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.

What are the Top Outdoor Living Trends in 2014?

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyGone are the days of lawn chairs on a concrete slab in the backyard, in are the days of beautiful outdoor living spaces. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recently released the results to their annual Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. Each year, the ASLA surveys residential landscape architects about what aspects of outdoor living will be big for 2014. I must say, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living aren’t that surprised, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t excited by them!

The survey is lumped into different categories. Number two in the Outdoor Design Elements in category is outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces, etc). 92% of the surveyed landscape architects said that outdoor living spaces will be popular or somewhat popular in 2014. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we’ve been building custom outdoor structures since 1980, but we’ve seen an evolution of what that means in the last 5 to 10 years. What once was thought of just a simple deck is now considered an outdoor living space that serves a particular purpose.

More specific is the Outdoor Living Features category of the survey. The ones that we are often asked about the most are seating and dining areas (97.7%), fire pits and fireplaces (95.4%), grills (94.3%), and installed seating (89.6%). Not surprisingly, this goes well with outdoor living spaces, as to have a useful space it has to fulfill a need. The features are what make them living areas and not just a structure.

Nancy Somerville, ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO explains the interest in outdoor living: “Homeowners known that designed landscapes add value to their lives as well as their property values…They’re interested in livable, open spaces that are both stylish and earth friendly.” Source.

When designing a structure for a client, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living talk to the homeowner about the way the space will be used and how they envision it flowing. With the goals in mind, we can create a patio or deck design complete with the features to make the backyard of the client’s dreams.

If you have any questions on designing outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Trends in Outdoor Living Ramp Up Comfort and Warmth

Home magazines, television shows and websites are showcasing outdoor living trends as never before. So it’s no wonder you’re itching to transform your old-school patio or cookie-cutter deck into an impressive and functional space. Start by looking at trends that fit your lifestyle and have the legs to make your home irresistible to future buyers. Here are some things to consider:

Seating Clusters

Tops in the comfort category are seating clusters. Thick, comfy cushions and strategically placed outdoor furniture arrangements can spark conversation and help build relationships with family and friends. Designers are big on outdoor furniture that brings people together, stands up to the elements and showcases personal style.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyFire it Up

Fire pits and fireplaces are still all the rage, adding both fashion and function. By night they create summer-camp ambiance from early spring right through the fall. A fireplace, paired with an outdoor television that has integrated speakers, adds a whole new dimension to game-day get-togethers.

Landscaping that Fits the Land

To give your outdoor living areas maximum appeal, choose an overall landscaping look that makes sense for your home, the weather and how busy you are. If you live in a dry desert climate, choose succulents that need minimal watering. If you’re retired, you may want to add a flower or raised-bed vegetable garden that becomes a favorite hobby. If you’re always on the run with work and your family’s schedule, don’t put in a complex landscape or garden that will need lots of maintenance.

287814661210_0_BGGet in the Cooking Zone

Goodbye grill, hello cooking zone. Whether you call it your outdoor summer kitchen like they do in chic, seaside resort communities, the trendiest outdoor living areas all have places to let your inner chef loose in the great outdoors. Just like gourmet indoor kitchens, your outdoor kitchen can be built with warming drawers, outdoor cooking stations with integrated storage, even a prep station and mini fridge, along with a more traditional gas grill. Newer amenities include a hybrid grill that lets you cook both gas and wood or charcoal.

Easy-Care Conveniences

Kitchen appliances, advanced deck materials and high-tech spas are making it easy to adapt new design trends into your great outdoors. But be careful not to overlook the big picture. Your primary goal is to enjoy your new outdoor living space, rather than spend money maintaining it. Always ask if products are low-maintenance and easy to take care of.

It’s always best to talk to your deck builder about how you intend to use the space to ensure your patio and deck design works well for you and your family. 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.

Deck and Patio Installation Begins at Archadeck Headquarters

Several weeks ago, we announced that we at Archadeck Outdoor Living’s corporate office are getting a new outdoor living area. We are thrilled to let you know that after some weather delays, we officially broke ground today!

To recap, up until now, our corporate office has been of void of any outdoor living structures (we know, it’s sad considering what we do). This year, we decided to change that and designed this custom deck and patio combination project. A large pergola will cover part of deck for shade and built in benches and retaining walls will provide places to sit throughout the space. Continue reading

Archadeck Outdoor Living Gets Dream Backyard of its Own

We at Archadeck Outdoor Living pride ourselves on being the experts in outdoor living structures. Whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other project, we design and build the backyards of our clients’ dreams. I hate to admit it, but despite being America’s oldest and largest deck builder, our corporate office’s outdoor living space is lacking. Actually, it doesn’t really exist right now, but we photoare thrilled to say that that will be changing soon!

Since we are currently in the middle of a $70,000 dream backyard makeover contest, we decided it was time to build our dream space too! Our corporate design staff of draftsmen have designed the perfect outdoor living space for our corporate offices that will soon be underway. I, of course, will be sharing photos and details of how it is coming throughout the process. To start, I want to show you what the plans look like.

OLB beforeAs you can see in the first 3D rendering and the photo, our corporate office’s property doesn’t look like a place the outdoor living experts work. We, along with the other companies that we share our building with, wanted a place to enjoy the outdoors when the weather permits. Since we would be the ones designing and building the space, we created a combination structure to show our corporate partners, franchisees and potential franchisees.

deck-patio-richmondThe first step in the process is to get permission from the building owners to make the significant enhancements to the property. Much like our system of porch, patio and deck builders do with their clients, our corporate team presented them with several options to consider. An outdoor living project is a significant investment and it’s important to us that our clients feel confident in their purchase when they sign a contract. To ensure that is the case, our design options are presented in 3D renderings that depict what the space will look like on their property. These renders have our entire office waiting impatiently for the space to be available.

patio-deck-richmondThese renderings show the final design that is currently with the county for permits. The project will consist of a new paver walkway that leads to an upper paver patio surrounded by seating walls and a fireplace. There will be two entrances off the patio to a 900 square foot composite deck loaded with benches throughout. Since Virginia can bring plenty of hot summer days, a large pergola will cover and shade a large part of the deck. On the far end of the deck there will be a set of stairs that lead to a lower paver patio with outdoor an outdoor kitchen (company cookouts, here we come!)

patio-deck-pergolaFor the detail-oriented, here are the specifications of the space: The deck will be a little over 900 square feet. In addition, it will have 105 linear feet of white, vinyl railings, 38 linear feet of composite bench, composite trim and solid board skirting. There will be a total of two pergolas, an entrance one, comprised of 34 square feet and the second one that covers part of the deck will be 484 square feet.

As for the paver component, the space will have a total of 1,020 total square feet of Belgard Holland Stone, 108 linear feet of seating wall and 4 stone columns. On the upper patio there will be a 9 foot wide fireplace and an outdoor kitchen on the lower patio.

We are all excited to build and enjoy the new outdoor living space. We are currently waiting for all of the local permits to go through before we break ground on the space. Sit tight for updates!

Happy Labor Day from Archadeck Outdoor Living

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the summer. Kids will be going back to school and the nights will start to get longer. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we don’t think the cool fall nights should force homeowners indoors. Instead cozy up around a custom fireplace or fire pit.

I grew up in a home where family time was spent around the fireplace. I loved it. As an adult, I had to have a fireplace when we were looking for a new home. And as we were looking to update our backyard, my first idea was to add a fire pit. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and finishes so they don’t look like an afterthought but a natural extension of the home.

Our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees design custom fireplaces and fire pits that are sure to enhance your outdoor living spaces. Do you need an edge around the pit for food and drinks? No problem. How about storage along the side of your fireplace for wood or accessories? You got it. Your outdoor project will be designed with you, your home, your tastes and your budget in mind. Take a look at some of these beautiful Archadeck fireplaces and fire pits:

If you are interested in learning more about custom fireplace and fire pits, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office

Outdoor Living Safety, it Doesn’t End at the Deck

Over the last few weeks there have been a few stories of deck collapses in the news where people were injured. We’ve talked about the importance of making sure your deck is safe to use, but safety in your outdoor living space doesn’t end at the deck.

A friend of mine spends a lot of time in his backyard doing projects. He’s cleaned up a lot of the dead trees and branches, cut back bushes and much more. After he removed a large tree, he decided to make a fire pit out of the stumps. For a while it was fine, but eventually the stumps burned up as well and parts of his yard were scorched that weren’t meant to be. Luckily no one was hurt and there haven’t been any more fires in the pit sense, but it did get me thinking about safety. Now I’m not DIYer, but I know a lot of people that really enjoy building things outdoors, but when building something you have to make sure that you are paying attention to local building codes, how you are going to use the space and what materials you are using.

Fire pits are one of the most commonly DIYed projects in outdoors. They’re small, so they must be easy to build, right? Wrong. Not all materials that people think would be fine for a fire pit are. You have to make sure you are getting the right type of stone, the right type of concrete, etc. Make sure that you talk to a professional about the best course of action to taking on that project.

Outdoor fireplaces, like indoor fireplaces, needs to be inspected from time to time to ensure their safety. Soot can build up in the flu and create blockages for the smoke.  Also, because they are outdoors year round, they can be affected by the elements. Make sure you are checking for wear periodically.

Patios, walkways and retaining walls also need to be checked for safety periodically. People are constantly stepping on the edges of hardscapes (and sometimes sit on retaining walls). If the project is older some of the pavers or stones may become loose. If one slips when someone is on it, it can result in injury.

If you have any questions regarding the safety of your outdoor living areas, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. We will come out and check it to see what changes you need to make now and help you plan for future changes and upgrades.

Archadeck uses creative hardscaping to build functionality and style into our designs

Belgard hardscape seating wall incorporated into surround

Belgard hardscape seating wall incorporated into surround of this retaining wall

When thinking about building a memorable hardscape such as a patio, outdoor fire pit or outdoor fireplace or even an outdoor kitchen, it is the details and subtle nuances present in the design that make it a cut above the rest. Seeking areas to add design oriented touches and beauty can not only make your hardscape a pleasure to look at, but sometimes adding these touches can also add to the functionality of your structure as well.

Hardscape seating area by Belgard

This hardscape seating area is an ingenious and beautiful addition to your fire pits enjoyment

We like to call these nuances and design details, creative hardscaping. Thinking outside the  box when it comes to creating a backyard hardscape takes experience, and design expertise.  One example of creative hardscaping is creating a seating or relaxation area with little more than an idea and additional hardscape material. For example, you can create a seating area to complement an outdoor fireplace or fire pit by incorporating a roomy hardscape ledge or hardscape bench seating. With this added seating area, there is no longer a need to bring in outdoor furniture for a place to sit while the fire pit is in use.

Hardscape sandbox and play area by Belgard

The little ones in your family would enjoy a modernized "sandbox" area like this one shown incorporated into your hardscape patio design

Using hardscape materials in an innovative manner is not exclusive to fire pit designs. There are endless possibilities of ways to use hardscapes to enrich and expand  your outdoor living enjoyment through design. A simple patio can become a place of enchantment for a child by extending the patio area to include an area that shines new light onto the typical playful sandbox of yesteryear. An outdoor kitchen and grilling area becomes an outdoor bar perfect for entertaining with just a little imagination.

Belgard hardscape bar area

Have a round of style, with a custom hardscape bar area designed to compliment your outdoor kitchen or grilling area

If you are planning an outdoor structure with hardscapes in your near future, contact Archadeck to plan, design and build a hardscape that uses the art of creative hardscaping in each and every design. Not only will you be the envy of the neighborhood, but the functionality it will add to your backyard enjoyment will astound you as well.  To find an Archadeck location close to home visit our locations list, located on our website.

See more stunning hardscape designs by visiting our patio and hardscapes gallery also located on our website.