Adding some Privacy to your Open Deck

When my husband and I were looking at homes, that backyard was important to us. We didn’t need everything perfect right away, but we wanted to make sure that the yard and property was conducive to our overall plans.  While we wanted an open, deck porch or patio, we wanted a feeling of privacy at least in part of the space. While trees, shrubbery and other landscaping can play a major role in creating a private backyard, so can a structure. This deck and porch project from Columbus, OH is a great example of how to have private and open areas in one outdoor space.

Auborn Before (2)This existing deck didn’t have anything wrong with it. It provided the necessary space the owner’s need to both cook and eat outside, but they wanted a private area. The homeowners were looking to purchase a new hot tub, but didn’t want it out on the open deck. Rob Mitchell of Archadeck Outdoor Living, patio and deck builder in Columbus, designed and built the perfect solution.

Auborn Room Finished (4) Rob MitchellThe homeowners didn’t want to lose any of their existing deck space to a private area, so Rob recommended adding on to the space and creating an enclosed gazebo structure. The new space is essentially its own room for the hot tub!

Light and heat were two concerns for the new gazebo. While the hot tub is a place to relax and warm up, if the walls were completely enclosed the room would hold too much heat! To relieve heat concerns, Rob designed the upper half of the walls to be slatted. Additionally, windows with shutter shades were added to allow heat to go out.

Auborn Room Finished (2) Rob MitchellThe slatted walls and windows not only addressed the heat concerns, but also some of the light concerns. As you can see in the picture, light is able to come through the walls and windows. A large lighting fixture was added to the ceiling to provide adequate light at nighttime.

Patio and deck design should fit the needs of the homeowners. As the needs evolve and change, so can the space, just like this example. They didn’t need to tear down their existing deck. Instead, the outdoor living space was updated to add more privacy and the perfect “room” for their hot tub.

If you have questions on how to improve your outdoor living areas, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Enjoying the Seasons with a Sunroom

One of my favorite parts of the fall is the color of the changing leaves. They are absolutely beautiful. However, it is also the time of year that  the temperatures drop and we are often forced inside to warm up. Sunrooms are the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors all year round from the comfort of your home.

sunroom-builder-chapel-hillFrom escaping the summer heat to feeling as if you are in the middle of a winter wonderland  while the snow falls around you, sunrooms allow you to appreciate the outdoors 365 days a year. A room is considered a sunroom when the walls (usually 3 of the 4 walls in a typical square or rectangular room) are made up primarily of windows, allowing sunlight to come in easily. When considering a new outdoor living space, a sunroom is a great consideration.

Sunrooms increase the square footage of your home. From a dining space or family room to a playroom for the kids, sunrooms are versatile rooms in your home that you can use however you need. In my parent’s house, they use their sunroom as a place to have drinks and appetizers before moving indoors for dinner.

Patio, deck and sunroom comboAs opposed to decks, porches and patios, sunrooms can be used all year round if built with that intention. As you work with your sunroom contractor to design the space, make sure you can tell your designer that you want the space heated in the fall and winter. When the weather is nice, all the windows can be open to let the fresh air and breeze, but when it is cool outside, you may need a built-in heating option. Generally, sunrooms are energy efficient, heating up with the sun’s rays, but there will be times a heater is needed.

When my parents added their sunroom to the existing home, we were all surprised by how much it affected the rest of the home. It not only allowed more light to come into the general living space (which was a nice surprise), but it also made the layout of the house flow better.

Design is key when adding on to your home in any fashion. Pay particular attention to detail if making it look like it has always been there is important to you. For example, if you have crown molding and a certain type of window throughout your home, you may want to include it in your sunroom design. Mimicking the style and architecture of the home is one method to make sure everything works together.

If you have questions regarding sunrooms and sunroom design, please reach out to your local Archaeck Outdoor Living 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.

Screened In Porches – Rooms You’ll Use

As a kid, I remember visiting my aunt and uncle’s house to see their new screened in porch. It was nice, a square room that had 3 screened walls. It fulfilled its purpose as a place to sit and enjoy the outdoors without bugs, but it wasn’t special. It was pretty standard for screened porches of the time, but man have things changed. Knowing what I know now, I see that the plain square screened room is a lost opportunity for a really special space in your home.

Our Archadeck franchisees design and build some of the most beautiful screened in porches I’ve ever seen. As I look at them, it becomes more apparent that the custom design is the key to making sure the room is a true outdoor living space and not just another room added on to the house. Before designing the space, our porch designers will ask questions like: how do you intend to use the space, what time of the day do you want to do use it, how many people does it need to accommodate, etc. These questions lead to projects like these:

Screened in Porch IowaThis screened in porch in Des Moines is beautiful inside and out and may be one of my favorite examples of an “outdoor” structure that is truly usable. The homeowners wanted an additional porch where they could have a drink with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors without the elements, but most importantly, they wanted an additional outdoor living room. From there, our porch designer in Iowa, Screened Porch Des MoinesHarold, designed this space. You can see from this angle that the structure itself blends perfectly with the finishes of the home. To ensure the inside get optimum amounts of light, windows surround three of its sides and skylights were installed on the roof. While the outside looks beautiful, it’s the inside and its details that define the screened in porch as a living room. Take look at that outdoor fireplace! The large stone fireplace warms up the space both literally and figuratively, and its mantle and hearth give it a homey look. The placement of the TV is key to making the space it a true living space. It clearly isn’t an afterthought. I also love the lantern like light fixture on the roof.

Archadeck 2012The needs and wants of this homeowner in Charlotte were a little different. He wanted to add a screened in porch to back of his home for an additional place to sit and relax, but needed it to also be a smooth transition to his outdoor patio. His neighborhood is newer and because of construction as well as close neighbors, he needed the ability to block off some of the sides from time to time. Archadeck of Charlotte designed a simple space that fit all of the homeowner’s requirements. All of the woodwork was finished in whites and creams to provide the brightness. Archadeck 2012The transition between porch and patio was achieved by using the same concrete inside and outside the space. The last issue to work through was privacy. The homeowner didn’t want anything permanent and building in any privacy walls would take away from the airiness of the porch so they decide to install some curtain rods along the exterior that can be opened and shut as needed or wanted by the homeowners.

If you have questions regarding screened in porches and how one may add to your outdoor living experience, don’t hesitate to call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Combinations of Outdoor Living Spaces Define Use

One of the first questions our outdoor living designers ask our clients is “how do you intend to use the space?” Without that answer the design won’t be as good as it can be. Answers to that question can vary from cooking with and entertaining friends and family to sunbathing and relaxing. For many of our clients their outdoor living spaces need to multifunctional. If that’s the case, the designer needs to create a project that has a flow that defines the separate spaces for different functions.

Many of our clients choose combination outdoor living spaces, meaning a deck with a pergola, patio with outdoor kitchen, etc. Using different structures is a clear way to define separate areas within an outdoor living area. Here are some beautiful examples from our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees.

Patio, deck and sunroom combo This project from our patio and deck builder in Boston transformed this backyard into a multipurpose space using a patio, deck and sunroom. The sunroom is a beautiful extension of the home that looks as if it’s always been there. It can be used most of, if not all,  year when the cold Massachusetts weather may keep the homeowners off the patio. The sunroom is a great place to sit and relax or have a glass of wine with friends and family. The patio’s main use is dining. You can see that dining area is clearly defined by a circular paver pattern that’s different than the rest of the space. Changing the pattern of a building product, deck or patio, is an easy way to break up a space. Lastly, a small raised deck was added as an entrance into the hot tub.

deck, patio and screened porch
The homeowners of this project wanted space to eat, entertain, enjoy and escape the sun. Our deck builder in Newton created a space that could encompass all those uses. The bottom patio level is made from brick pavers and is the perfect place to enjoy the sun whereas the screened porch is the best place to escape it. The deck is really two spaces with the pergola creating isn’t own space to the right.

deck in Nova ScotiaWhile this project is all one deck in Nova Scotia, its multi-level design break it up for its numerous purposes. On the top level, a custom outdoor kitchen, table and chairs define that space as the dining area, while the built-in bench and fire pit create a great place to sit and relax on a cool night.

patio builder - georgiaTalk about a multi-purpose space! This project from our patio contractor in Macon has it all! The custom outdoor kitchen has a large eat in bar to sit or stand at while cooking and the fire pit is clearly defined with a different colored paver. The large patio surrounds a pool where everyone can sit and relax.

If you are interested in learning how a combination project can enhance your outdoor living space, contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Sunroom or Screened Porch? Why not have both?!

Deciding on a new outdoor living space is a big decision. There are so many options now, decks, patios, sunrooms, porches, outdoor kitchens and more, and they all have their own benefits. In preparing and budgeting for your projects, it’s important that you weigh what is most important to you. Is it size? Material? Budget? These are all questions that you should be able to tell your contractor when the time comes.

One question we at Archadeck Outdoor Living often hear is what’s best, a sunroom or a screened porch? In short, both are great outdoor living options that can add significant value to your home. But now, you don’t have to make the decision of sunroom or screened porch. You can have them both, in one project.

Our customers love sunrooms as they can use them all year round while still being surrounded (on three sides) by the outdoors. Those with screened porches love to sit in the shade and feel the breeze without being bothered by bugs. And then there are the lucky few that have both.

Sliding Window Panels Central Arkansas

PGT Eze-Breeze in use on an Archadeck of Central Arkansas project

Sliding and removable panels are becoming more popular in the outdoor living category because they provide customers with a variety of ways for their rooms to be used i.e. as both a sunroom AND a screened porch. PGT Eze-Breeze is a vertical sliding panel of vinyl windows that are backed with screens. When the weather is right, slide them down for a screened in porch, and pull them right back up when it’s raining! The panels are custom-made for your project and available in a variety of colors to make sure they complement your home perfectly. The vinyl window is lightweight to make the sliding easy and still provides the same view as regular glass.

Vinyl windows may not work for every location. Some homes need something more durable and insulating. For those customers, we have removable glass panels and windows. In the warmer months, the panels/windows can be removed so that the sides are just screened. And when it gets cold again, just put them right back into place. It’s all about options people!

Charlotte NC screened porch with outdoor fireplaceIf you are planning an outdoor living space and aren’t 100% sure what you want, it’s important to start asking yourself some questions, like how are you going to use the space? What views are important to you? The Archadeck Design Guide can help guide your thinking and prepare you for future meetings with contractors. And, as always, feel free to contact us, or your local Archadeck office for more information.

Don’t let the chill in the air discourage you from enjoying your outdoor living space

Arch. of maryland screened porch w skylights

This magnificent screened porch by Archadeck of Maryland uses skylights to add additional height to the vaulted ceiling, this result is open and airy.

The chill in the air is beginning to become more noticeable all around the country. It signifies the end of summer splendor and its long balmy days spent enjoying your deck. Just because summer has ended doesn’t mean you have to cuddle up inside to keep warm and miss mother nature’s splendor that is still unfolding all around you. Many homeowners are considering the ever-popular option of closing in their existing deck, or a portion of their deck and creating a three or four season room  or other outdoor structure that can extend your outdoor living enjoyment into and beyond the cooler months of the year. In order to determine if closing in to create an extended season outdoor living structure would be right for you there are several considerations that have to be bought to the forefront.

The first consideration that has to be addressed is the structural integrity of your existing deck. In order to accommodate the weight of a roofed structure. Many decks are not built to withstand the weight of adding a roof. In order for a deck to be able to withstand the weight of a roof. The foundation of the deck will have to extend all the way to the corners of the structure. In cases where the foundation does not extend to the corners, changes must be made to have the foundation extended and new footers will have to be added in order to safely support and hold the weight. Determining whether or not your deck fits conversion criteria can be answered from a quick inspection by a professional outdoor structure builder, and  depending on their findings will let you know how you wish to proceed with getting the deck structurally compatible to withstand a conversion such as a three or four season room, a screened porch or even a sunroom.

Cedar screened porch in Ankeny Iowa

Cedar screened porch in Ankeny Iowa

Once the issue of foundation reinforcements has been addressed, the next step is to decide which type of conversion would best suit your individual needs. Screen porches are very popular and can be enjoyed late into the fall in many areas around the country, but this all depends on your geographical location and whether the area you live in experiences mild autumns or more harsh, cold autumns. Making the decision to convert your deck or a section of your deck into a screened porch will have benefits even in the warm summer months by keeping insects at bay and protecting you from the sun. Screen porches can be in use even during inclement weather since they are roofed. This means that the backyard dinner you had planned won’t be put on hold with a little rain because you  would have a roofed screen porch to utilize. Many homeowners also opt to use a sliding window panel system to make use of their screened porch later into the year. A convertible windows like the EZE breeze sliding panel system and the Artistic Enclosures Screen Plus System offer you the ability to convert your screened porch into a three season room on demand. These convertibility systems use sliding glass panels that mimic the function of a sliding door and can be set into place very easily and quickly. By adding a space heater to the structure you can utilize the space for longer periods through even the chilliest season. By using a convertible system on your screened porch you can still feel the warm breezes of summer, and when the temperature drops you have the peace of mind  knowing that your screened porch also offers more function with added cold weather protection as well.

Archadeck of Chester County sunroom and deck

This design by Archadeck of Chester County includes a deck and a custom sunroom.

Another viable option when making the decision to enclose a deck or portion thereof, is a four season room or a sunroom. These type of structures function as an extension of your homes living area as well as an extension of your outdoor living area.  Four season rooms, as well as sunrooms give you an unobscured view of nature by the use of  numerous windows that sometimes even feel as though they are window walls. These structures can be used year round, snow or sleet because sunrooms and four season rooms require a HVAC system, or instill the use of a wall mounted electric inversion  heating and cooling system that offer individual room control  like those offered by Mitsubishi electric. In essence the presence of HVAC, or heating and cooling system creates a dynamic where you actually are getting a room addition when you choose to convert to a four season room or sunroom.

Here is an example of a sunroom that makes beautiful music with Velux skylights.

The world is your oyster in terms of design,when you choose to transform your deck into a four season room or sunroom.

Another benefit of converting your deck into a sunroom or four season room is the freedom of material choices that can be used within  it and to finish out your structure. A whole new set of design choices open up to sunroom and four season room owners. All of the same materials that can be used safely within an interior room inside your home can become finish options for your sunroom or four season room. These include sheetrocked walls, carpet, hardwoods and a myriad of other design choices. An added benefit is that the furniture used within your structure won’t have to be weatherproof when considering using it on your sunroom or four season room. The world is truly your oyster.

If you are on the fence about considering an enclosure or conversion of your deck, or a part of you deck into a screened porch or three season room or even a sunroom or four season room Archadeck can make it happen. Contact us today to learn more about improving the lifestyle you lead on your deck.

To learn more and find an Archadeck in your area, see our locations list located on our website.

You can also get more ideas and design inspirations by visiting our screened porch gallery, sunroom gallery, and our three and four season room gallery, also located on our website.