How to Decide What You Need in an Outdoor Living Space

Updating and enhancing your outdoor living space is a big decision and can be a big investment. As you go through the process, you want to be confident that the final product will be a space that you love. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our design process is incredibly important to ensure that the right structure and space is built, leaving you with an area you’ll enjoy and use.

100_0254When creating the perfect design and structure, we ask a lot of questions, including:

How do you intend to use the space? It’s easy to say “I want a bigger deck,” but that’s too simple. Getting a clear understanding of how you’d like to use the space makes form and function a goal. Someone who wants to have a glass of wine on an outdoor couch needs a different type of space than the homeowner that hosts large parties and eats in the backyard every night. The more ways you want to use the space, the more planning that’s involved. For example, if you want to use your outdoor space into the night, it makes sense to plan for outdoor lighting and a fire feature.

What’s the topography of your yard? Do you have a flat yard? Does it slope? The topography can make a big impact on the best structure types for your property. If you have a large slope or your main living floor is higher off the ground, a deck may be the best option. Flat land is more forgiving in structure type, be it a deck, patio, porch or other structure.

ornate-pergolaDo you have favorite views of your property? If you love looking out onto the rolling hills to the east of your home, your deck designer and builder should create a space that allows you to appreciate that. Where and how the deck, porch or patio is built impacts your view.

How is your property situated? Do you need area for shade and sun? Some people like to spend time in the sun, while others prefer the shade. If you like the shade, why have a deck that’s in direct sunlight most of the day? It doesn’t make sense. Archadeck Outdoor Living often combines projects to fulfill both needs. You may have a porch that leads to a patio or a deck with a pergola.

Getting the perfect outdoor living space really depends on your preferences. We often ask our prospects and clients to download and fill out our FREE Design Guide to help guide our conversations.

If you have questions on enhancing your backyard, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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 Deck Replacement and Patio to Increase Outdoor Living Space

As time goes on and changes, so may your outdoor living needs. What may have been the perfect space for you and your family 5 to 10 years ago, may not work for you now. This project from Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad is a great example of updating an outdoor living space to work better for the homeowners.

Image (24)beforeThe owners of this North Carolina home had an existing elevated deck off the back of the house. It was large enough at the time for how they used the space, but it was in need of some updating. When it came time to replace the deck, they wanted to change the layout of the space to fit their current needs better.

When designing what turned out to be a deck and patio combination project, the homeowners asked for more outdoor living space, but they didn’t necessarily want a larger deck area. John Mallard of Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad designed a deck replacement and patio addition that would provide the space the family required and look beautiful.

0001314The stairs on the existing deck were placed in the middle of the space. Not only did that break it up, but it didn’t allow for much space below it without taking up more of the yard. It was dead space. By moving the stairs to the side of the deck, it not only provided space needed below, but it also opened up the deck.

Down the stairs, a large curved patio was installed, connecting the area below the deck to the yard. Instead of using the same iron railings that were installed on the deck, John suggested having a retaining wall around the curved edge. Not only would it look beautiful (which it does), but it would also provide additional seating as needed when the family entertains.

100_0254Outdoor lighting was also added to the patio to ensure that it can be used night and day.

This space works much better for the family now that it is updated. They have all the outdoor living space they need to host friends and family all throughout the summer. The new deck and patio design is also much more open than it was before, allowing the homeowners to enjoy their yard.

If you have ideas or questions on how to improve and enhance your outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Reworking an Outdoor Living Space to Fit your Needs

From decks and porches to patios and sunrooms, outdoor living spaces are not one size fits all. What functions and works well for one homeowner may not be perfect for another.

deck-builder-chicagoWhen I initially saw this project from our patio and deck builder in Chicagoland, I thought the before picture was a pretty nice space. Seen in the picture to the right, the deck was large spanning across the width of the house, but it didn’t work for the homeowners. It wasn’t their taste and didn’t function as well as they believed it could.

The homeowners wanted to replace the existing deck with a patio. For how they envisioned the space working, they felt that a patio would work and look better than a deck. Luckily they worked with Kristen Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland to design their new space and the end result was just what they were looking for.

The owners of this home enjoy entertaining and wanted space for cooking, dining and relaxing. Kristen created a unique patio design with multiple layers, materials and shapes give the clients exactly what they wanted.

The top level of the patio is where the family does their cooking. The grill is here and it has easy access to the kitchen doors. Access to the indoors is an important piece of outdoor design; it has to flow. Having the grill, for instance, on the opposite side of the space than the kitchen door would make it more cumbersome to use.

patio-builder2My favorite area of the space is down two steps from the grill, where there is a bar area with outdoor stools. It’s the perfect place to eat or just sit and have a drink with friends and family. The curved space makes it special and it overlooks their beautiful property. You can see how the curved perimeter is mirrored on the materials on the base of the patio. A darker paver was used set this particular area apart from the rest of the space.

patio-builderBeyond the bar area is an open space that can be used for just about anything. Right now the homeowners are using it as an additional place for dining outdoors.  In this area, you can really see why the homeowners wanted a patio instead of a deck. By keeping the space level with the ground no railings were needed and it opens up seamlessly to the beautiful yard!

patio-design-ChicagoAnd if you take a step back and look at the project as a whole, you really can see that this space is a step up from the previous deck. It complements the home’s finishes instead of looking like an afterthought. It’s a wonderful space and wonderful patio design from Archadeck of Chicagoland!

If you have questions on enhancing your outdoor living space to work better for you, please contact your local Archadeck office. One of our trained designers and builders can surely help!

Gas or Wood Fired, what’s best for your Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit

One of the growing trends in outdoor living is fire features. More homeowners are including either an outdoor fireplace or fire pit to their decks, porches and patios to allow them to use the space more often. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design both fireplaces and fire pits that work seamlessly with your outdoor structure.

Archadeck_Story_002AWhen considering an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, one of the questions that commonly comes up is: should it be gas or wood fired? While some people have strong feelings for or against an option (I can’t blame someone who loves the smell of a wood fire), here are some questions to consider as you make your decision:

Where do you live? Wood burning fireplaces or fire pits aren’t made for all parts of the country. If you live in a dry area of the country, you may not have easy access to firewood, making gas a better option. Conversely, gas is usually a better choice for heavily wooded properties as well. If there isn’t a clear opening above the fire, you’d want the control of a gas fire feature as opposed to wood. Wood fires give off more smoke and embers that shouldn’t go up into branches from trees.

What will be the cost of running it? Wood fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are more cost-effective to have if you have easy access to firewood. If your property abuts a wooded area for instance, you could probably grab wood for the fire for free. Conversely, with gas fires you do have to pay for fuel costs.

Outdoor-Fireplace-DenverDo you need easy control and convenience? This question is especially important if you have any small children that may be around the fire. Gas flames are much easier to control and use. They are easy to turn on, off, up or down. So, if you need to turn it off in a hurry, you can. Additionally, there is no smoke and you don’t have to clean up any ashes. Wood burning fires cannot be easily turned on or off and there is always smoke. You have to watch it more carefully to make sure it isn’t getting too big or hot and from time to time, you will want to clean out any built up ashes.

Are you adding it on to an existing space? At Archadeck, we try to plan for all parts of your outdoor living space (even future additions) when we design a deck, porch, patio, etc. When you plan ahead, the choice of gas or wood can be easier due to gas lines. If you know you want a gas fire pit on your patio in the future, for example, you should have the line put in as you build the patio. If you are adding a fire feature to an existing space and hadn’t planned for it, it may cost more if anything needs to be torn up for a gas line. In that case, a wood burning fire feature may be your best option.

Is the flame important for you? Personally, I love the sound of a crackling fire and I love the smell of wood burning. A gas fireplace can’t give me that. If having the characteristics of a real fire isn’t important to you, however, you’ll be happy with what a gas fire pit or fireplace can provide you.

If you are looking to enhance your outdoor living space with a fire feature, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. With our knowledge and expertise, we can help you to create a space that you can’t help but love.

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.