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.

 

A Contractor for your Outdoor Living Space

One of the most important decisions when building a new outdoor living space is choosing the right contractor. There are so many factors to deciding who is a reputable company and who will leave you unsatisfied. The following tips will give you the peace of mind that you’ve chosen the right contractor for your project.

deck-design-boston1. Think Local

Choose a company with an established reputation in your area. Only someone who has built decks, porches, and outdoor living spaces in our community will have the local knowledge you need to ensure that your project is beautiful and functional. A local expert will know what types of weatherproofing your deck will need, implement the right treatments, and plan for protecting appliances in your particular climate.

2. Visit their Business

Don’t just meet with the contractor at your home, go to their place of business too if possible. Again, this lets you see yourself that this contractor is an established local business that is here and here to stay.

3. See the Work

Take time to personally inspect three or four projects the contractor has done near your home. Doing so will let you have full confidence that a specific contractor knows the local building codes and the landscape of the area. Seeing projects a company built and talking to several references is the only way to know for sure that other homeowners have had a good experience with a contractor. Reading online testimonials and reviews is another good way to see what others think of the contractor.

Hawkinsville-GA-round-deck-Archadeck14. Verify their Level of Expertise

Especially if you’re considering an alternative design or elevation, you want to be sure your prospective contractor has considerable experience with multi-level decks, built-in outdoor kitchens, fire features, and the latest outdoor lighting systems. By looking at examples of their work, you can also see if a contractor has experience with the type of materials you’re considering for your project.

5. Check Regulations

Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure a contractor meets all government requirements.

6. Investigate Possible Complaints

Check with the government Consumer Affairs Offices and the Better Business Bureau to ensure they don’t have adverse files on record for the contractor.

By following these six steps, your are more likely to find a deck contractor that will leave you with the outdoor space of your dreams.

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.

Third Place Dream Backyard Makeover Winner Receives New Lighting Package

It’s been nearly a month since the winners of the Dream Backyard Contest wrapped up. While the first and second place winners are currently having their new outdoor structures designed by the respective Archadeck Outdoor Living  offices, the third place winner is already enjoying his prize: an outdoor lighting system from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives is our sister company who designs and installs residential, commercial and holiday outdoor lighting. They were gracious enough to offer up an outdoor lighting system (a $3,000 value!) to our third place winner. Our third place winner, William Jakes, is located in the Columbia, South Carolina area and had an unfortunate experience when trying to update his backyard:

“We hired a contractor to rebuild our deck and he did about half the work and abandoned the work site. After inspection, we found out that nothing was to code and he did not have a contractor’s license. This was part of our retirement savings and now we will have to wait until we can save up the money to have the deck torn down and rebuilt.”

lighting-winnerWilliam’s story is all too familiar and something we heard over and over again the contest submissions, people left stranded by deck contractors mid-way through a job to find out that they weren’t a reputable company. We were thrilled to award the Jakes family with a lighting system to enhance their home and sent Kenny Kaufman of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Columbia to the house to design and install a system. Understandingly, William decided to have the system installed in his front yard as opposed to his backyard (he didn’t want to install lighting on a space that doesn’t get any use right now due to unsafe conditions).

The Outdoor Lighting Perspectives team installed architectural and landscape lighting around the front of the home. The house itself had some interesting textures with its siding that Kenny wanted to highlphoto 2ight using well lights that shine up on the house. Column lighting was added to the porch columns to accentuate the covered porch structure and to allow some additional lighting on the porch as well. In front of the porch, there is a paver patio that didn’t have adequate lighting for family and friends. Copper path lights were installed in the surrounding planters to light the patio.

It not only looks great, but William and his wife are thrilled with the results. Here’s an email we received from him last week…

columbia-outdoor-lighting“I cannot express the excitement we had in winning 3rd place in a national contest. It was fantastic and the lighting is unbelievable. Since it was installed, we have stayed up at night to watch the lights. It really showcases our house. Also, I want to that your company and Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Columbia, especially Kenny Kaufman. They were very professional and have restored my faith in having work done on our house. I just wish there were more professional companies with your work ethic.”

We are so happy that the Jakes are happy with their lighting system and can’t wait to see the next steps for the grand prize winners as well as the second place winners. Our Archadeck Outdoor Living owners are currently designing the winners’ new backyards and then permitting and building will begin!

If you have questions on how to enhance your outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Whether it’s a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other structure, our locations are trained to design and build custom projects that fit your property, tastes, needs and budget.

The direction of the stairs is huge!

Stairway direction change by Harold Cross of Archadeck of Des Moines

Stairway direction change by Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa

The direction of the stairs on your elevated porch or deck is a huge consideration and one that we put a tremendous amount of emphasis on when in the design process with our homeowners. Partly we do this because we realize how important it is but also because of feedback from customers who tell us what a big difference it made to have their stairs pointing toward the area where they would be congregating.

If you look at the photo above, the original stair case emptied out into the side of the yard near the fence. This one was a double whammy because the very long stair case was an eye sore from the back yard. By directing the stairs to have a landing and empty out into the living area of the back yard, it made it easier to carry food and other items to their patio, made access easier and better to the back yard and looked a whole heck of a lot better.

As a mother of 3 children, I often tell my children about ergonomic design as we endlessly try to improve the organizational systems that will lead to a cleaner house. So I tell them things like…

  • Put the spices you use the most on the lower shelf or in the front
  • Put the book you’re currently reading on your night table and keep the other ones in a book shelf
  • Create an approved” place to store your back pack near the door

Here are some examples of stairways that direct the homeowners to the living area instead of into the side yard or away from the living area.

Archadeck of Austin stair re-direction

Archadeck of Austin stair re-direction

The example above was designed by Noelalee Ragle of Archadeck of Austin. Click here to read more about this job. The existing deck had stairs that emptied out into the fence. The new deck incorporated a landing so the stairs emptied right out into the living area.

Elevated lakehouse deck with bi-directional stairs by Archadeck of Northeast Indiana

Elevated lakehouse deck with bi-directional stairs by Archadeck of Northeast Indiana

The deck above was built by Baron Biedenweg of Archadeck of Northeastern Indiana. In this photo, you can see the bi-directional stairs being used on this house to direct traffic into the patio area under the deck and toward the water at this lake house. The view from the lake is also much enhanced by focusing attention on the deck instead of on a very long staircase.

If you’re building an elevated area at your home or even a relatively low outdoor living area, think about where the stairs empty out. Think about carrying food out the door and down the stairs and how far you’ll need to walk after exiting the stairs.

It’s not too early to start planning your outdoor living space for next year!! Call an Archadeck office near you now and ask for a design consultation.