Christmas Gifts for the Outdoor Living Lover

At Archadeck Outdoor Living we are all about enhancing your enjoyment of your outdoor living spaces. We take great pride in designing and building custom decks, porches, patios, sunrooms and more that our clients enjoy frequently.

With the holiday season just beginning, we wanted to offer some outdoor living gift ideas that any outdoor lover would enjoy. Hopefully one of these ideas will help you with someone on your gift list.

A great rug instantly transforms an outdoor structure into an outdoor living or dining room. The key is to make sure that it is outdoor-friendly and will stand up to the elements. When buying for someone else, think about some of the other items they have in the space, or their general design aesthetic, to find someone that complements the space. Outdoor rugs have come a long way with regards to design. To get you started, here are some that Frontgate currently offers.

If you have a chef on your list, consider some outdoor cooking tools as a gift. A nice grill set is something that they can use all year round. When looking at grill sets, there are a few items that will make outdoor cooking easier: a spatula, tongs, a knife, and a grill brush. The number one thing to check is that it is metal and won’t melt over the hot grill.

Color is important to any indoor or outdoor space. Think about ways to add a pop of color to an outdoor area. From a beautifully painted planter, like this one from Plow & Hearth, to a side table or pillow, any color will bring life and personality onto an outdoor structure.

For those that entertain a lot outdoors, think about ways to make their get-togethers easier. A beverage cooler of some sort keeps the party outdoors when people don’t have to go in and out to grab cold drinks from the refrigerator. Coolers are available in a variety of styles, price-points and sizes. For example, my mother has a beautiful stainless steel tub, while my brother has a wooden cooler that has a top that opens for ice.

A friend of mine hosts loves to have people over to tailgate and watch football. Last year his wife bought him an outdoor television so he wouldn’t have to carry their living room TV in and out of their open porch. Make sure the TV is weatherproof. Two companies to look into are Sunbrite and Skyvue.

From games to grills, an outdoor living gift is sure to be a hit with your friends or family. If you are looking for something a little more permanent, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Whether a shade structure like a pergola or arbor is best, or possible a fire pit, it is sure to please.

Defining Spaces in Outdoor Rooms

When I was little the idea of outdoor living didn’t mean the same as it does today. Back then it was a deck or patio off the back of the house were you put some basic outdoor friendly chairs to sit and enjoy a drink before dinner. My how things have changed. Outdoor living now is about truly living outdoors. From outdoor living rooms to a place to cook and eat dinner outside, outdoor spaces have come a long way.

Creating rooms outdoors is all about you and how you intend to use the space. Defining the space is one way to make it feel like a real room.  When creating a patio or deck design, this is something that we at Archadeck consider. Here are some popular ways of creating definition and separation for an outdoor room.

deck-design-ideasShape and structure. Shape and structure are the foundation of any outdoor living space, but they are also the first thing to consider when defining different sections of a space. For example, imagine you want areas for both lounging and dining in your backyard. There are much more interesting ways to accomplish that than by having a simple rectangular deck on the back of your home. Maybe the space has a deck for an outdoor living set and then it leads to a patio for dining. Or, take this dining area for example, it has its own nook in a different shape off this deck.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyPrivacy fences and railings. Indoors it is often walls that set one room apart from another. Well, the outdoors version of walls is privacy fences and railings. They are a great way to designate different areas of a room. Also, privacy fences help to make an outdoor space really feel like a room. Take this deck for example, the lattice privacy screens around the space make it feel like a cozy place to sit back and enjoy friends and family.

Pergolas. Pergolas are one of my favorite outdoor structures. Not only are they visually interesting, but they also a great option if you’re looking for a shade structure or a way to add definition to your space. Roof structures like porches and sunrooms are wonderful, but they can be pricy. Pergolas, in some instances, can play a similar role as a roof structure by defining a space, as seen in the image above.

Material. One of the easiest ways to break up an outdoor living space is to work with the material of the space. We’ve had franchisees change the color of deck boards throughout a space, or use different materials all together to create transitions. If you only want to use one material, for instance decking, you can still create different areas. Ask your deck builder to lay the boards in different directions.

If you have questions on how to create the best outdoor living space for you and your needs, please reach out to your local Archadeck 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.

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!

Outdoor Fireplaces: Some Design and Practical Considerations

Outdoor fireplaces are a great gathering space for friends and family. Available in a wide range of styles (for a wide range of budgets), the type of outdoor fireplace you choose for your home shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take time to consider what works best for your home and you’ll enjoy not only your time around the fireplace, but also a return on investment when it’s time to sell your home.

low to grad patio CharlotteDesign Considerations

A beautiful, modern design may include a concrete fireplace with a concrete bench attached. It’s stunning on the pages of the magazine. But, it doesn’t fit the style of your country home in the Midwest. So how do you know what works best for your home?

  • Identify the style of your home. Friends or family may know, or you can browse the Internet for this information.
  • Look at your design elements you utilize. The types of items you choose in your home will also appeal to you outside your home.
  • Browse the Internet and the pages of your favorite design magazines to find styles that appeal to you. Even if you can’t have that exact fireplace, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of fireplace you want.

Practical Considerations

The perfect outdoor fireplace may need some adaptation so it’s the perfect outdoor fireplace for your backyard. Look at your options practically so you know the fireplace you choose is the best option.

Zoning Regulations

Outdoor fireplaces are not allowed in every neighborhood. Check with city officials to find out if you can obtain a permit to install an outdoor fireplace.

Weather

Materials you choose for your fireplace should stand up to your climate. If you live in an area with ample rainfall, the materials you’re able to choose from will be different from areas with desert-like climates.

Outdoor fireplace on travertine

Outdoor fireplace on travertine

Sun

Consider the area where you will install your fireplace and make sure the setting sun doesn’t blind you when you gather around it.

Safety

Sparks generated by the fireplace should not be able to reach power lines or trees. It’s also important to keep a fire extinguisher nearby. An outdoor fireplace can also bring the most elaborate deck ideas to life, but be sure to choose materials that can sufficiently contain the flames and keep your deck out of harm’s way.

Space

A small yard may not accommodate a large fireplace. Alternately, if you have a large space, you need a fireplace that looks proportional.

With a little planning, and a lot of dialogue with a great contractor like Archadeck, you’re sure to enjoy an outdoor fireplace that’s both enjoyable for your family and a good investment for your home.

Invite Friends and Family Outside with an Outdoor Structure

Archadeck of Augusta’s manager, Tom Leonard was recently interviewed by Columbia County Magazine. While the piece focused on gazebos, pergolas, ramadas and arbors, it was Tom’s quotes that stood out to me; “outdoor structures are a way of drawing people into the yard…they might offer people a different view of their yard or give them a reason to use a certain part of their yard.”

Covered Porch in AustinI couldn’t agree more with this notion. Friends of mine bought a home with a large back yard last year. They bought it in large part due to the yard’s size. They saw the potential, but when they bought it, there wasn’t much to the outdoor space. They would host get-togethers where some drinks and food would be outside, but their guests were always indoors. The reason? Besides the food there wasn’t an inviting space outdoors that you would want to sit down and relax in, just grass and dirt. Gradually, our friends have updated their outdoor living space with a large patio off the back of the house that’s perfect for al fresco dining and a fire pit further in the yard. Now when they have people over, their guests are on the patio, out towards the fire pit and everywhere in between. No one is ever inside.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we view decks, porches, patios and other projects as more than just structures. They are outdoor living spaces that increase your home’s useable space. When designing a space, “homeowners need to look at the function” of their outdoor living space, says Leonard. Is it a dining area, living area or just a place for you to curl up and read a book? Whatever the function, the size, structure and layout of the space has to mirror its primary use. If completed well, you will want to spend time in it.

A few years ago I visited one of Archadeck of Central Virginia’s clients. They had this beautiful porch off the back of the house which led down to a nice deck. The size of the porch was perfect. Just big enough for an outdoor couch, chairs and space to move around. Sheer curtains were added to the backside of the porch for added privacy as well. Their goal in building the space was to have a homey area outside where they could host friends and family. Trust me, if I was visiting that home, I would want to sit on that porch. And while sitting there, I could take in the beauty of the property (this particular homeowner had quite the garden).

If you are researching the best way to enhance your outdoor living space, take a look at the Archadeck Design Guide. It will ask you all the important questions for you to consider while you are in the planning and designing phase.

Outdoor Dining Rooms – the Perfect Place to Host Friends and Family

This past Tuesday I got together with a bunch of my girlfriends for dinner. It had been a while since we were all in the same place at the same time, and we decided to take advantage. We all went over to my friend Kerri’s house where we prepared the food together while nibbling on appetizers and sipping on some cocktails. It was a great time until I realized, there really wasn’t a whole lot of room in her dining room for all of us. Just when I was about to say something, Kerri ushered us outside.

Off the back side of their house, Kerri and her husband have small deck that is set up perfectly for outdoor entertaining. It has a large dining table that easily fit 8 chatty ladies and the tree lined fence along the side of the yard provided privacy. It was lovely.

Outdoor rooms, as opposed to just some plastic furniture on a deck, porch or patio, have been gaining popularity in recent years. With all of the furniture and accessories that are now available from both big box stores and specialty store, it is easy to create the same homey feeling you have indoors, out. In the case of Kerri’s outdoor dining room, the table was lovely and she had placemats and accessories that were made to stand up to the natural elements.  She finished off the space with candles and flowers that made it feel like a true room.

In warmer months it’s nice to spend time outdoors and the opportunities are endless. Check out some of these outdoor rooms that were created on some Archadeck Outdoor Living Structures:

Outdoor Living Room on Porch

This outdoor living room looks over the backyard of this homeowners property

 

Outdoor Dining and Living Rooms on Deck

This Archadeck deck has both living and dining spaces to entertain outdoors

 

Covered Porch in Austin

And this covered porch in Austin? With an outdoor kitchen, fireplace and TV, why would I want to go inside?