. Do they eventually want a space that has a deck, outdoor kitchen, pergola and more? We want all our outdoor projects look cohesive and not an afterthought. A complete design plan is key to that. Not every client can build his or her dream backyard at one time, instead it may take years.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we believe that thinking ahead is the best way to make sure that the end project is indeed the outdoor living space the client has always wanted. Through the design, we can decide what pieces can and should be built when if it can’t be done all at one. We call this staged building.

This project from our patio and deck builder in Charlotte is a good example of a space that has everything the owners could ever want and could have been built in stages.

Archadeck 2012This picture shows the view from a nice screened porch off the back of the house. It looked out of over a large patio and pool. The portion of the patio around the pool and the screened porch would have been a good first step in creating this backyard space. They are the anchors of the final project of this backyard. Everything else could be added on from there.

Archadeck 2012Off the pool patio, there is another hardscaped area, mostly a large covered patio. The covered patio is really an outdoor room for the family. It is centered around cooking and dining. I love that enough space was allocated for both a good-sized outdoor kitchen and a dining area. It doesn’t make sense for them to be separated from one another. An open patio area is set to the size of the covered patio that has space for chairs around a beautiful fire pit. This would make a good portion of the project that could be done in the second phase of building.

Archadeck 2012Lastly, to the right of the screened porch, there is a private deck area that is used for an outdoor shower and hot tub. The high fence that surrounds it acts as a privacy wall around the space. It is set up as a more private “oasis” within this gorgeous backyard space. This could have been done in the last phase of the build.

A good backyard design keeps the present, future and the dream in mind. The homeowner then has an idea of what can be and can work towards making it happen. If you have questions on how to create a design based on building in stages, please reach out to 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.

Dream Backyard Second Place Winner Receives New Patio

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a while since we updated everyone on our Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Some of the projects are in final design and build, but one second place winner is now the proud owner of a brand new Belgard patio, designed and built by Archadeck of Chicagoland.

February Finalist 2This is what the Hall family had to begin with. Underneath the snow there was a small concrete patio that wasn’t the beautiful space they envisioned relaxing on. The family explained in their contest description that they bought this house only days after the birth of their first child. While they love the home, they really wanted a space to entertain friends and family outdoors.

The Halls were second place winners in the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover, which means they won a $7,000 patio project with material from Belgard Hardscapes. David Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland worked with the family to design a space that fit the space and worked for their needs. The patio design, as seen in the picture below, was set off of their main family room. Existing walkways both from the other back door and the front yard, were left to work as additional entry points.

patio-design-Palantine-IL

The property is on a corner lot which lacks privacy. While the Halls wanted a space that was open, a retaining wall was added to the design for a little privacy and to clearly define that side of the space (not to mention retaining walls make great seating!).

One of the most noticeable aspects of the design is its shape. David created a curved patio instead of the more common square or rectangular patio. Sometimes straight lines can make furnishing the space more difficult (unless the space is very large). Curved lines allow for more creativity.

The actual build of the space took about a week. Demo was the first step. There was a concrete slab off the back of the house to begin with that needed to be ripped out. While the team was chopping up and removing concrete, they also dug the space needed for the patio base and added drain tiles to make sure water doesn’t pool on the surface.

IMG_2520The patio was done in Belgard’s Holland Stone pavers and placed in a random pattern. Below the pavers are inches of base to anchor the space and keep it level and in place. There are 4 to 6 inches of crushed limestone covered with just under an inch of sand. The sand allows the patio builders to lay the pavers in place and keep them sturdy.

Doesn’t the space look great? We think that David did a great job! The Halls are now enjoying their new space, which we are thrilled about.

If you have any questions regarding paver patios or other outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Portico Welcomes Guests in Style

Posted by: janegwalker

We post a lot about the absolutely beautiful backyard spaces that our porch, patio and deck contractors design and build, but sometimes we don’t give enough credit to the front of the home. When I saw the pictures of this front porch I knew I had to share it. It’s classically beautiful that gives the home a true “wow” factor.

The owners of this property needed an updated place to welcome guests and entertain them. They live is a great neighborhood that they wanted to be able to enjoy from their front yard (and then have privacy in the back). Our deck builder in Boston created a space that spans the width of the house and includes both covered and open spaces.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhen designing the space, the Archadeck of Suburban Boston knew they wanted a portico area that provided guests with some coverage. In the cold Massachusetts nights, the homeowners didn’t want friends and family waiting in the falling snow (or rain). The portico only covers the front door because if it too went the width of the house it would block too much sunlight into the home. Many deck and porch designers don’t take the inside of the home into account when creating the space, but an outdoor project can have a major impact on the inside of the house. The front windows wouldn’t allow much sun into the home’s front windows if the porch area were any wider.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhile we didn’t want the covered area to be too wide where it affects light into the home, it is wider than the average portico. Most porticos aren’t much wider than the front door and that can oven make it look cramped. By creating more room under the roof structure, it makes the whole space look more inviting and accessible. The width is kept at the bottom of the front the stairs and then tapers down the to the walkway (which we will talk about below).

The columns, ceiling and railings were finished in white to give a clean look. If a darker color were used, it wouldn’t have the same crisp first impression. It’s so light.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhile many front porches have stone floors, wood decking was used across this entire project. It makes it unique and the deep browns look great with the blue of the home and white of the railings.

I love the front walkway to this home because it isn’t cookie cutter. It’s special. The three colors are the perfect complement to the rest of the front facade. The dark lines bring out bring out the black shutters and door, but it would be way too dark for the entire walkway.

If you have questions on how to make your home more welcoming, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.