Warm Up this Fall by an Open Flame

This summer has truly flown by. It’s hard to accept that football is now on TV and kids are going back to school. As I look forward to autumn, I’m excited to spend time outdoors with friends and family. One feature that makes it more comfortable: an outdoor fireplace.

Fire features are a growing trend in the outdoor living category. Whether you have a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace, they often become the centerpiece of any outdoor living space; the perfect spot to sit and enjoy friends and family. When it comes to outdoor fireplaces, the perfect one can be designed and built just for you.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design and build custom outdoor living structures for our clients. Each homeowner has different needs and tastes and we create spaces around their preferences. An outdoor fireplace is no different; just take a look at these unique structures to get an idea.a2

Some homeowners enjoy a traditional or classic style. This first outdoor fireplace sits within a screened porch and complements the classic finishes of the entire room. A clean red brick was used as the primary material to go with the crisp white trim and finishes. To bring extra attention to the piece, traditional sconces and wood mantle were added to the fireplace.

outdoor-fireplaceThis large wood burning outdoor fireplace has a completely different look and feel than the first example. It anchors the patio that it is a part of. Instead of traditional brick, it’s made out of a neutral, natural stone. High mantles on either side were designed to define the space and make it feel like a true room that just happens to be outside. The sides also act as storage for the firewood for the piece. I love the rustic earthy feel of this fireplace.

LOWMAI~1This last example comes from our deck builder in Charlotte, NC. Their screened in porch includes a lot of earth tones and natural wood on the ceiling. A red brick just wouldn’t fit the overall design of the space. Instead a stone outdoor fireplace was designed with a wood mantle to complement the ceiling of the porch. Doesn’t it look like a cozy place to curl up?

Outdoor fireplaces not only allow you to use your outdoor spaces longer into the season, but are also a great design statement. From stone and brick to gas vs. wood burning options, Archadeck Outdoor Living will design the perfect fireplace for you.

Increase Your Curb Appeal this Month

August marks National Curb Appeal Month which focuses on helping homeowners add value and design appeal to their home’s exterior. Do you have plans to increase the looks of your home?

The front of a house and surrounding property are your home’s first impression to visitors and neighbors. It is even more important when you are trying to sell your home as potential buyers will drive buy to take in the property. If you aren’t sure where to start when trying to update your home, here are some ideas:

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyUpdate the walkway. Friends and family enter your property and home often times via a walkway or sidewalk. Make sure that the edges are clean and the surrounding landscaping is well groomed. You may consider adding some flowers or plants along the edges if it makes sense. If your walkway is old, cracking or uneven, you may consider having it replaced. At Archadeck, we design and install beautiful paver walkways to guide visitors to the front of the home.

Pop the front of the home with color. Splashes of color can make a home look more fun and inviting. Color can be added to the front of the home can be done in a variety of ways. If you want something more permanent, you can paint your front door your favorite color. If you want something that can be easily changed over time, consider adding bright planters around the door or fun outdoor pillows on any furniture you have on your front porch. Flowers are also a great way quickly add more color to your property.

Portico-montgomery-CountyUpdate your front porch. A front porch or portico can make a great first impression when done well. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design and build front porches that fit the existing home. Whether it’s a porch that runs the width of the home, or a small portico to provide some cover for guests, a great front porch can add value and curb appeal to your home.

Add some unique finishes. The exterior of your home not only shows off your property, but also your personality. Look for ways to highlight who you are in your design. For instance, choose house numbers that have a fun or different design. Or, add some fun outdoor furniture to your front porch or patio.

Adding curb appeal can be as complicated as you want it to be. Both the large projects, like a new porch, or small ones like adding some flowers here and there, will make an impact.

This is Why you Don’t DIY a Patio

When it comes to outdoor living spaces and structures, there are aspects that you may be able to do yourself, and others that are just too complicated. When it comes to the structures themselves, we say leave it to the professionals. This article from the New York Times illustrates how hard it can truly be to build a patio yourself.

The curved lines of this patio open it up to the backyard and provide a more casual feeling

The curved lines of this patio open it up to the backyard and provide a more casual feeling

Small, low to the ground patios may look simple enough; can’t I just place the pavers on the ground? Trust the professional patio builders, there is more to it than you think. The author of the article, Bob Tedeschi, can attest to that. The witty article explains how something that looks so simple can, in reality, take days to complete. Here’s his explanation of the help you may need:

“… Get a multitude of muscle, spread out over at least two bodybuilder friends who owe you a huge favor. Ideally, one of those friends will own a truck and the other will own a skid-steer machine, like a Bobcat. If not, you should consider renting one of those, or finding more friends to help carry the load.” Source.

A beautiful paver patio can be a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy time with friends and family, but a lot of work goes into creating that space. First off the area for the patio needs to be dug out and leveled. This involves digging up any grass that is currently in the place and creating an even space to start with. This can be a tedious task on properties that have any type of slant or slope, but it is incredible important. If you don’t start with level ground, your patio won’t be level either.

After preparing the ground, base layers of gravel and sand are placed on top. Each layer has to be level too. The base keeps the pavers from moving around and allows water to flow through the base without pooling on your patio’s surface.

When all of that is done, pavers can now be placed and secured, creating a lovely patio. Concrete or polymeric sand are just two of the options to lock everything in position.

If you are considering adding a patio to your property, save yourself the time and hassle and hire a professional patio designer and builder. Not only will they do all the dirty work, but they will also work with you to design and create a space you’ll love for years to come.

Reducing Pollutants with Permeable Pavers

Storm water carries pollutants into drainage systems and can cause flooding.

Storm water carries pollutants into drainage systems and can cause flooding.

Summer. It can bring both beautiful weather and harsh thunderstorms and rains. Have you ever been outside after a long or hard rain and noticed the water along the sides of the streets going to the drain? Or worse yet, have you driven through puddles and splash water everywhere? That water carries harsh pollutants like oil and grease into our drainage systems. A newer paving system gaining traction in the U.S. cuts down on that storm water: permeable pavements and pavers.

Permeable pavements and pavers don’t push the water to the side like traditional asphalt or concrete pavement. Instead, they allow storm water to go through the pavements and into the ground below. It’s growing in popularity in the U.S. after being widely used in Europe due to its low-impact benefits.

Miles Chaffee, President and founder of Milestone imports explains: “it decreases impervious land coverage, provides a more stable load-bearing surface, and allows the water to go into the ground. It eliminates the need for detention ponds, which require additional space. And it takes off a lot of stress from the sewer systems when it’s done correctly.” Source.

Permeable pavers and pavements are not for high-speed traffic areas, but are great for driveways, walkways, patios, alleys and parking lots. The pavers sit on top of several inches of different types of base (sands and stones) that allow the water to pass through easily, eliminating any puddles on the surface of the structure.

Permeable paving not only controls pollutants and manages runoff, but it also can help bring more color to a city or town. By allowing the water to seep into the ground, it gives trees around the area more water to mature their root system and grow effectively.

While cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Portland and Richmond are using permeable pavements to handle their storm rain issues, it isn’t only for municipalities. Permeable pavers are wonderful for residential properties as well. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we’ve designed and installed permeable paver patios, driveways and walkways. Not only are they more aesthetically pleasing than normal asphalt, but it can aid in landscaping and minimize standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

If you have questions on permeable paving and its benefits to your property, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

A Deck Replacement and Patio to Increase Outdoor Living Space

As time goes on and changes, so may your outdoor living needs. What may have been the perfect space for you and your family 5 to 10 years ago, may not work for you now. This project from Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad is a great example of updating an outdoor living space to work better for the homeowners.

Image (24)beforeThe owners of this North Carolina home had an existing elevated deck off the back of the house. It was large enough at the time for how they used the space, but it was in need of some updating. When it came time to replace the deck, they wanted to change the layout of the space to fit their current needs better.

When designing what turned out to be a deck and patio combination project, the homeowners asked for more outdoor living space, but they didn’t necessarily want a larger deck area. John Mallard of Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad designed a deck replacement and patio addition that would provide the space the family required and look beautiful.

0001314The stairs on the existing deck were placed in the middle of the space. Not only did that break it up, but it didn’t allow for much space below it without taking up more of the yard. It was dead space. By moving the stairs to the side of the deck, it not only provided space needed below, but it also opened up the deck.

Down the stairs, a large curved patio was installed, connecting the area below the deck to the yard. Instead of using the same iron railings that were installed on the deck, John suggested having a retaining wall around the curved edge. Not only would it look beautiful (which it does), but it would also provide additional seating as needed when the family entertains.

100_0254Outdoor lighting was also added to the patio to ensure that it can be used night and day.

This space works much better for the family now that it is updated. They have all the outdoor living space they need to host friends and family all throughout the summer. The new deck and patio design is also much more open than it was before, allowing the homeowners to enjoy their yard.

If you have ideas or questions on how to improve and enhance your outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Reworking an Outdoor Living Space to Fit your Needs

From decks and porches to patios and sunrooms, outdoor living spaces are not one size fits all. What functions and works well for one homeowner may not be perfect for another.

deck-builder-chicagoWhen I initially saw this project from our patio and deck builder in Chicagoland, I thought the before picture was a pretty nice space. Seen in the picture to the right, the deck was large spanning across the width of the house, but it didn’t work for the homeowners. It wasn’t their taste and didn’t function as well as they believed it could.

The homeowners wanted to replace the existing deck with a patio. For how they envisioned the space working, they felt that a patio would work and look better than a deck. Luckily they worked with Kristen Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland to design their new space and the end result was just what they were looking for.

The owners of this home enjoy entertaining and wanted space for cooking, dining and relaxing. Kristen created a unique patio design with multiple layers, materials and shapes give the clients exactly what they wanted.

The top level of the patio is where the family does their cooking. The grill is here and it has easy access to the kitchen doors. Access to the indoors is an important piece of outdoor design; it has to flow. Having the grill, for instance, on the opposite side of the space than the kitchen door would make it more cumbersome to use.

patio-builder2My favorite area of the space is down two steps from the grill, where there is a bar area with outdoor stools. It’s the perfect place to eat or just sit and have a drink with friends and family. The curved space makes it special and it overlooks their beautiful property. You can see how the curved perimeter is mirrored on the materials on the base of the patio. A darker paver was used set this particular area apart from the rest of the space.

patio-builderBeyond the bar area is an open space that can be used for just about anything. Right now the homeowners are using it as an additional place for dining outdoors.  In this area, you can really see why the homeowners wanted a patio instead of a deck. By keeping the space level with the ground no railings were needed and it opens up seamlessly to the beautiful yard!

patio-design-ChicagoAnd if you take a step back and look at the project as a whole, you really can see that this space is a step up from the previous deck. It complements the home’s finishes instead of looking like an afterthought. It’s a wonderful space and wonderful patio design from Archadeck of Chicagoland!

If you have questions on enhancing your outdoor living space to work better for you, please contact your local Archadeck office. One of our trained designers and builders can surely help!

Building a patio – so much more than you see

Working at Archadeck Outdoor Living, I’ve seen some beautiful patios, walkways, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces and other hardscaped areas over the years that our offices have designed and built. The beauty of the finished product can be misleading however. At its surface, the patio looks gorgeous, but what lies below is what keeps it looking that way in the long run.

Building a patio that will hold its shape and structure is more difficult than the looks of it show.

The first step is to prepare the ground for the patio. This includes grading and digging footings. Grading is the process of leveling the ground. If the ground isn’t properly graded, it will lead to an uneven outdoor living space. Grading may include removing or adding more dirt to the space and packing it down until it is firm and even.

Digging footings is necessary to keep your outdoor living space safe and sound

Digging footings is necessary to keep your outdoor living space safe and sound

If the patio is a simple patio, footings may not be required while preparing for the build, but if you are adding something with extra weight, like an outdoor kitchen or outdoor fireplace, footings need to be created. Footings are essentially bases for extra large structures. For this example, let’s use an outdoor fireplace. Due to its weight, it needs more support from below. A large hole is dug underneath where the fireplace will ultimately sit. That hole is filled with concrete that, when hard, will be able to hold up the outdoor fireplace for years to come.

After the footings are dug and the ground is leveled, the layers begin. The first layer that is placed on the ground is called base stone. Base stone is key to keeping the patio level over time and seasonal changes. Once the stone is laid in place, it is then impacted down. Like the dirt below it, the base stone will be leveled.

After the base is all set and in place, sand is spread and leveled on top of it. Sand is a helpful as the pavers are placed down on top of it as it helps to keep it all in place before everything is locked in tightly.

Laying pavers can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. It just depends on how intricate you want the design of it to be. At Archadeck, we’ve done some that are simple rows and others with circular or curved patterns.

Patio, deck and sunroom comboOnce everything is in place, it has to be secured. Along the sides of the patio, there will be an edging materials that digs into the ground. It works as a barrier for the pavers. The most common way to lock your paver patio in place is to use polymeric sand. This sand is spread and swept on the surface of the patio, working it’s way into all the nooks and crannies of the entire space. Then it will be exposed to water. When it gets wet, the sand will harden, similar to concrete.

As you can see, building a patio is much more difficult than simply picking out a stone that you like. At Archadeck, we take great pride in our work and take the time to do it all correctly so you can enjoy the space for years to come.

If you have any questions on designing or building custom patios, please contact your local Archadeck office.