Enjoying Fall Nights in Screened Porch and Patio

To me, fall is the perfect season. The colors are beautiful and the cool temperatures call for nights cozying around a fire. When our deck builder in Rolling Meadows, IL and the surrounding areas shared this project with me that he completed this last summer, I couldn’t help but imagine spending my fall nights on it.

The owners of this home in Mokena, IL wanted to update their backyard with areas for shade, sun and plenty of warmth. The Archadeck of Chicagoland team designed a combination screened porch and patio with two fire features that will allow for plenty of use.

Kuehl 7 LOGOAttached to the back of their home, the owners wanted a roof structure that had room for both a living area and a dining area. The Archadeck team not only gave them what they asked for, but took it to the next level. The large screened porch easily fits a large couch/sectional and dining table for 6, but doesn’t feel at all cramped due to the square footage and the cathedral ceilings. Higher ceilings make spaces feel larger. At one end of the room, a large, and gorgeous fireplace was installed to make it feel cozy and to increase use.

While this room is technically a screened porch, the Archadeck team installed 4-track windows to make it a porch and sunroom in one. Tracks slide up and down as needed. The tracks may be open all spring and summer, but be moved up in the fall and winter as the nights get cooler.

Personally, I love the finishes of this porch. The pressure treated pine-decking complements the brick of the home and gives it that rustic feeling that is so beautiful.

Kuehl 2 LOGOBut let’s not forget about the patio design! Right off the screened porch and next to the home are square pavers and then freeform stones were used around the custom fire pit. The two types of pavers work beautifully with the home’s subtle brick and provide transitions from space to space. Instead of a square or rectangular patio, Archadeck designed a curved patio for visual interest and flow.

The homeowners are thrilled with their new outdoor living space. To me, it’s a great example of how design can make all the difference. The combination of screened porch with track windows and outdoor fireplace with a patio with a custom fire pit is the perfect space for the Illinois area. It truly maximizes the amount of time the owners can enjoy it!

If you’re interested in updating your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Creating More Living Space in a Small Backyard

IMG_6883This is an all too familiar sight: a backyard with a small concrete slab off the back of the home as the only true outdoor living space. As you can see with the fire pit, Adirondack chairs and outdoor dining table, these homeowners enjoy spending time outdoors. While there isn’t a lot of backyard space to work with, they needed to update what they had. Archadeck of Charlotte created the perfect patio design for the size.

The clients on this project knew there wasn’t a ton of space to work with, but they felt like their existing outdoor living areas were disjointed, primarily because some of it was on the grass. They were willing to lose a lot of the grass space as long as the new outdoor living structure felt open and addressed their current design dilemmas.

DSCF1317The patio designers at Archadeck laid out this curved paver patio that gives them all they wanted without losing their entire yard. The owners were clear in their desires: space to eat outdoors as well as a built-in fire pit around which to sit.

When planning the space it was clear that a standard square or rectangular patio wouldn’t work. Significant space was needed to fulfill the owners’ outdoor needs, but squaring it off would take up too much space leaving them with no lawn. It also may have resulted in less flow to the patio. By curving the edges of the patio, it gives a it a clear direction, not to mention it gives it a little more style and makes it feel more open.

DSCF1318By moving the fire pit closer to the home and making it a permanent feature, it not only gets more use but also becomes a focal point in the backyard. The feature was finished in the same paver color and design as the patio. A wide edge around the pit was created to give it more weight and provide additional seating when the fire isn’t lit.

Patio designs should be created with the homeowner in mind as each one is different and will use the space in their own way. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we pride ourselves on getting an idea of what our clients’ dream backyard would entail and create a space around it. If you’d like to discuss improving your outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

This is Why you Don’t DIY a Patio

When it comes to outdoor living spaces and structures, there are aspects that you may be able to do yourself, and others that are just too complicated. When it comes to the structures themselves, we say leave it to the professionals. This article from the New York Times illustrates how hard it can truly be to build a patio yourself.

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

Small, low to the ground patios may look simple enough; can’t I just place the pavers on the ground? Trust the professional patio builders, there is more to it than you think. The author of the article, Bob Tedeschi, can attest to that. The witty article explains how something that looks so simple can, in reality, take days to complete. Here’s his explanation of the help you may need:

“… Get a multitude of muscle, spread out over at least two bodybuilder friends who owe you a huge favor. Ideally, one of those friends will own a truck and the other will own a skid-steer machine, like a Bobcat. If not, you should consider renting one of those, or finding more friends to help carry the load.” Source.

A beautiful paver patio can be a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy time with friends and family, but a lot of work goes into creating that space. First off the area for the patio needs to be dug out and leveled. This involves digging up any grass that is currently in the place and creating an even space to start with. This can be a tedious task on properties that have any type of slant or slope, but it is incredible important. If you don’t start with level ground, your patio won’t be level either.

After preparing the ground, base layers of gravel and sand are placed on top. Each layer has to be level too. The base keeps the pavers from moving around and allows water to flow through the base without pooling on your patio’s surface.

When all of that is done, pavers can now be placed and secured, creating a lovely patio. Concrete or polymeric sand are just two of the options to lock everything in position.

If you are considering adding a patio to your property, save yourself the time and hassle and hire a professional patio designer and builder. Not only will they do all the dirty work, but they will also work with you to design and create a space you’ll love for years to come.

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!

Building a patio – so much more than you see

Working at Archadeck Outdoor Living, I’ve seen some beautiful patios, walkways, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces and other hardscaped areas over the years that our offices have designed and built. The beauty of the finished product can be misleading however. At its surface, the patio looks gorgeous, but what lies below is what keeps it looking that way in the long run.

Building a patio that will hold its shape and structure is more difficult than the looks of it show.

The first step is to prepare the ground for the patio. This includes grading and digging footings. Grading is the process of leveling the ground. If the ground isn’t properly graded, it will lead to an uneven outdoor living space. Grading may include removing or adding more dirt to the space and packing it down until it is firm and even.

Digging footings is necessary to keep your outdoor living space safe and sound

Digging footings is necessary to keep your outdoor living space safe and sound

If the patio is a simple patio, footings may not be required while preparing for the build, but if you are adding something with extra weight, like an outdoor kitchen or outdoor fireplace, footings need to be created. Footings are essentially bases for extra large structures. For this example, let’s use an outdoor fireplace. Due to its weight, it needs more support from below. A large hole is dug underneath where the fireplace will ultimately sit. That hole is filled with concrete that, when hard, will be able to hold up the outdoor fireplace for years to come.

After the footings are dug and the ground is leveled, the layers begin. The first layer that is placed on the ground is called base stone. Base stone is key to keeping the patio level over time and seasonal changes. Once the stone is laid in place, it is then impacted down. Like the dirt below it, the base stone will be leveled.

After the base is all set and in place, sand is spread and leveled on top of it. Sand is a helpful as the pavers are placed down on top of it as it helps to keep it all in place before everything is locked in tightly.

Laying pavers can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. It just depends on how intricate you want the design of it to be. At Archadeck, we’ve done some that are simple rows and others with circular or curved patterns.

Patio, deck and sunroom comboOnce everything is in place, it has to be secured. Along the sides of the patio, there will be an edging materials that digs into the ground. It works as a barrier for the pavers. The most common way to lock your paver patio in place is to use polymeric sand. This sand is spread and swept on the surface of the patio, working it’s way into all the nooks and crannies of the entire space. Then it will be exposed to water. When it gets wet, the sand will harden, similar to concrete.

As you can see, building a patio is much more difficult than simply picking out a stone that you like. At Archadeck, we take great pride in our work and take the time to do it all correctly so you can enjoy the space for years to come.

If you have any questions on designing or building custom patios, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Portico Welcomes Guests in Style

Posted by: janegwalker

We post a lot about the absolutely beautiful backyard spaces that our porch, patio and deck contractors design and build, but sometimes we don’t give enough credit to the front of the home. When I saw the pictures of this front porch I knew I had to share it. It’s classically beautiful that gives the home a true “wow” factor.

The owners of this property needed an updated place to welcome guests and entertain them. They live is a great neighborhood that they wanted to be able to enjoy from their front yard (and then have privacy in the back). Our deck builder in Boston created a space that spans the width of the house and includes both covered and open spaces.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhen designing the space, the Archadeck of Suburban Boston knew they wanted a portico area that provided guests with some coverage. In the cold Massachusetts nights, the homeowners didn’t want friends and family waiting in the falling snow (or rain). The portico only covers the front door because if it too went the width of the house it would block too much sunlight into the home. Many deck and porch designers don’t take the inside of the home into account when creating the space, but an outdoor project can have a major impact on the inside of the house. The front windows wouldn’t allow much sun into the home’s front windows if the porch area were any wider.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhile we didn’t want the covered area to be too wide where it affects light into the home, it is wider than the average portico. Most porticos aren’t much wider than the front door and that can oven make it look cramped. By creating more room under the roof structure, it makes the whole space look more inviting and accessible. The width is kept at the bottom of the front the stairs and then tapers down the to the walkway (which we will talk about below).

The columns, ceiling and railings were finished in white to give a clean look. If a darker color were used, it wouldn’t have the same crisp first impression. It’s so light.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhile many front porches have stone floors, wood decking was used across this entire project. It makes it unique and the deep browns look great with the blue of the home and white of the railings.

I love the front walkway to this home because it isn’t cookie cutter. It’s special. The three colors are the perfect complement to the rest of the front facade. The dark lines bring out bring out the black shutters and door, but it would be way too dark for the entire walkway.

If you have questions on how to make your home more welcoming, please reach out to your local Archadeck 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.