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.

Warming up your Backyard for Fall

Happy Fall everyone! Welcome pumpkin spice everything, apples, football and changing leaves! I’m so excited to welcome autumn; it is my favorite season! Just because the weather gets cooler this time of year, doesn’t mean you should move indoors. Here are some tips to warm up your backyard from your outdoor living experts: Archadeck.

Fire features are one of our favorite outdoor structures and, not surprisingly, have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits easily become the center point of any outdoor living space and provide enough warmth to keep friends and family outside (not to mention great to roast s’mores in). At Archadeck, we design and build custom fire features that complement your existing outdoor structures.

If having a permanent feature on your property isn’t an option, but you’d still like to have an outdoor heating option, there are some choices. Propane fueled outdoor heaters are available in a number of sizes and can easily be added to or removed from a space very easily.

For some homeowners a fire feature or outdoor heater may be too much to add to their outdoor spaces, but you can still stay warm. Have a few warm blankets available for you and guests and you can still enjoy your backyard. Since it’s fall, look for blankets in warm reds, yellows and oranges.

When all else fails, have a warm drink for people to sip on outdoors on a cool night. It doesn’t need to be anything difficult, just delicious. Here’s a great apple cider recipe to enjoy:

What you’ll need:

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange
  • 2 T whole cloves
  • Rum (optional)

Poke holes around the oranges and poke cloves into the holes. Place the orange in a crock pot with the cider and cinnamon sticks. Cook on low for 4 hours. Add rum to each glass as desired.

Happy Fall!

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.

Gather Outside to Watch the Game this Fall

It’s nearly August which mean we are just a few short weeks away from the NFL and college football season. If you’re like me, you can be found in front of a TV on Saturdays and Sundays taking in all the action. But do you know what’s better than watching the game inside with some food and beverages? Watching it OUTSIDE with food and beverages. With the right outdoor living design you can invite friends and family over to enjoy the sporting events and movies!

Outdoor entertaining is a topic we discuss frequently with our clients. We are always interested to know what type of entertaining they do so we can create a spaced tailored to that purpose. When it comes to hosting sports and movie parties, there are a few items and design ideas that make it even more enjoyable.

Covered Porch in AustinSomething to watch the game on. You can’t watch the game without a screen of some sort, right? Technology has improved and evolved so much that there are a number of outdoor TVs on the market that work beautifully. When designing your deck, porch, or patio, however, you want to discuss with your designer where’d you like it. With the plan in place, cables can be run appropriately. If you aren’t interested in TV, there are also screen and projector options for you to consider!

Space. If you want to host friends and family, you need space for all of them to hang out and enjoy the evening outdoors. Let your porch, patio or deck designer know that you need ample room for everyone to view the screen without obstruction. If you like to have large parties, a 6 ft. x 6 ft. deck just won’t do!

A fire feature. The best games are often played in primetime and in the fall (and winter in playoffs) that can result in some cooler temperatures outside. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit is a great way to enjoy all the action outdoors comfortably (and maybe with s’mores!). If you want the area to really feel like a room, placing the TV above the fireplace works wonders!

outdoor-kitchen-porchFood. What’s a football game or movie without snacks? While your contractor may not be there to help you at kickoff, we can help you now! Here’s an easy recipe for delicious queso for your next party!

When you’re ready to have the ultimate viewing space in your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living 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.

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.

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.