Blog Design series

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.

Attached 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.

But 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.

Considering a New Wood Deck? Go for it!

When it comes to large financial decisions, you want to feel good about your purchases. From cars to renovations, if you are like me, you weigh the benefits of moving forward with the investment now or waiting. If a new wood deck is on your list of renovations, rest assured, you’ll not only get more living space, but you’ll be adding value to your home.

Whether it’s adding a new bathroom, updating a kitchen or adding a deck to your backyard, return on investment should be part of your evaluation project. Will it add value to the home? A Remodeling Magazines Cost Vs. Value report ranks wood decks as the second highest Return On Invest project in the midrange cost (a new entry door was number one). According to the report, when homeowners add a wood deck to their property, they can expect to recoup, on average, 87.4% of the cost, adding value to your home.

Decks are great and easy way to increase the usable space on your property. Working with a professional and experienced deck builder, homeowners can have a space designed and built specifically for their needs. It can be as small or as large as you want, but deck design is important. If it isn’t designed properly and doesn’t fit how you intend to use it, you won’t. Make sure you are very clear with how you intend to use your new deck, be it cooking, entertaining, reading, etc. so you get the backyard of your dreams!

Over the last several years, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have seen the composite decking category boom. Don’t get us wrong, composite is a great option for decking, but wood is still a viable and cost-effective option. Pressure-treated wood is getting better too, with new eco-friendly options.

Sometime the look of wood can’t be beat. For the homeowner that enjoys the knots and grain, pressure-treated wood is your best option for decking material. It can be stained in a variety of different colors to complement the finishes of your home, but you’ll still see the detail.

If you have questions on designing or building wood decks, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Making a new space complement your existing home: it’s all in the details

Just a few weeks ago, I went to visit a friend who had recently purchased a new home. We walked through the living space as she pointed out things that they loved and projects they knew they would have to tackle. When we got to the back of the house, it was clear that a new sunroom/living space was on the project list. It was obviously an add-on, and not one that was done well. The finishes were a completely different design and architectural style than the rest of the home. It just didn’t fit.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, when we design and build outdoor living structures, we want them to look like they’ve always been there. They should not look like an afterthought. Often, it’s the details of the project that make this a reality. Here are two examples that show how a space can fit right into an existing home.

The owners of this Augusta, GA home wanted to replace an existing deck with a screened in porch. They felt they would use a screened porch more, especially if it could include a fireplace.

Archadeck of Augusta designed and built the porch to fit the owners’ needs and tastes, as well as their home. As you can see, it looks like it has been there for years! There are two design details that make this happen: the white trim and the brick. The home has white trim along its roofline and windows. The crisp white looks great against the green. By having the framing, skirting and railings of the space be white, the screened porch “fits” with the rest of the space.

The outdoor fireplace brick, as well as the brick walkway, are a more subtle detail. You can barely see in the picture, but the foundation of the home is brick. The color and size of the bricks are nearly identical to the ones used in the porch.

This next example comes from our porch, patio and deck builder in Denver. Like the first example, this home had an existing deck. It was old and needed to be replaced. Instead of building another deck, the owners wanted a sunroom that they could use even when there was snow on the ground.

Curtis Crays of Archadeck of the Front Range designed the addition, paying particular attention to the windows and the color. The home’s color is unique and by being just a little off in the color, it would be noticed. Curtis worked with the homeowners to learn the exact color of the home’s siding and trim and was able to use the same ones. Can you imagine what it would look like if it were white?

The sunroom windows were also an important part of the design. The main home’s windows are pretty simple, without a lot of panes in them. Curtis used similar windows to make the transition to the sunroom smoother.

Whenever you are considering adding on an outdoor space to your home, make sure that you pay attention to the finishing touches, both inside and out. Your sunroom, porch, patio or deck designer should be able to work with you to define what details need to be incorporated into the site. And, as always, please contact your local Archadeck office for any questions or to discuss your outdoor living needs or concerns.

Winter: the Perfect Time to Plan your New Backyard

While I enjoy the winter season, it isn’t my favorite. I may enjoy cozying up by a fire in the fireplace, but I don’t enjoy running from my car to a building due to the cold. My husband and I often plan a trip or event in the spring so that we have something to look forward to. At Archadeck, we often tell people to plan their new outdoor space in the winter, not only to have something to look forward to, but also something you know you can enjoy in the spring.

Not surprisingly, the spring and summer months make up our busy season in the porch, patio and deck building industry. As the weather warms up and people move outside they often realize that they need to improve their outdoor living space. Unfortunately, it make take weeks or months to get a new outdoor living structure built, cutting down on the time you can actually use it.

At Archadeck we design and build custom outdoor living spaces. It takes time. First thing that has to be done is the design. In the design phase, we work with our clients to learn their expectations, likes and dislikes. Depending on the homeowner, we may do two or three designs to make sure it is exactly what they want.

After the design is finalized, building plans are drawn and submitted to the county for permitting. No building can be done during that part of the process. Some permitting takes a few weeks to get the go-ahead for.

After all of that, building can begin and, depending on the scale of the project, you can begin enjoying your new space in a few weeks.

So why am I telling you all this? We want you to enjoy your outdoor living spaces as much as possible and the earlier it can be done, the better. Planning is a big part of that. If you know that next year you want to build a new outdoor structure, call your deck builder now. While the ground may be frozen (only in a few parts of the country) and building can’t begin yet, designing and planning can.

The purpose of planning and designing your projects in the winter is so you can be on the top of the building list when ground can be broken. And, the earlier the building can begin, the earlier you can start enjoying your new deck, porch, patio, sunroom or other outdoor living structure come the warmer weather.

If you are interested in starting to design your new outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Our trained and experienced designers will work with you to create a space that fits your needs, tastes and budget.

One Outdoor Space that has it All

When we meet with a new client, we ask them what their dream backyard includes. Do they eventually want a space that has a deck, outdoor kitchen, pergola and more? We want all our outdoor projects look cohesive and not an afterthought. A complete design plan is key to that. Not every client can build his or her dream backyard at one time, instead it may take years.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we believe that thinking ahead is the best way to make sure that the end project is indeed the outdoor living space the client has always wanted. Through the design, we can decide what pieces can and should be built when if it can’t be done all at one. We call this staged building.

This project from our patio and deck builder in Charlotte is a good example of a space that has everything the owners could ever want and could have been built in stages.

This picture shows the view from a nice screened porch off the back of the house. It looked out of over a large patio and pool. The portion of the patio around the pool and the screened porch would have been a good first step in creating this backyard space. They are the anchors of the final project of this backyard. Everything else could be added on from there.

Off the pool patio, there is another hardscaped area, mostly a large covered patio. The covered patio is really an outdoor room for the family. It is centered around cooking and dining. I love that enough space was allocated for both a good-sized outdoor kitchen and a dining area. It doesn’t make sense for them to be separated from one another. An open patio area is set to the size of the covered patio that has space for chairs around a beautiful fire pit. This would make a good portion of the project that could be done in the second phase of building.

Lastly, to the right of the screened porch, there is a private deck area that is used for an outdoor shower and hot tub. The high fence that surrounds it acts as a privacy wall around the space. It is set up as a more private “oasis” within this gorgeous backyard space. This could have been done in the last phase of the build.

A good backyard design keeps the present, future and the dream in mind. The homeowner then has an idea of what can be and can work towards making it happen. If you have questions on how to create a design based on building in stages, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Dream Backyard Second Place Winner Receives New Patio

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a while since we updated everyone on our Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Some of the projects are in final design and build, but one second place winner is now the proud owner of a brand new Belgard patio, designed and built by Archadeck of Chicagoland.

This is what the Hall family had to begin with. Underneath the snow there was a small concrete patio that wasn’t the beautiful space they envisioned relaxing on. The family explained in their contest description that they bought this house only days after the birth of their first child. While they love the home, they really wanted a space to entertain friends and family outdoors.

The Halls were second place winners in the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover, which means they won a $7,000 patio project with material from Belgard Hardscapes. David Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland worked with the family to design a space that fit the space and worked for their needs. The patio design, as seen in the picture below, was set off of their main family room. Existing walkways both from the other back door and the front yard, were left to work as additional entry points.

The property is on a corner lot which lacks privacy. While the Halls wanted a space that was open, a retaining wall was added to the design for a little privacy and to clearly define that side of the space (not to mention retaining walls make great seating!).

One of the most noticeable aspects of the design is its shape. David created a curved patio instead of the more common square or rectangular patio. Sometimes straight lines can make furnishing the space more difficult (unless the space is very large). Curved lines allow for more creativity.

The actual build of the space took about a week. Demo was the first step. There was a concrete slab off the back of the house to begin with that needed to be ripped out. While the team was chopping up and removing concrete, they also dug the space needed for the patio base and added drain tiles to make sure water doesn’t pool on the surface.

The patio was done in Belgard’s Holland Stone pavers and placed in a random pattern. Below the pavers are inches of base to anchor the space and keep it level and in place. There are 4 to 6 inches of crushed limestone covered with just under an inch of sand. The sand allows the patio builders to lay the pavers in place and keep them sturdy.

Doesn’t the space look great? We think that David did a great job! The Halls are now enjoying their new space, which we are thrilled about.

If you have any questions regarding paver patios or other outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living 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.

When 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.

While 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.

While 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.

Deck and Patio Design that Gives You All You Need

One of my pet peeves is wasted space. When my husband and I were looking at new homes, it was something that always jumped out at me. Getting the most out of a space is important to me; it has to have purpose. And that goes for outdoor living spaces as well. A lot of our Archadeck clients use their outdoor living spaces for multiple purposes which makes the patio or deck design all the more important. The flow of traffic and areas for different purposes have to be considered so that the homeowner gets exactly what they want, without wasted space!

This recent project from our deck builder in Boston really stood out to me because it is multi-purpose and laid out beautifully. The homeowners wanted an outdoor living structure that could be used a lot of ways, but they didn’t want it to feel completely disjointed. They love to be outside and wanted areas for sitting and relaxing, dining, a place for their hot tub, a shaded area and a fire pit for the cooler fall nights.

Jim Finlay from Archadeck of Suburban Boston was put to task to create a space that could fit all of these needs, and personally, I’d be thrilled to have a space like this. Because the main level of the house is two stories up in the back, it was clear that an elevated deck would be a large component of the space. The deck is used for seating and for dining. Having the dining area on the deck was a logical decision due to its proximity to the kitchen. To define the space, Jim designed a portion of the deck that is multi-sided and the decking boards were installed in a different direction. Small stone columns were added to the entryway of the space adding more definition.

The deck also acts as a sitting area. This section has a three-sided built in bench that provides adequate seating for multiple guests. As you can see in the picture, additional seating was placed around the bench to make it even more conducive to conversation.

Off the side of a deck is a staircase leading down to the other parts of the space. Because the hot tub is the only space they would like a little more seclusion (without being completely cut off from the deck and patio) that space was kept to the right of the stairs. To the left is a large partially-covered patio.

The patio was a perfect spot for both the fire pit and shade. Classic pavers were used for the patio. The fire pit section jets out past the deck and into the yard so that people on the deck can still see and speak with visitors below. One of my favorite details is the stone surrounding and defining the fire pit. They match the stone on the columns on the deck and underneath the porch.

Since the deck had to be elevated, it became the perfect place to escape the sun. Under decking was added to ensure that the space stays dry even when it is raining. The homeowners installed a television on the porch beams for nighttime entertainment outdoors. Talk about relaxing!

This patio and deck design fulfills all of the homeowners needs and is stunning. If you are looking to have a space designed for your yard, make sure you consider how you are using the space and even what furniture may be placed. If it doesn’t flow well, ask for changes. As always, your local Archadeck office is there to help you will all your outdoor living questions.

Voting is Now Open for Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover

The time has come! Voting is now available for the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Out of over 2,000 photo entries, we’ve narrowed the field down to six and here’s where you come in. Logon to the Archadeck Facebook voting page to vote for your favorite finalists! Public votes will help us decide who the final winner will be. I can’t wait to announce the grand prize winner in mid-May!

After the winner is revealed, we’ll be keeping everyone abreast of each step of the process, from deck and patio design through construction and the final project. I’m particularly excited to learn more about how the winner envisions using the space and how we can make that a reality through our custom outdoor living design!

Congratulations again to all of our winners. Please visit the contest voting page to vote for one of these six finalists:

We hired a contractor to rebuild our deck and he did about half the work and abandoned to work sight. After inspection, we found out that nothing was to code and he did not have a contractors 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.

We bought our first house last summer (2012), 3 days after the birth of our first child. It’s the “forever house” where we will raise our family. It’s a great house, but it needs some TLC here and there. One of those places is the backyard. Our house is on a corner lot and the house is situated at such an angle that the backyard is very exposed to the street. This exposure makes the curb appeal for our back yard as important as our front yard! We would love to have a beautiful new backyard to have parties and hang out with our friends and get to know our new neighbors. And when they all ohh and ahh over our awesome back yard, we’ll be sure to tell them that we owe it all to Archedeck! Be sure to leave plenty of business cards because I know we’ll be handing them out to friends and passers-by alike! Pick me! : )

As parents of four kids under ten who, essentially, live outside the majority of the year, we’re in dire need of backyard help! Recently, we adopted two incredible kids from foster care and instantly became a family of six. The addition of these little ones enriched our lives, but shrunk our home! Hence, the move to a larger house with good bones and smarter space but also a need for serious updating. Since the move, we’ve slowly been saving money and fixing up the interior. Unfortunately, the backyard has received little attention as it’s been placed at the end of our long list of to-dos. Despite constant competition from technology, my continual goal as a parent is to keep my kids outside playing, imagining, and dreaming. Currently, we rely on a homemade sandbox, trampoline, a rickety, hand-me-down play-set, and deteriorating, wooden deck. My backyard dream is to give my kids a safe, fun place to play and my husband a space to relax with a beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, standing next to a Green Egg Grill. All I really want for myself is a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.

My husband and I are brand new homeowners and first time parents to a son…all within the same year. Both my husband and myself never had a private backyard to play in when we grew up (he grew up in the Bronx and I grew up in Queens, NY). So when we saw this house in Greenwich, CT with a private backyard overlooking a pretty pond we overlooked the ugly red, 1968, totally not up to code, beat up porch and thought this could be a great place to raise a family. We had to do a gut renovation of our house but didn’t have the funds to do any work on our backyard. This will be our first summer where our son can really enjoy the outdoors so we would love the opportunity to give him a space that is safe and enjoyable for friends and family BBQs. The photo is of my husband on our porch when we got the keys to our very first home.

We are of family of 8 with 6 kids ranging in age from 2 up to 11. That doesn’t include numerous neighborhood kids that all love to come over and play at our house. They all enjoy the outdoors and we would like to make our backyard a safe and fun place for them all to play as well as a beautiful spot for my husband and I to relax and enjoy. Our home is situated on a hill and the backyard is terraced. The retaining walls, made with railroad ties, are rotting away and our deck is falling apart. We would love to have a sturdy deck that we could sit on in the evenings, grilling out, and serving up a bunch of fun to all the kids.

My family and I are fortunate to live in a wonderful neighborhood surrounded by beautiful trees and great neighbors, but our fixer-upper leaves much to be desired. We recently purchased this home with stars in our eyes, creativity in our hearts, and a shoestring budget. The first words that came out of my husband’s mouth when we were viewing the back yard with our realtor were: “someday this will be the most amazing spot for a deck…” Our dream is magnificent, but our reality is daunting. The current state of our backyard makes me cringe every day when I open the curtains, or chase down my toddler and tell him “No, no – you can’t go back there”. Our dream deck would replace vines, a pile of concrete, construction debris, and other unsightly features that make the space unusable. We envision a tiered outdoor living space where we can grill, unwind, entertain, get to know our neighbors, let our toddler play, and enjoy the natural beauty of our neighborhood. We have a blank canvas on an amazing lot that is full of possibilities. We just need help to turn our dreams for this space into reality!

Four Days Left to Enter Dream Backyard Makeover!

Over the past two and half months, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have been thrilled to be running the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Unfortunately, there are only 4 more days to enter! If you haven’t submitted a photo of your current backyard along with a description of what you would like in your dream backyard, make sure you do it by April 22nd, 2013! Voting on the six finalists will be begin on Wednesday, April 23rd and the contest winner will be announced on or around May 6th.

As of this morning, there have been just under 1,700 submissions. It’s been wonder reading all of the entrants’ stories and learning more about how they intend to use the space (some of you have great plans!). The grand prize is obviously the $70,000 backyard makeover which will include both a deck and patio component using TimberTech and Belgard products. Recently, I’ve been receiving questions on how the deck design will be settled on and built, so I wanted to describe the process the winner will be experiencing.

Our deck designers and builders take their job very seriously. It is our goal to provide you with a space that is not only beautiful, but also usable and the homeowner is key to that conversation. After the winner is chosen, our local Archadeck owner will visit with the homeowner, survey the entire yard and discuss the needs and wants of the family. By knowing the intended use of the space as well as some of the homeowners likes and dislikes, a custom outdoor living environment can be created that will make everyone happy.

Just like the typical Archadeck Outdoor Living client, the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest winner will be given a 3D design rendering of the space so they can easily envision the end outcome and what it will look like in their backyard. I must say, it can be incredible to see the before, the design and the after.

Once the design is settled on, Archadeck will pull all the necessary permits and get all the necessary building materials ready to get started. And, from there, the transformation begins! Our franchisee and their local team will work to get the space built so that the homeowners can once again enjoy their backyards. Everyone at Archadeck can’t wait to get started on the contest winner’s backyard. Only a few weeks until the winner is finalized!

As always, we’ll be here updating you on the project along the way.

Again, if you haven’t yet submitted your entry yet, you have four more days to do so! You can enter at DreamBackyardMakeover.com.

Good luck everyone!

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.

Decks Ideas to Fit Your Style

When it comes to large home projects, I do my research. Before reaching out to any companies or contractors I’m considering working with, I like to have an idea of what I want so I can provide clear guidance to whomever I choose to work with. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we recommend our clients visit our website to get patio and deck ideas to spur our thinking.

Everyone’s tastes, styles and budgets are different. What works for me and my house may not work for my neighbor. Looking at images will inspire likes and dislikes that should guide your designer to create an outdoor living space that you love and complements the structure and finishes of your home.

When looking for different patio and deck ideas, keep these things in mind:

Color and Material – Fifteen years ago, the majority of decks were wood. If you like the natural wood look, look at different types. Do you like the standard pressure treated pine? Or maybe the IPE is a better option for you. Between decking stains, paint and composite options, your designer should be able to find the perfect color for your deck that enhances your outdoor space.

Material is also a key component of patio design because the options are so varied and are a large part of the design. Some people prefer the look of the traditional red brick, while others like a more natural flagstone finish.

Skirting – Unless you keep the space beneath your deck in beautiful shape, you may want to include some type of skirting to your design. Skirting gives the deck a finished and streamline look while adding another detail that some homeowners may not think of. A few types of skirting are lattice and solid board skirting. Lattice skirting, as seen to the left, has a crisscross look that you may also find on privacy walls. Solid board skirting can be installed in both vertical and horizontal patterns and is similar to the finished look of a fence.

Railings – Railings are not only necessary for safety concerns, but they are also a great place to add a design feature. From iron and glass to vinyl and wood, there are options of every kind.

Built-in features – the last component I would look at for ideas is built-in features. These can include anything from fire pits, fireplaces, kitchens, benches, planters and more. I personally like something that’s a little more functional, so while I think a planter is great, I would add a wider border to it so it can also work as a bench. Other people, however, are fine with just having something that looks great.

To get some patio and deck ideas that may work for your space, take a look at The Archadeck photo galleries. Also, if you want your Dream Backyard and want us to do all the thinking and doing to make it happen, don’t forget to enter the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest.

Outdoor Design makes the Difference

My aunt is an extremely creative person and has been for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t surprising to me when she went back to school to learn how to restructure homes to make them work better for the homeowner. Her specialty is working with existing homes and drawing out changes that improve the flow or usability of the space. A family friend recently turned to her to help with her beach house and the before and after is amazing. A simple change of the layout or design changed the space entirely.

Outdoor living design, like interior design, can increase the function of a space, as well as make the structure look beautiful. With decks, porches, pergolas, patios, sunrooms, outdoor kitchens, etc, the possibilities in outdoor design are endless, but it has to be done correctly. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we ask our clients about their needs, wants, tastes and budgets to create a design that will achieve their goals.

Last week, I mentioned the Archadeck dream backyard makeover contest. One lucky person will receive a $70,000 backyard makeover that will include a deck and patio component. I honestly cannot wait to see what out franchisees come up with for the design. Some of the photos I’ve seen come in will benefit greatly from someone truly thinking about the space, the surrounding areas, the house and how the space will be used. We are thinking way beyond the concrete slab people!

We are accepting entries for the contest through April 20th. You can submit your photo and a description of your dream backyard on our Facebook page here. Make sure to tell us, in 200 words or less, how you envision using the space, that way your deck and patio design will be just what you wanted!

Archadeck launches contest for $70,000 backyard makeover

One of the reasons my husband and I bought our house was the potential we saw in the outdoor living spaces. It has space for a large deck and good sized patio. While we have major plans that we would love to tackle all at once, we know it will need to be done over a few years as time and money allows.

Unfortunately for me, I am unable to enter the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover contest that just launched. Oh wait, I forgot, a $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover! The lucky winner will get an unbelievable project designed and built by Archadeck Outdoor Living with materials from our awesome sponsors, TimberTech decking and Belgard hardscapes.

Ok, so here are the details. Starting today, homeowners can enter to win the backyard of their dreams on our Archadeck Facebook page through April 21st. A photo of your current outdoor space will ensure that we design a space that will complement your current home. Additionally, our judges want to hear from you! Tell us how you would like to use the space and what you envision.

Two finalists will be chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd, fans are invited to vote for their favorite finalist and the final winner will be announced by May15th!

We couldn’t give away just one prize though (what can we say, we like to give). The second place winner will receive a $7,000 deck or patio renovation and the third place winner will get an outdoor lighting system!

What are you waiting for? Go enter to win! I’ll be updating everyone on all the different steps as it happens. Good luck!

DreamBackyardMakeover.com

Upgrading your Home: Ideas for Outdoor Kitchen Design

Outdoor kitchens bring all the best features of an indoor kitchen into the privacy of your own backyard. While they are a hot trend in landscaping design, you don’t have to build a custom home to enjoy an outdoor kitchen. Materials, appliances, and design plans allow for outdoor kitchens to be possible for just about any budget.

The Benefits

Homeowners who may initially believe an outdoor kitchen to be a splurge soon learn that there are practical benefits, including:

  • Simple entertaining options, especially for large crowds
  • Easy clean-up, because the mess doesn’t spill into your home
  • Lower utility bills, because charcoal and propane doesn’t show up on your gas or electric bill

Three Outdoor Kitchen Necessities

Outdoor kitchens can be installed on an existing patio, or deck contractors can build a beautiful outdoor kitchen as part of a larger home landscaping project. The best outdoor kitchens feature three pieces that are both beautiful and functional.

Grill

It’s not just for hamburgers. Upgraded grills come with accessories like a smoker drawer, a warming rack, and even a rotisserie.

Refrigerator

It’s a convenient place to store drinks you want to serve guests. Outdoor refrigerators are also recommended for food safety, because your raw food can sit in the refrigerator instead of in the sun.

Refreshment Center

This appliance is what makes your outdoor kitchen just as functional as your indoor kitchen. Features available on most refreshment centers include cutting boards, drain boards, sinks, faucets, and towel racks.

Four Outdoor Kitchen Storage Options

When it’s time to choose outdoor storage or counter tops, deck contractors can help you pick materials that are both budget friendly and durable.

Masonry Cabinets

A metal or cinderblock frame is covered in brick, stucco, or decorative stone, which makes this extremely weather resistant.

Wooden Cabinets

Wooden cabinets are available in a wide range of budgets. However, they aren’t weather resistant, so they will fade and break down over time.

Stainless Steel

These cabinets look like metal, but they don’t corrode. Stainless steel will show fingerprints and becomes hot to the touch when the sun shines on it.

Polymer Cabinets

This synthetic material closely resembles plastic, which makes it weather resistant and easy to clean. However, it comes in limited colors.

Your outdoor kitchen is as versatile as you want it to be. If you can dream it, there are outdoor kitchen design ideas to make it happen. To make your outdoor kitchen dreams come true, contact Archadeck.

The direction of the stairs is huge!


The direction of the stairs on your elevated porch or deck is a huge consideration and one that we put a tremendous amount of emphasis on when in the design process with our homeowners. Partly we do this because we realize how important it is but also because of feedback from customers who tell us what a big difference it made to have their stairs pointing toward the area where they would be congregating.

If you look at the photo above, the original stair case emptied out into the side of the yard near the fence. This one was a double whammy because the very long stair case was an eye sore from the back yard. By directing the stairs to have a landing and empty out into the living area of the back yard, it made it easier to carry food and other items to their patio, made access easier and better to the back yard and looked a whole heck of a lot better.

As a mother of 3 children, I often tell my children about ergonomic design as we endlessly try to improve the organizational systems that will lead to a cleaner house. So I tell them things like…

Put the spices you use the most on the lower shelf or in the front
Put the book you’re currently reading on your night table and keep the other ones in a book shelf
Create an approved" place to store your back pack near the door
Here are some examples of stairways that direct the homeowners to the living area instead of into the side yard or away from the living area.


The example above was designed by Noelalee Ragle of Archadeck of Austin. Click here to read more about this job. The existing deck had stairs that emptied out into the fence. The new deck incorporated a landing so the stairs emptied right out into the living area.


The deck above was built by Baron Biedenweg of Archadeck of Northeastern Indiana. In this photo, you can see the bi-directional stairs being used on this house to direct traffic into the patio area under the deck and toward the water at this lake house. The view from the lake is also much enhanced by focusing attention on the deck instead of on a very long staircase.

If you’re building an elevated area at your home or even a relatively low outdoor living area, think about where the stairs empty out. Think about carrying food out the door and down the stairs and how far you’ll need to walk after exiting the stairs.

It’s not too early to start planning your outdoor living space for next year!! Call an Archadeck office near you now and ask for a design consultation.

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