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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.

When 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.

Do 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.

Thinking about a new outdoor living space? Not sure where to start?

With all of these cold temperatures, I am counting down the days until the weather turns and starts to warm up again. I can’t wait to sit outside, relax and enjoy some time outdoors without a freezing face. If you are considering building a new outdoor living space, now is the time to start planning. Here are some things to consider that will help when it comes time to talk to a patio and deck builder.

How do you intend to use the space? Gone are the days of a one design fits all attitude to outdoor living. Say good-bye to the square deck or patio and hello to a custom space built for you and your goals in mind. Take some time to think about how you plan to use your new patio, deck, porch or combination there of. Is it an oasis for you to curl up with a book? Do you need space for grilling, dining and entertaining? With a clear idea of its use, your patio and deck designer can create something that will fit those goals.

What time of the year will the project be used? Spring and summer is the easy answer to the question, but outdoor living spaces can be used all year if it is designed correctly. If you live in the south, for example, it may entail building an outdoor fireplace or firepit, while you may need a sunroom if you live in New England.

Why type of structure or structures do you want? The first two questions definitely play a roll in deciding whether you want a porch, patio, deck, sunroom, outdoor kitchen, etc. You’ll also have to keep your property in mind. If you have a large slope off the back of your home, a deck may be a better choice than a patio for example. If you aren’t sure what is right for your goals, talk to your contractor about the best options for you. They will keep your goals and budget in mind.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, the best project designs are often collaborations between the homeowner and us. To help guide those conversations, we created the Archadeck Design Guide a few years ago. This free download will get you thinking about what you want in your backyard right now and what you may want in the future. It will ask you questions about your goals, your property and your tastes. The guide is a great place to start if you are thinking about building a new outdoor living space.

If you have any questions on outdoor living considerations and options, please visit Archadeck.com or contact your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers and contractors are happy to help you in any way.

Patio and Deck Design, it’s all about the details

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our motto is “better building, by design.” Not only is our construction and building top notch, but our patio and deck design in amazing. When it comes to creating something not only functional (although that is goal number one), but also beautiful, sometimes it comes down to the small details of the project.

Our trained designers think beyond the obvious and that’s what makes some of projects as stunning as they are. Here are just a few ideas of finishing details that can make your outdoor living space go from “nice” to “oh, wow.”

Different Decking Patterns – Decking boards are the base of a deck, but they can also be a beautiful design component. Our designers often place the boards in different patterns to define space or to make a deck a little more unique. We may use different color decking boards as well to add visual interest. Take deck for example; the boards were installed at different angles throughout the space. It enhances the space by helping to define each section of the deck.

Utilizing Multiple Materials – This goes along with number one, but outdoor living design isn’t about using one color or material. When designing and installing patios, for instance, we often incorporate different materials into one project either to define or highlight different areas. The gray stone on this patio clearly highlights the step down to the lower portion of the patio. By mixing and matching material the entire space is more aesthetically appealing.

Trimming out a post or a beam. Many decks and patio require a railing to meet building codes and requirements. While they may be necessary, they can also be decorative. Trimming out a beam or a post is adding a decorative detail to make it look nicer.

Sanding rail caps – sometimes the little things make all the difference. Simply sanding down the rail caps and their edges will make everything smoother and cleaner looking. Not to mention you’ll be less likely to get any splinters!

Consider the stairs – stairs are another area for subtle deck design. Whether it’s using different colors for the horizontal and vertical components or placing them at an interesting angle, it all matters. These stairs, for example, are cornered and take up more space, but they create a more open looking entrance to the deck.

The best patio and deck design ideas are often found in the details. Make sure you talk to your deck builder about your style so that he/she can create something that you will love. Please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office if you want to experience our better building, by design.

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.

At 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.

3. 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 Design for Optimal Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor entertaining has emerged as a large theme in outdoor living. Many people really want a place for family and friends to gather and spend quality time outdoors.

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, it helps to have an outdoor space that was designed to accommodate that. A good patio or deck design will address flow and layout so that your outdoor parties are enjoyed by all.

Before we get into deck design ideas, if you are planning to have a barbecue or outdoor party and have an existing outdoor structure, make sure you have a deck safety inspection if you haven’t recently. The average lifespan of a deck is 10 years, but at Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest having your first safety inspection when the structure is 5 to 7 years old. Just because the deck looks OK, doesn’t mean that it is structurally sound. A professional can come and give you an idea of the current shape of your deck as well as tell you what small fixes you can do to make it last longer.

When considering a new porch, patio, deck or combination outdoor project, make sure you tell your deck designer how you intend to use the space, especially if you are looking to entertain outdoors. Be specific so they can create a space that will fit all of your needs and wants. Planning to have your guests sit around in an outdoor living room is very different than needing an outdoor dining room.

Defining the different areas of your outdoor space is key to keeping the flow open and useful. Take this deck for example, I love that the dining area is clearly defined. In this instance it was done by elevating the area a bit, but this can also be achieved by adding a pergola or other roof structure to create a “room” or by switching the material pattern.

A space that is well designed for entertaining takes into account that entertaining means people and people means space to sit. For some homeowners that means an open space where they can place outdoor furniture. That allows for some flexibility if furniture needs to be moved or if you would like to switch out the furniture periodically. Other deck builders will include a built-in seating bench or retaining wall to accommodate guests. Normally benches or retaining walls are used both as a place to sit and a way to designate the use of the space.

When people entertain outdoors they sometimes like to do the respective cooking outdoors too. For that, an outdoor kitchen is perfect, however, the design should be able to hold more than just the chef. This outdoor kitchen is perfect for entertaining, for example, because it has space for people to circle around and talk while people cook on the grill or outdoor pizza oven. It keeps the chef in the middle of the action and conversation.

The key to any good patio or deck design idea is that it checks off your list of needs and wants. An outdoor living structure can be pricey, so it is best to be very clear with your deck builder what you want out of the space. If you aren’t sure, download our free Archadeck Design Guide. The guide asks a series of questions that will help you envision the backyard of your dreams.

March Dream Backyard Makeover Finalists Announced

It has been a busy month for Archadeck and its Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. We are thrilled that so many people have taken an interest in the contest. With over 1,000 entries, it was extremely difficult to pick two for the month of March, but somehow we did it.

We are still accepting entries through April 22nd, 2013. On April 23rd voting will open for all six finalists. If you need a reminder on the prizes, here they are…

First prize – a $70,000 backyard makeover sponsored by TimberTech Decking and Belgard Hardscapes. The winner of this will have an absolutely gorgeous new outdoor living area with both a deck and hardscape component design and built by Archadeck Outdoor Living.

Second prize – a $7,000 deck or patio renovation by Archadeck Outdoor Living.

Third Prize – a $3,000 outdoor lighting system from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

The full descriptions of the finalists’ photos will be posted on the Archadeck Facebook page when voting opens, but here’s a glimpse at the March finalists!

The first March finalist comes to us from Connecticut. The first time homeowners and parents fell in love with this home despite the old, not up to code deck and porch. The backyard has great potential to be the perfect space for this growing family. This house is not only the first home the couple has owned, but the first backyard both of them have ever had after growing up in the city! We at Archadeck Outdoor Living see the possibilities!

The second finalist comes out of Iowa. This family had to move to a larger home after adopting two kids from foster care. Now with four young kids (under the age of 10), the homeowners would like an outdoor space for the kids to play away from the television and computer. The parents hope to have a space to relax (maybe cook) and watch their kids enjoy the outdoors. With a large yard like this, the options for a Dream Backyard Makeover are endless!

Congrats to our March finalists! For everyone else, keep the entries coming. The last group of finalists will be announced on April 22nd! There is still time to enter!

First Finalists Announced in Dream Backyard Makeover Contest

With the first month down, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are happy to announce the first two finalists for Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover. We had just under 350 entries in the month of February, making it extremely tough to pick just two deserving families.

If you haven’t entered the contest yet, make sure you do at DreamBackyardMakeover.com. Two finalists are chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd the photo descriptions and photos will be posted for online voting. The winner of the $70,000 makeover will be chosen as a result of panelist votes and Facebook votes. TimberTech Decking and Belgard hardscapes will be used in the final project.

Here are the two finalists for February (full owner descriptions will be posted when voting begins on April 23rd).

The first is out of South Carolina where the homeowners were unfortunately taken advantage of by a lousy contractor. They hired and paid a contractor to build a new deck off the back of their house only to have the contractor disappear in the middle of the project. To make matters worse, the homeowners found out that none of the work was done to code leaving an unsafe structure!

The second finalist comes from the Chicago area. The homeowners purchased this house only 3 days after welcoming their first child. They hope to raise their family in this house, but it needs some work. They plan to host friends, family and neighbors in the backyard of their dreams if chosen for the backyard makeover.

Congrats to our two finalists!

Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas for the Ultimate Cooking Experience

As many of you know, Archadeck Outdoor Living is in the middle of the $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover Contest (make sure you enter!). The entry form asks for a 250 word description of a photo of your backyard. Many entrants have included what they would like to see in the backyard design. One common theme is the outdoor kitchen, a perfect place to cook and entertain friends and family.


There are number of outdoor kitchen design ideas to consider. With different sizes, shapes, layouts, finishes and appliances to look out, the possibilities are practically endless. So how do you decide what is right for you? Answering these questions may help you define what exactly you want in your outdoor kitchen?

How do you pictures using your outdoor kitchen? If you are simply going to throw your food on the grill, a big outdoor kitchen may not make sense. A built in grill and small counter space may work just fine. For those people that like to prepare, cook and eat outside, more space is needed in the layout.

What appliances are necessary? Most outdoor kitchens include a grill of some sort, but outdoor appliances go well beyond the grill. We’ve designed and built outdoor kitchens that have included sinks, ice makers, small refrigerators, smokers, pizza ovens, stoves and more. When thinking what appliances you need, think about how you like to cook and what you would rather have right there with you as opposed to those things you can walk inside for.

How many people will be cooking with you? No one likes to feel crammed, especially with the heat and dangers that may accompany cooking. Consider how many people may be with you while you are cooking. Some of our clients will add a place to sit so that whoever is cooking can have company. If several people in your family are known to man the grill simultaneously, you may want to look at larger outdoor kitchen designs.

What finishes should be included? We at Archadeck Outdoor Living are big believers in integrating new outdoor living features in with the old structures (and the home) seamlessly. We don’t want a new outdoor kitchen, for example, to look like an afterthought. When thinking about your outdoor kitchen, think about what is needed to make it complement what’s already there? Do you have a brick patio? Maybe a brick finish will work. What color counters would look good?

Outdoor kitchens, like indoor kitchens, can be very personal to the homeowner. What seems extremely functional to me, may not work for my best friend. A professional outdoor kitchen designer and builder should ask you questions like these to make sure you get the most out of your new space. If you have any questions regarding outdoor kitchens, our outdoor living in general, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Screened In Porches – Rooms You’ll Use

As a kid, I remember visiting my aunt and uncle’s house to see their new screened in porch. It was nice, a square room that had 3 screened walls. It fulfilled its purpose as a place to sit and enjoy the outdoors without bugs, but it wasn’t special. It was pretty standard for screened porches of the time, but man have things changed. Knowing what I know now, I see that the plain square screened room is a lost opportunity for a really special space in your home.

Our Archadeck franchisees design and build some of the most beautiful screened in porches I’ve ever seen. As I look at them, it becomes more apparent that the custom design is the key to making sure the room is a true outdoor living space and not just another room added on to the house. Before designing the space, our porch designers will ask questions like: how do you intend to use the space, what time of the day do you want to do use it, how many people does it need to accommodate, etc. These questions lead to projects like these:

This screened in porch in Des Moines is beautiful inside and out and may be one of my favorite examples of an “outdoor” structure that is truly usable. The homeowners wanted an additional porch where they could have a drink with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors without the elements, but most importantly, they wanted an additional outdoor living room. From there, our porch designer in Iowa, Harold, designed this space. You can see from this angle that the structure itself blends perfectly with the finishes of the home. To ensure the inside get optimum amounts of light, windows surround three of its sides and skylights were installed on the roof. While the outside looks beautiful, it’s the inside and its details that define the screened in porch as a living room. Take look at that outdoor fireplace! The large stone fireplace warms up the space both literally and figuratively, and its mantle and hearth give it a homey look. The placement of the TV is key to making the space it a true living space. It clearly isn’t an afterthought. I also love the lantern like light fixture on the roof.

The needs and wants of this homeowner in Charlotte were a little different. He wanted to add a screened in porch to back of his home for an additional place to sit and relax, but needed it to also be a smooth transition to his outdoor patio. His neighborhood is newer and because of construction as well as close neighbors, he needed the ability to block off some of the sides from time to time. Archadeck of Charlotte designed a simple space that fit all of the homeowner’s requirements. All of the woodwork was finished in whites and creams to provide the brightness. Archadeck 2012The transition between porch and patio was achieved by using the same concrete inside and outside the space. The last issue to work through was privacy. The homeowner didn’t want anything permanent and building in any privacy walls would take away from the airiness of the porch so they decide to install some curtain rods along the exterior that can be opened and shut as needed or wanted by the homeowners.

If you have questions regarding screened in porches and how one may add to your outdoor living experience, don’t hesitate to call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Build a Romantic Escape Right in your Backyard With Above-ground Pool Decks

Above ground pools are sure to bring hours of enjoyment for your family, but they aren’t known for looking pretty. A beautiful patio design could transform your above ground pool from an eyesore to a resort.

Add a Deck

Sure, that rickety white ladder allows you to climb inside your above ground pool, but does it make you feel like you’re enjoying a getaway? Adding a deck is how you spruce up your pool design and make it more functional. Pool decks make it easier to get into your above ground pool, they add space so you can sit poolside, and they hide the unsightly sides of the pool.

For a look that really stands out, consider adding multiple levels to your deck. This could be as simple as a landing a few steps off the ground, or you could have a level of the deck that overlooks your pool. Additionally, the finishing touches of your deck are important. Don’t skimp on the rails that surround your deck; they make your space feel private… just like you would feel at a high-dollar resort.

One thing is for sure… if you don’t do anything else to your above ground pool, adding a deck will instantly help it feel more like a vacation.

Add Greenery

Beautiful flowers, hedges, and succulent plants require minimal landscaping but offer maximum appeal. “Pool decks”https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/decks/multilevel-decks/deck-offers-greater-pool-enjoyment/ are a great space to add some greenery. Flowers and plants in pots or planter boxes around the deck bring softness to the deck and the pool area. You can also plant hedges or flowers around the side of the above ground pool (where the deck doesn’t already cover) to draw your eye away from the pool siding. Highlight it with some mulch and anyone who visits your pool will feel like they’re in a top-dollar vacation destination.

Add Functional Furnishings

A resort lifestyle includes sitting by the pool, and you can enjoy that in your own backyard with functional furniture. Look for fabric that can withstand your climate and fabric designed to catch your eye. Try out the furniture before you buy it to make sure it’s comfortable. After all, you want it to be something you’ll be able to relax in.

Taking money you would invest in a vacation and investing it in your backyard is a great option to enjoy a lifestyle of luxury. Archadeck can help you find your solution to resort living… right in your own backyard.

Curved Deck Adds Charm to Georgia Home

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our motto is “better building by design.” We take great pride in the fact that each and every one of our outdoor living projects is different and custom designed to fit the homeowner’s needs, tastes and budget. We have a needs assessment that guides our designers as they create the perfect space for their clients. Our deck builder in Hawkinsville, GA recently created an outdoor living space using an old feature of the property as his inspiration.

Stephen Denton, the owner of Archadeck of Central Georgia, was asked by his clients to create a deck design around an old well that the home had. The house was built in the 1800s and had some beautiful charm as a result of its age. The old well had been filled in and works as a flowerbed, but the homeowners did not want to get rid of it due to the history behind it. Instead, they wanted a unique outdoor living space that mirrored its shape, thus the curved deck was born.

The curved edges of the deck enhance the curve of the well that sits in the center of the deck. Rounded decks, however, don’t work on certain properties due to the landscape. In general, decks must having railings for code and safety issues (no one wants an injury), but curved railings are expensive. They have to be specially made because you can’t bend wood or rail caps to follow the unique curve. Luckily this project didn’t need to have railings. The evenness of the yard allowed Stephen to build a low-to-grade deck which means the structure is low to the ground. If the deck is less than 30 inches off the ground, code says that the structure doesn’t need railings, so the sides of this project were left open. The homeowners are thrilled that the view from their deck isn’t blocked by railings and is completely open to the backyard (not to mention it saved them money). Railings were added to the straight edges of the deck and stairs so visitors have something to hold on to while traveling around some parts of the space. The railings on the side also give the deck added definition.

When considering what the deck in Hawkinsville should be made of, the homeowners were clear: they wanted low maintenance. Stephen used TimberTech composite decking in a deep walnut color so his clients can easily keep the space looking like new and don’t have to worry about rot, mildew or bugs as the boards age. Archadeck of Central Georgia was able to build the deck without breaks in the boards too. No two boards are right next to each other on the ends, creating a clean finished look.

The last part of the deck design was the trellis. Not only can the homeowners use it as a place to hang or grow vegetation, but they also added an outdoor curtain that they can open and close for added privacy.

I love projects like these where a request to keep and highlight a special feature, like this well, drove the deck design. It’s a unique project that the homeowners love. It’s functional, yet charming.

To learn more about designing an outdoor living space that you and your family can enjoy, download the Archadeck Design Guide, or contact your local Archadeck office.

Homeowners Move it Outdoors

Outdoor Living is both a fun and growing category. As Angie Hicks, from Angie’s List explains,

“In our Angie’s List annual project poll, we found about 35 percent of the respondents plan to invest in the exterior of their house…When it comes to making outdoor living spaces, they can become elaborate these days. More of us want to spend time outside, but if you are on a budget, be very clear and upfront when you are planning the process. Potentially, get your project broken into phases so you can do parts of it in any given year.”

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we totally agree with Angie. We know that the “dream backyard” can be expensive depending on what your dream space includes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell your contractor what you eventually want. As we’ve discussed before, we build in phases when needed, but we like to design the space completely from the beginning. Whenever you are talking to your deck and porch builder, tell them everything that you would ultimately like included in your outdoor living space and then prioritize them. Maybe the patio is most important now because you want to be able to host friends and family sooner rather than later, but the outdoor fireplace can wait for a better time.

Many of our franchisees ask their potential clients to download the Archadeck Design Guide to spur their thinking so we can design the perfect space for our clients. The Design Guide asks a series of questions that when put together will aid in creating an outdoor space that you are sure to love.

Angie’s List also recently provided their tips to kicking off your outdoor living project:

  • Check rules and regulations. This is incredibly important as you may not be aware of the regulations or codes that may impede your building process. Unfortunately, this research and figuring out what you do and don’t need to pay attention to can be difficult. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we handle all parts of the permit process so you don’t have to.
  • Who to hire? Make sure that you are hiring a contractor that can manage your outdoor living project. Some builds may require multiple professionals (for instance a plumber or electrician) so be sure to ask what contacts your main contractor has so you are working with a trusted source.
  • Set your goals. Like we said, tell your deck or porch builder everything that you eventually want out of your space so they can design it accordingly.
  • Establish a budget. Be realistic about what you can invest in the space now and what you may have to save for. Give your contractor a hard number so there isn’t any confusion.
  • Create something you will use. If you aren’t going to use it, why build it?

If you are interested in learning more about Archadeck Outdoor Living process, contact your local office to schedule a consultation.

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.”

I 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 usable 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.

2012 Design Guide is Now Available!

Featured in this month’s Traditional Home and Country Living is the Archadeck Outdoor Living’s 2012 Design Guide (it is also available to download on our outdoor living website). If you haven’t downloaded the Design Guide, it guides you through the process of creating an outdoor living space. It includes questions to ask and things to consider when planning your outdoor space including:

  • How you will use the space?
  • What views are important to you?
  • How do you want your existing landscaping incorporated?
  • Where in your yard will the project be built?
  • What do you want to put on in your space?
  • Answering questions like these will guide the design phase of your space. It will help you decide what you want to build whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola, gazebo, outdoor kitchen or a combination.

If you are thinking about enhancing your outdoor living space, please download our design guide or contact your local Archadeck office.

Plan Your Dream Backyard Now - Built It In Phases

We’ve said it before and we will say it again, but at Archadeck Outdoor Living, we want to help you make your backyard dreams come true. You want a new deck? Great! A patio off that deck? No problem. How about an outdoor kitchen for the chef in your family? Sounds wonderful. We can design a custom outdoor living space that encompasses all of that, but that doesn’t mean you have to build it all at one time.


Building new structure or updating old structures in your outdoor spaces can be expensive and something that many people save for for years. Spreading the build across a few years may make more sense for you and your family. This is called staged building and it’s something that we think is an important part of the design process.

When you are looking to change your outdoor living space, designing the dream backyard from the start will save you time, money and frustration later. Although you may not add the second piece to the space until a year or two after the first, you don’t want it to look like an afterthought. Instead, you want every aspect of your backyard to work seamlessly with each other. In the initial design phase, it’s important to see how the pieces work together to make sure everything “fits.”

Developing your backyard design in advance may also save you money in the long run depending on what you may be building. For example, if your end goal includes a fire pit, fireplace or outdoor kitchen, you will want to run your gas lines early if they run under your other projects. Small things like this will save you from having to tear up parts of your existing structures to include others.


When talking to your outdoor living contractor, it’s important to mention everything that you eventually want to include in your yard. Ask for “staged” plans showing you how your space will look after each part of the project is built. If you aren’t exactly sure what you need or want, ask yourself questions like “how do I envision myself using the space?” Our design guide will give you further direction on what may fit your needs and lifestyle and give you the best backyard you can imagine.

If you have any questions on staged planning and building, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Sunroom or Screened Porch? Why not have both?!

Deciding on a new outdoor living space is a big decision. There are so many options now, decks, patios, sunrooms, porches, outdoor kitchens and more, and they all have their own benefits. In preparing and budgeting for your projects, it’s important that you weigh what is most important to you. Is it size? Material? Budget? These are all questions that you should be able to tell your contractor when the time comes.

One question we at Archadeck Outdoor Living often hear is what’s best, a sunroom or a screened porch? In short, both are great outdoor living options that can add significant value to your home. But now, you don’t have to make the decision of sunroom or screened porch. You can have them both, in one project.

Our customers love sunrooms as they can use them all year round while still being surrounded (on three sides) by the outdoors. Those with screened porches love to sit in the shade and feel the breeze without being bothered by bugs. And then there are the lucky few that have both.


Sliding and removable panels are becoming more popular in the outdoor living category because they provide customers with a variety of ways for their rooms to be used i.e. as both a sunroom AND a screened porch. PGT Eze-Breeze is a vertical sliding panel of vinyl windows that are backed with screens. When the weather is right, slide them down for a screened in porch, and pull them right back up when it’s raining! The panels are custom-made for your project and available in a variety of colors to make sure they complement your home perfectly. The vinyl window is lightweight to make the sliding easy and still provides the same view as regular glass.

Vinyl windows may not work for every location. Some homes need something more durable and insulating. For those customers, we have removable glass panels and windows. In the warmer months, the panels/windows can be removed so that the sides are just screened. And when it gets cold again, just put them right back into place. It’s all about options people!

If you are planning an outdoor living space and aren’t 100% sure what you want, it’s important to start asking yourself some questions, like how are you going to use the space? What views are important to you? The Archadeck Design Guide can help guide your thinking and prepare you for future meetings with contractors. And, as always, feel free to contact us, or your local Archadeck office for more information.

Turn your outdoor space into one worthy of celebration with Archadeck

Yes, the July 4th holiday has come and gone once again. As the nation celebrated its birthday, was your outdoor structure worthy of the celebration? Many of us had outdoor get-togethers and cookouts to celebrate the holiday, many of those celebrations were conducted in or on an outdoor structure that is a little worse for wear or is not as functional as you wished it could be.

Don’t let another holiday leave you feeling unfulfilled with your outdoor structures appearance or lack of functionality. Archadeck can transform your backyard into a space worthy of celebration with the help of our new design guide. The design guide covers all the major considerations that go into proper planning and design of an outdoor living space. The first of which asks the question of functionality. What do you want your outdoor space to be used for? Whether the answer to that question for you is entertaining, dining or just relaxing the design guide focuses on the form and function that would work best for you.


Since outdoor structures are our specialty our design guide also asks the question of how “outdoorsy” you would like your outdoor space to feel. Many homeowners like the look of the outdoors and the feel of the outdoors but not the insects and the suns harmful rays that sometimes come along with it. One of Archadeck’s screened porch or covered porch designs might be a solid choice for this scenario. Our design guide outlines key considerations like this in a step-by-step manner outlined to ultimately bring you to the recommendation of what outdoor space would be perfect for you.

Many of us have a “wish list” that we carry around either in our minds or actually written out of ways to make your outdoor space better, or even creating the outdoor space of your dreams from scratch.The design guide shows you how to create the outdoor space you have been craving with an easy step-by-step process that defines key components focusing on your individual needs. With this design guide Archadeck can help you choose the outdoor structure, or structures that is best suited to you and your family and then goes a step further to set the wheels in motion to meet with one of our talented design consultants for a free consultation based on the areas covered in the design guide.


Archadeck is the leading designer and builder of affordable, functional and innovative outdoor spaces since 1980. Whatever your dream, we can build it. Whatever your need, we can build it. Whatever your want, we can build it. The sky is the limit when it comes to the uniqueness and functionality of our outdoor spaces. Our design guide puts you in the driver’s seat. Visit http://www.archadeck.com/guide/index.html to download your free design guide and learn what we mean when we talk about the Archadeck difference.

Don’t let your next outdoor event make you sigh and say " I should’ve". If you would like to talk with one of our talented and knowledgeable representatives you can contact Archadeck at 888-687-3325 or [email protected]

Archadeck's new Design Guide puts you in the drivers seat


Archadeck is helping to make backyards in North America more beautiful and functional one home at a time. Archadeck Outdoor Living is inspiring homeowners with some great ideas thanks to our new Outdoor Living Design Guide. This design guide shares our expertise and knowledge and puts it right at your fingertips. It is now available for a free download online at http://www.archadeck.com/guide/index.html


This full-color design guide features outdoor living space photos, ideas, tips and hints to give you a starting point in planning your new outdoor space and make your backyard the best it can be. It takes you on a guided tour of where to begin in planning the backyard you have always dreamed of.

The first step begins with functionality and helps you determine exactly what you want to do in your outdoor space. For example, within the patio and hardscape portion you will be asked to answer questions like do you want to dine, entertain, garden or just relax in your outdoor space. As you answer the questions it will lead you into ways to incorporate nature into your outdoor space because after all that is what makes these spaces so special. Do you want sunshine streaming in? Or maybe an outdoor space free of insects?


The view from within your outdoor space is of utmost importance and Archadeck has made this another point of focus in our design guide as well. This guide also aids in deciding where to place your outdoor space by taking into consideration the direction your backyard faces all the way to your lot and soil conditions.

A well planned outdoor space can complement not only your home’s exterior but the interior as well. With this in mind we show you how to plan a structure that allows for easy transition from interior spaces into your outdoor space.

This wonderful tool puts you in the driver’s seat and puts you in a better position to meet with your Archadeck Design consultant by having a better idea of the outdoor space that will suit your wants and needs. For a sneak peek on how the design guide works visit “http://bit.ly/dreamyards”: today. You can also call us at 888-687-3325 or email us at http://www.archadeck.com/ContactUs.html

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