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.

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 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.