Design Tips to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living Space

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we love creating the perfect outdoor living spaces for our clients. Not only are no two clients a like, but there are no two properties that are exactly alike as well. Creating a beautiful and functional patio or deck design is something our Archadeck teams take great pride in. If you’re looking to enhance your outdoor living spaces, here are a few things to consider:

1.) Your home’s overall architecture. Any great porch, patio or deck design fits seamlessly into the overall look and feel of your home. For instance, a traditional colonial house would look silly with a deck with ultra-modern lines. The shape, structure and finishes of the structure should complement the existing architecture.

deck-design-idea2.) The finishes of the home. The finishes of your home should play a role in choosing the materials and finishes of your deck or patio. For example, take a look at this deck. You can how the vertical deck boards and skirting are the same color as the window frames of the house. We at Archadeck always look to make sure our material choices work with the home. For instance, this same space would look overwhelming with a brick patio with the brick house.

3.) The grade and size of the property. The property itself will play a major role in the design and construction of any outdoor living space, especially for properties on a hill or slope. The size also plays a role, smaller yards call for smaller or smarter design. For those properties that do have a slope, we may need to adjust our recommendations based on the cost or complexity of install. Decks, for instance, are much better for elevated spaces.

Archadeck 20124.) Function is everything. At the end of the day, if a space, be is a deck, porch, patio, sunroom or combination there of, doesn’t work for its intend used, it will not be used much. During your design consultation with Archadeck, you’ll be asked how you would like to use your yard, entertaining, dining, reading, cooking, etc. With its use in mind, your designer can create a space with a form and flow to fit the function. For example, this combination project called for both sun and shade with plenty of room to entertain friends and family.

If you’re interested in a new design for your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

 

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.

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.

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.

Multipurpose Deck Design

At Archadeck, our goal is to create custom deck designs that work for our clients. That’s why every space is different. No two clients and homes are exactly alike, thus no two decks are the same.

Our Archadeck of Suburban Boston location recently completed a job that is a great example of a multipurpose deck. Their clients wanted an enhanced outdoor living space that would be used in multiple ways. They wanted a space for an outdoor dining table and space for an outdoor living room. Additionally, they wanted an area for their hot tub and wanted it all open to the yard to account for their kids.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyJim Finlay of Archadeck of Suburban Boston designed a deck that would span the width of the house with two distinct areas. On one side there is the entertaining space that has the outdoor living room furniture. Jim decided to incorporate the hot tub into this part of the deck. That way, people who are enjoying the hot tub can still talk with those that aren’t.  To keep communication easy, the hot tub was not installed on the deck, but below. That way the people inside the hot tub are not above those that are outside of it, but right at eye level.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyOn the other side of the space there is a large open area that has enough room for the outdoor dining room the family wanted. With a deck this large, defining the distinct areas of the space can be a concern. While there are numerous ways to achieve the goal, the Archadeck team used the decking boards to do it. Take a look at this image of the dining space.  The boards were installed at an angle. Then you will see a board going straight out from the house. This is a subtle way to block of the “dining” space from the “living” space.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyTo keep it open, the deck was designed without railings throughout the majority of the space. The deck is low-to-grade which means that it isn’t very high off the ground. Low-to-grade patios and decks are not required to have railings by law. This is a great option for homeowners who want the space to be open to the yard and have a home that doesn’t need a raised deck. Built in benches do act as a railing in a few areas while providing additional seating. The picture to the right shows how open the space is with the lack of railings. People on the deck can see out in the yard and vice versa. On another note, how smart was the slide idea for the kids to get down from the raised yard?

If you have questions on patio or deck design, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our deck contractors are sure to help answer all your questions.

What to Invest in and what to DIY in your Outdoor Living Space

The best outdoor living spaces provide for just that, living outdoors. But with home and property obligations, it can be too expensive to have the best of everything from the beginning. We’re often asked what to invest in and what you can wait to save for. Well, here are thoughts and some ideas to make your space look fantastic without spending the big bucks.

When it comes to saving your dollars and investing in the outdoor spaces of your home, you definitely want to invest in the actual structure. While you can switch out furnishing relatively easily, you can’t do that with a deck, porch, patio, screened in porch or sunroom. You also want to know that whatever you have is built to code and will last for years.

If you are looking to add on smaller structures, like an outdoor kitchen, fire pit or fireplace, this is something we also suggest investing in because it will add value to the space and be there for a long time. Anything this isn’t mobile, we suggest investing in.

In terms of furnishings, this is where you can save in some areas and spend in others. If you are going to spend over a few hundred dollars, make sure that you absolutely love it and it will last. When my husband and I were looking for a new outdoor dining table, for instance, we set a threshold. We said if we were going to go over $XXX dollars, it had to be great quality and something we both loved. Below that, we could consider purchasing knowing that we may upgrade in a few years.

The smaller items in your outdoor living space are great places to save and create some easy Do it Yourself pieces. Here are some ideas that are cost effective, but also chic…

iStock_000004874324XSmallPlant it in something unique. Anyone can go into a home improvement store, buy some planters or pots and plant some flowers in it. Some homeowners however may want something a little more special. Look for things that can function as a planter, but have some visual interest. My aunt has a birdbath on her property that she didn’t want birds in (too many mosquitoes) but was too beautiful to get rid of, so she planted some herbs in it. I’ve also seen people plant in old wheelbarrows like this one.

Don’t forget about the pots. Just because planting in a terracotta pot may be predictable, doesn’t mean you can’t use them in your space. They are great bases for side tables. You can either flip it upside-down and place a piece of Plexiglas on top or sit it upright and do the same thing. If you keep it upright, you can also add something special in it, like shells or sea glass. Pots are also great ways to add color into the space. They not only are available in fun colors, but they are easily updated with spray paint.

Keep those pallets. Old wooden pallets are as multipurpose as they get. They can be used in so many different ways. Using a pallet as the top of an outdoor coffee table is just one idea. You can sand and stain it or paint it any color you want. They are a great option that fulfills the purpose and looks great while you find something that you love.

Think about it before you throw it away. Just because something wasn’t initially purchased for the outside of the home doesn’t mean it can’t end up there (this isn’t the case with all things). Take an old bureau or bookcase for example. If you treat it with an outdoor protectant to ensure it doesn’t rot, it could work incredibly well in a covered outdoor area, like a porch. An outdoor wet bar perhaps?

A gorgeous outdoor living space is normally a mixture of some “investment” pieces and some quick finds. The more important thing is that at the end of the day, you love it. If you have any questions, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living 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.

We Have an Outdoor Fireplace!

S’mores anyone?

It’s week two of our patio and deck build here at the Archadeck Outdoor Living corporate office and a lot of work has been done. The once grassy patch to the left of our building is now a construction site with bulldozers, dirt, sand and holes! Continue reading

2013 Outdoor Living Trends

As Spring is just around the corner, it is time to look at what is hot in the outdoor living category for 2013. Every year we at Archadeck Outdoor Living find our clients asking for different finishes or types of projects that would enhance their outdoor living spaces. The America Society of Landscape Architects, or ASLA, recently released survey results on what is hot for this year. Here are some of the highest ranked projects:

outdoor-fireplace-charlotteNinety-seven percent of respondents rated fire pits or outdoor fireplaces as in demand. We’ve discussed the growing popularity in fire features over the last few years. As outdoor living spaces have evolved into true extensions of the home, we see that outdoor fireplaces are being added to include the homey feeling outdoors. Not to mention they allow homeowners to use the space well into the fall. Who doesn’t enjoy bundling up by the fire and enjoying s’mores or hot cocoa? I know I do.

Rated just under outdoor fireplaces and fire pits were grills. Grills have been popular additions to outdoor living spaces for years. When it comes to grills, and outdoor kitchens, the possibilities are endless, but they should also be planned for. We’ve all seen grills that are placed on a deck or patio but don’t really seem to have a place. Even if the grill isn’t built into the outdoor structure, make sure to tell your patio or deck builder to create a space for the grill. When it has a designated space, it increases the flow and design of the space.

porch_drapes1Third and fourth on the list were seating and dining areas and outdoor lighting. This doesn’t surprise us at all. For an outdoor living space to be an extension of the home and to be used, it has to have purpose. No one spends time in the empty rooms of their house, why would they outside? When considering adding a deck, porch, patio, sunroom, screened porch or other outdoor structure to your property, make sure you tell the designer how you intend to use the space. You may find that you want separate areas for different purposes: one place to sit and read a book and another to dine with friends and family. And, if you want to use the space after dark, add outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting can be added to outdoor living spaces at any time in most cases, but will be more seamless if you plan to add it while the project is being built.

The trends in outdoor living spaces do change, but as Nancy Somerville, ASLA’s executive vice president and CEO 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.”

If you are interested in enhancing your outdoor living spaces, contact your local Archadeck office.

ARCH_7117 Dream Backyard Makeover BlockAnd in case you’ve forgotten, it’s not to late to enter Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover Contest! The first set of finalists will be announced in just a few days. Make sure to submit a photo of your backyard and let us know why your yard deserves the $70,000 grand prize!

Patio Designs for Every Space

The common denominator to any great outdoor living space is a great design. A great design not only takes the clients wants, tastes and budget into account, but also the existing home and the property that it is being built on. When it comes to great patio designs, the opportunities are endless.

At Archadeck outdoor living, we have built over 100,000 outdoor living spaces, many of which have included a patio structure. Our designers take great pride in creating patios that are gorgeous and functional. There are several pieces to the design that they pay particular attention to:

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

Shape. Too many homes have the standard 5ft by 5ft concrete slab off the back of their home. What a waste! So much more can be created and built. Many of our clients want a space that has straight lines that mirror the lines of the home, while others want something different. Curving the edges of the patio is a different style that is just as nice. A softer line often creates a more fluid open feel to an outdoor space.

This patio is more natural looking with its flagstone finish

This patio is more natural looking with its flagstone finish

Material. A good patio design takes the existing property into account and enhances it. What the patio is made of is a key component. There are so many different styles of patio products that we are positive there is something for you. If you like a classic look, a brick or rectangular stone may work beautifully in your space. If you prefer a more natural look, there are natural stones, or products that look like natural stone that may hold up better. Stamped concrete is another popular product as it can be colored or stamped with numerous designs.

Switching up the pattern of the stone clearly defines the different areas of the patio

Switching up the pattern of the stone clearly defines the different areas of the patio

Layout. If an outdoor living space is going to be utilized for numerous purposes, it is important the different areas are defined. While this can be achieved with outdoor furniture, it can also be done through design. Adding multiple layers is one way to do this. One area may be used for cooking and eating that has an outdoor kitchen and dining table and two steps down there may be a living room set up with couches and chairs. Another way to define spaces is done through the installation of materials. A different finish may be used or the same product may be used but placed in the opposite direction.

I wouldn't mind huddling around this outdoor fireplace

I wouldn’t mind huddling around this outdoor fireplace

Lastly, a great patio design incorporates design features that are practical. Design features can take numerous forms including retaining walls, planters, benches, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits. It all depends on what the client wants. These finishing touches don’t always have to be part of the original build, but rather added later.

If you have questions about patio design, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.