Blog Fire Pits

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.

Warming up your Backyard for Fall

Happy Fall everyone! Welcome pumpkin spice everything, apples, football and changing leaves! I’m so excited to welcome autumn; it is my favorite season! Just because the weather gets cooler this time of year, doesn’t mean you should move indoors. Here are some tips to warm up your backyard from your outdoor living experts: Archadeck.

Fire features are one of our favorite outdoor structures and, not surprisingly, have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits easily become the center point of any outdoor living space and provide enough warmth to keep friends and family outside (not to mention great to roast s’mores in). At Archadeck, we design and build custom fire features that complement your existing outdoor structures.

If having a permanent feature on your property isn’t an option, but you’d still like to have an outdoor heating option, there are some choices. Propane fueled outdoor heaters are available in a number of sizes and can easily be added to or removed from a space very easily.

For some homeowners a fire feature or outdoor heater may be too much to add to their outdoor spaces, but you can still stay warm. Have a few warm blankets available for you and guests and you can still enjoy your backyard. Since it’s fall, look for blankets in warm reds, yellows and oranges.

When all else fails, have a warm drink for people to sip on outdoors on a cool night. It doesn’t need to be anything difficult, just delicious. Here’s a great apple cider recipe to enjoy:

What you’ll need:

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange
  • 2 T whole cloves
  • Rum (optional)

Poke holes around the oranges and poke cloves into the holes. Place the orange in a crock pot with the cider and cinnamon sticks. Cook on low for 4 hours. Add rum to each glass as desired.

Happy Fall!

Creating More Living Space in a Small Backyard

This 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.

The 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.

By 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.

Gather Outside to Watch the Game this Fall

It’s nearly August which mean we are just a few short weeks away from the NFL and college football season. If you’re like me, you can be found in front of a TV on Saturdays and Sundays taking in all the action. But do you know what’s better than watching the game inside with some food and beverages? Watching it OUTSIDE with food and beverages. With the right outdoor living design you can invite friends and family over to enjoy the sporting events and movies!

Outdoor entertaining is a topic we discuss frequently with our clients. We are always interested to know what type of entertaining they do so we can create a spaced tailored to that purpose. When it comes to hosting sports and movie parties, there are a few items and design ideas that make it even more enjoyable.

Something to watch the game on. You can’t watch the game without a screen of some sort, right? Technology has improved and evolved so much that there are a number of outdoor TVs on the market that work beautifully. When designing your deck, porch, or patio, however, you want to discuss with your designer where’d you like it. With the plan in place, cables can be run appropriately. If you aren’t interested in TV, there are also screen and projector options for you to consider!

Space. If you want to host friends and family, you need space for all of them to hang out and enjoy the evening outdoors. Let your porch, patio or deck designer know that you need ample room for everyone to view the screen without obstruction. If you like to have large parties, a 6 ft. × 6 ft. deck just won’t do!

A fire feature. The best games are often played in primetime and in the fall (and winter in playoffs) that can result in some cooler temperatures outside. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit is a great way to enjoy all the action outdoors comfortably (and maybe with s’mores!). If you want the area to really feel like a room, placing the TV above the fireplace works wonders!

Food. What’s a football game or movie without snacks? While your contractor may not be there to help you at kickoff, we can help you now! Here’s an easy recipe for delicious queso for your next party!

When you’re ready to have the ultimate viewing space in your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Keep it Outdoors this Summer

Spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we are passionate about enhancing our clients’ outdoor living spaces with our designs and builds. Our hope is that after our work is done that our clients spend more time outside.

When we talk to our clients about getting the most use out of their decks, porches, patios and other outdoor spaces, there are certain things we like to discuss and implement:

Places to gather. When it comes to entertaining friends and family outdoors, a clear area to gather and relax encourages people to spend time outside. This should be discussed during the patio or deck design phase, but can easily be created in existing spaces. Strategically placed patio furniture or built-in seating is a clear way to invite guests into a specific area of your outdoor spaces. You can take it one step further with both living and dining outdoor furniture in different areas of the space.

An area for cooking. The more you can stay outdoors will keep your guests outside too. An area for cooking will keep you and your guests outside on a nice day/night. While a grill is a great place to cook, an outdoor kitchen will allow you to do more than just the cooking. With counter space, you can prepare, cook and serve your delicious cuisine. At Archadeck, we design custom outdoor kitchens that complement your overall outdoor living design perfectly.

A fire feature. Personally, I don’t like to be forced inside on a lovely night just because the sun goes down and it gets a little cool. That is just one of the reasons that fire features have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Both fire pits and outdoor fireplaces emit enough heat to keep you outside on a nice night, and who doesn’t love to huddle around a fire, not to mention the s’mores?

If you have questions on how to get more out of your outdoor living spaces, please contact your Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

What are the Top Outdoor Living Trends in 2014?

Gone are the days of lawn chairs on a concrete slab in the backyard, in are the days of beautiful outdoor living spaces. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recently released the results to their annual Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. Each year, the ASLA surveys residential landscape architects about what aspects of outdoor living will be big for 2014. I must say, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living aren’t that surprised, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t excited by them!

The survey is lumped into different categories. Number two in the Outdoor Design Elements in category is outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces, etc). 92% of the surveyed landscape architects said that outdoor living spaces will be popular or somewhat popular in 2014. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we’ve been building custom outdoor structures since 1980, but we’ve seen an evolution of what that means in the last 5 to 10 years. What once was thought of just a simple deck is now considered an outdoor living space that serves a particular purpose.

More specific is the Outdoor Living Features category of the survey. The ones that we are often asked about the most are seating and dining areas (97.7%), fire pits and fireplaces (95.4%), grills (94.3%), and installed seating (89.6%). Not surprisingly, this goes well with outdoor living spaces, as to have a useful space it has to fulfill a need. The features are what make them living areas and not just a structure.

Nancy Somerville, ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO explains the interest in outdoor living: “Homeowners known that designed landscapes add value to their lives as well as their property values…They’re interested in livable, open spaces that are both stylish and earth friendly.” Source.

When designing a structure for a client, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living talk to the homeowner about the way the space will be used and how they envision it flowing. With the goals in mind, we can create a patio or deck design complete with the features to make the backyard of the client’s dreams.

If you have any questions on designing outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trends in Outdoor Living Ramp Up Comfort and Warmth

Home magazines, television shows and websites are showcasing outdoor living trends as never before. So it’s no wonder you’re itching to transform your old-school patio or cookie-cutter deck into an impressive and functional space. Start by looking at trends that fit your lifestyle and have the legs to make your home irresistible to future buyers. Here are some things to consider:

Seating Clusters

Tops in the comfort category are seating clusters. Thick, comfy cushions and strategically placed outdoor furniture arrangements can spark conversation and help build relationships with family and friends. Designers are big on outdoor furniture that brings people together, stands up to the elements and showcases personal style.

Fire it Up

Fire pits and fireplaces are still all the rage, adding both fashion and function. By night they create summer-camp ambiance from early spring right through the fall. A fireplace, paired with an outdoor television that has integrated speakers, adds a whole new dimension to game-day get-togethers.

Landscaping that Fits the Land

To give your outdoor living areas maximum appeal, choose an overall landscaping look that makes sense for your home, the weather and how busy you are. If you live in a dry desert climate, choose succulents that need minimal watering. If you’re retired, you may want to add a flower or raised-bed vegetable garden that becomes a favorite hobby. If you’re always on the run with work and your family’s schedule, don’t put in a complex landscape or garden that will need lots of maintenance.

Get in the Cooking Zone

Goodbye grill, hello cooking zone. Whether you call it your outdoor summer kitchen like they do in chic, seaside resort communities, the trendiest outdoor living areas all have places to let your inner chef loose in the great outdoors. Just like gourmet indoor kitchens, your outdoor kitchen can be built with warming drawers, outdoor cooking stations with integrated storage, even a prep station and mini fridge, along with a more traditional gas grill. Newer amenities include a hybrid grill that lets you cook both gas and wood or charcoal.

Easy-Care Conveniences

Kitchen appliances, advanced deck materials and high-tech spas are making it easy to adapt new design trends into your great outdoors. But be careful not to overlook the big picture. Your primary goal is to enjoy your new outdoor living space, rather than spend money maintaining it. Always ask if products are low-maintenance and easy to take care of.

It’s always best to talk to your deck builder about how you intend to use the space to ensure your patio and deck design works well for you and your family. If you have any questions, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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.

Backyard Contest Update: Fire pits and building

It’s been a few weeks and it is time for an update on our Archadeck Dream Backyard Contest winners! Last we checked in with Rick and Merea Bentrott they had finalized their deck and patio design and were ready to start building. Harold Cross and the rest of the Archadeck of Central Iowa have been hard at work on the space!

Before we get to the building update, there was one last tweak to the design. In the last update the design looked like this:

And now, it looks like this:

The Bentrotts decided to enhance the patio portion of the space and add a fire pit and a seating wall. Extending the patio provides for more entertaining space and the kids (they have four) are sure to enjoy roasting some s’mores around the fire pit.

Much like the benches on the deck, we are providing built in seating on the Belgard patio. Retaining walls, when built with the correct height in mind, not only provide the perfect place to sit, but also another way to define the space and create the flow.

With the design plan in place, Harold and his team were set to break ground and start constructing the Bentrotts’ Dream Backyard. Videos of the build throughout the process can be seen on Archadeck of Central Iowa’s YouTube channel.

After six days of finished work, a lot of construction has been done. Demolishing the existing deck and leveling the area for the structure were the first tasks. On day two on site, a lot of dirt needed to be dug out for both the base of the patio and all of footings on the space. The footings are essential to the safety of the structure and were needed for the deck and covered porch.

Unfortunately, there are some things we cannot control, like the weather. A few days of rain delayed us, but we are back on track! The deck framing is finished and the boards have been installs. The decking was provided by our contest sponsor, TimberTech. The color of the boards is Brownstone and they were laid in a diagonal patterns instead of the classic straight version.

The frame and roof of the covered patio have been installed. Underneath and beside the covered area is the patio itself which will be done using Belgard Pavers. What goes beneath the pavers, called base, is incredibly important with respect to the integrity of the structure. Without a good base, the homeowner may notice some uneven areas over time. A base layer of rock has been spread over any area where pavers will ultimately be.

We can’t wait to see the final product and how the Bentrotts will enjoy their new backyard space. In the meantime, if you have questions concerning any outdoor structure, please contact your local Archadeck office.

What to Invest in and what to DIY in your Outdoor Living Space

The best outdoor living spaces provide for just that, living outdoors. But with home and property obligations, it can be too expensive to have the best of everything from the beginning. We’re often asked what to invest in and what you can wait to save for. Well, here are thoughts and some ideas to make your space look fantastic without spending the big bucks.

When it comes to saving your dollars and investing in the outdoor spaces of your home, you definitely want to invest in the actual structure. While you can switch out furnishing relatively easily, you can’t do that with a deck, porch, patio, screened in porch or sunroom. You also want to know that whatever you have is built to code and will last for years.

If you are looking to add on smaller structures, like an outdoor kitchen, fire pit or fireplace, this is something we also suggest investing in because it will add value to the space and be there for a long time. Anything this isn’t mobile, we suggest investing in.

In terms of furnishings, this is where you can save in some areas and spend in others. If you are going to spend over a few hundred dollars, make sure that you absolutely love it and it will last. When my husband and I were looking for a new outdoor dining table, for instance, we set a threshold. We said if we were going to go over $XXX dollars, it had to be great quality and something we both loved. Below that, we could consider purchasing knowing that we may upgrade in a few years.

The smaller items in your outdoor living space are great places to save and create some easy Do it Yourself pieces. Here are some ideas that are cost effective, but also chic…

Plant it in something unique.
Anyone can go into a home improvement store, buy some planters or pots and plant some flowers in it. Some homeowners however may want something a little more special. Look for things that can function as a planter, but have some visual interest. My aunt has a birdbath on her property that she didn’t want birds in (too many mosquitoes) but was too beautiful to get rid of, so she planted some herbs in it. I’ve also seen people plant in old wheelbarrows like this one.

Don’t forget about the pots.
Just because planting in a terracotta pot may be predictable, doesn’t mean you can’t use them in your space. They are great bases for side tables. You can either flip it upside-down and place a piece of Plexiglas on top or sit it upright and do the same thing. If you keep it upright, you can also add something special in it, like shells or sea glass. Pots are also great ways to add color into the space. They not only are available in fun colors, but they are easily updated with spray paint.

Keep those pallets.
Old wooden pallets are as multipurpose as they get. They can be used in so many different ways. Using a pallet as the top of an outdoor coffee table is just one idea. You can sand and stain it or paint it any color you want. They are a great option that fulfills the purpose and looks great while you find something that you love.

Think about it before you throw it away.
Just because something wasn’t initially purchased for the outside of the home doesn’t mean it can’t end up there (this isn’t the case with all things). Take an old bureau or bookcase for example. If you treat it with an outdoor protectant to ensure it doesn’t rot, it could work incredibly well in a covered outdoor area, like a porch. An outdoor wet bar perhaps?

A gorgeous outdoor living space is normally a mixture of some “investment” pieces and some quick finds. The more important thing is that at the end of the day, you love it. If you have any questions, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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 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.

We Have an Outdoor Fireplace!

S’mores anyone?

It’s week two of our patio and deck build here at the Archadeck Outdoor Living corporate office and a lot of work has been done. The once grassy patch to the left of our building is now a construction site with bulldozers, dirt, sand and holes!

Over the last week the construction crew has been hard at work leveling the space and digging the footings for the deck and outdoor fireplace. We mentioned footings last week, but here’s a picture if you can’t quite picture it. Footings, as you can see, are just holes at this point in the build (they have since been filled with concrete since I took this picture).

The largest footing was dug for our outdoor fireplace. The fireplace itself is very heavy, so the ground beneath it has to be supported by the footing (imagine an extra-large hole).

Once the footings were inspected by the county, we were able to start building our retaining wall around the space. Concrete was mixed on site to place in between each and every paver. Without that, people would run off with them they look so good! The retaining wall is serving a few purposes for us. First off, it is used to define the edges of the patio space. The patio is low to grade which means that it doesn’t by code need a railing, however we had to dig into a hill to clear the space for the project. If we didn’t have the retaining wall, everyone would be enjoying the sight of a wall made of dirt. I prefer the pavers. The second purpose it serves is as a place to sit. We are going to have built in benches and retaining walls around the space to make sure everyone can sit when wanted.

Once everything was all set, we were able to move the Belgard outdoor fireplace into its position. Outdoor Fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and styles. Many are gas burning, but we chose to use a wood burning one. Isn’t it pretty? My favorite part is the iron accent on the chimney section. It’s small details like that that give that warm/homey feeling. Overall it’s a very classic look.

The patio pavers are starting to be installed around the base of the patio and then outward. We are very pleased with the progress thus far. We’ve gone from this:

To this:

We are all anxious to use the space. Just a few more weeks and I’ll be sitting outside writing this blog!

If you are interested in learning more about outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. I’m confident we could find something that would look great in your yard!

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!

2013 Outdoor Living Trends

As Spring is just around the corner, it is time to look at what is hot in the outdoor living category for 2013. Every year we at Archadeck Outdoor Living find our clients asking for different finishes or types of projects that would enhance their outdoor living spaces. The America Society of Landscape Architects, or ASLA, recently released survey results on what is hot for this year. Here are some of the highest ranked projects:

Ninety-seven percent of respondents rated fire pits or outdoor fireplaces as in demand. We’ve discussed the growing popularity in fire features over the last few years. As outdoor living spaces have evolved into true extensions of the home, we see that outdoor fireplaces are being added to include the homey feeling outdoors. Not to mention they allow homeowners to use the space well into the fall. Who doesn’t enjoy bundling up by the fire and enjoying s’mores or hot cocoa? I know I do.

Rated just under outdoor fireplaces and fire pits were grills. Grills have been popular additions to outdoor living spaces for years. When it comes to grills, and outdoor kitchens, the possibilities are endless, but they should also be planned for. We’ve all seen grills that are placed on a deck or patio but don’t really seem to have a place. Even if the grill isn’t built into the outdoor structure, make sure to tell your patio or deck builder to create a space for the grill. When it has a designated space, it increases the flow and design of the space.

Third and fourth on the list were seating and dining areas and outdoor lighting. This doesn’t surprise us at all. For an outdoor living space to be an extension of the home and to be used, it has to have purpose. No one spends time in the empty rooms of their house, why would they outside? When considering adding a deck, porch, patio, sunroom, screened porch or other outdoor structure to your property, make sure you tell the designer how you intend to use the space. You may find that you want separate areas for different purposes: one place to sit and read a book and another to dine with friends and family. And, if you want to use the space after dark, add outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting can be added to outdoor living spaces at any time in most cases, but will be more seamless if you plan to add it while the project is being built.

The trends in outdoor living spaces do change, but as Nancy Somerville, ASLA’s executive vice president and CEO explains; “In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards. They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

If you are interested in enhancing your outdoor living spaces, contact your local Archadeck office.

And in case you’ve forgotten, it’s not to late to enter Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover Contest! The first set of finalists will be announced in just a few days. Make sure to submit a photo of your backyard and let us know why your yard deserves the $70,000 grand prize!

Combinations of Outdoor Living Spaces Define Use

One of the first questions our outdoor living designers ask our clients is “how do you intend to use the space?” Without that answer the design won’t be as good as it can be. Answers to that question can vary from cooking with and entertaining friends and family to sunbathing and relaxing. For many of our clients their outdoor living spaces need to multifunctional. If that’s the case, the designer needs to create a project that has a flow that defines the separate spaces for different functions.

Many of our clients choose combination outdoor living spaces, meaning a deck with a pergola, patio with outdoor kitchen, etc. Using different structures is a clear way to define separate areas within an outdoor living area. Here are some beautiful examples from our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees.

This project from our patio and deck builder in Boston transformed this backyard into a multipurpose space using a patio, deck and sunroom. The sunroom is a beautiful extension of the home that looks as if it’s always been there. It can be used most of, if not all, year when the cold Massachusetts weather may keep the homeowners off the patio. The sunroom is a great place to sit and relax or have a glass of wine with friends and family. The patio’s main use is dining. You can see that dining area is clearly defined by a circular paver pattern that’s different than the rest of the space. Changing the pattern of a building product, deck or patio, is an easy way to break up a space. Lastly, a small raised deck was added as an entrance into the hot tub.

The homeowners of this project wanted space to eat, entertain, enjoy and escape the sun. Our deck builder in Newton created a space that could encompass all those uses. The bottom patio level is made from brick pavers and is the perfect place to enjoy the sun whereas the screened porch is the best place to escape it. The deck is really two spaces with the pergola creating isn’t own space to the right.

While this project is all one deck in Nova Scotia, its multi-level design break it up for its numerous purposes. On the top level, a custom outdoor kitchen, table and chairs define that space as the dining area, while the built-in bench and fire pit create a great place to sit and relax on a cool night.

Talk about a multi-purpose space! This project from our patio contractor in Macon has it all! The custom outdoor kitchen has a large eat in bar to sit or stand at while cooking and the fire pit is clearly defined with a different colored paver. The large patio surrounds a pool where everyone can sit and relax.

If you are interested in learning how a combination project can enhance your outdoor living space, contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Happy Labor Day from Archadeck Outdoor Living

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the summer. Kids will be going back to school and the nights will start to get longer. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we don’t think the cool fall nights should force homeowners indoors. Instead cozy up around a custom fireplace or fire pit.

I grew up in a home where family time was spent around the fireplace. I loved it. As an adult, I had to have a fireplace when we were looking for a new home. And as we were looking to update our backyard, my first idea was to add a fire pit. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and finishes so they don’t look like an afterthought but a natural extension of the home.

Our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees design custom fireplaces and fire pits that are sure to enhance your outdoor living spaces. Do you need an edge around the pit for food and drinks? No problem. How about storage along the side of your fireplace for wood or accessories? You got it. Your outdoor project will be designed with you, your home, your tastes and your budget in mind. Take a look at some of these beautiful Archadeck fireplaces and fire pits:

If you are interested in learning more about custom fireplace and fire pits, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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.

Low to Grade Patios – attractive and affordable

My husband and I have a small deck off the back of our family room that offers a nice spot to sit outside with guests and grill out when the weather is nice. We’ve been thinking about updating the space since it’s pretty basic and is now showing its wear (it was there when my husband bought the house years ago). When talking about our options, we thought we’d be hampered by budget, but interestingly enough, our space is perfect for a low to grade patio, which is attractive and affordable.

A low to grade patio is a patio that doesn’t have large level changes and is close to the ground. In my case, there is a less than five inch difference between the deck and the yard around it. Because leveling will be easier while building a low to grade patio, it can be an affordable option to updating your outdoor living space. Additionally, railings may not be required if the patio is low to the ground (make sure to ask your patio contractor about code specifications), saving you money on railings and posts.

Low to grade patios are not only affordable in comparison to higher level patios, but are also extremely attractive. Paver patios come in a variety of colors, sizes and finishes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we show homeowners which options would look best with their home’s architecture and finish to make everything work together seamlessly.

In previous posts, we have discussed the benefits of staged building, where you build different components of your outdoor living space at different times until you have the backyard that you’ve always wanted. Low to grade patios are a great option to include in a multi-structure outdoor living space as they can be the perfect add-on to a deck, porch, sunroom or screened porch. Furthermore, with all of the finishes available, you shouldn’t have a problem finding an outdoor kitchen or fire pit that complements it flawlessly if you want to add that later.

If you would like to see how a low to grade patio (or deck) can be incorporated into your outdoor living space, feel free to contact your local Archadeck office.

Archadeck uses creative hardscaping to build functionality and style into our designs


When thinking about building a memorable hardscape such as a patio, outdoor fire pit or outdoor fireplace or even an outdoor kitchen, it is the details and subtle nuances present in the design that make it a cut above the rest. Seeking areas to add design oriented touches and beauty can not only make your hardscape a pleasure to look at, but sometimes adding these touches can also add to the functionality of your structure as well.

We like to call these nuances and design details, creative hardscaping. Thinking outside the box when it comes to creating a backyard hardscape takes experience, and design expertise. One example of creative hardscaping is creating a seating or relaxation area with little more than an idea and additional hardscape material. For example, you can create a seating area to complement an outdoor fireplace or fire pit by incorporating a roomy hardscape ledge or hardscape bench seating. With this added seating area, there is no longer a need to bring in outdoor furniture for a place to sit while the fire pit is in use.


Using hardscape materials in an innovative manner is not exclusive to fire pit designs. There are endless possibilities of ways to use hardscapes to enrich and expand your outdoor living enjoyment through design. A simple patio can become a place of enchantment for a child by extending the patio area to include an area that shines new light onto the typical playful sandbox of yesteryear. An outdoor kitchen and grilling area becomes an outdoor bar perfect for entertaining with just a little imagination.


If you are planning an outdoor structure with hardscapes in your near future, contact Archadeck to plan, design and build a hardscape that uses the art of creative hardscaping in each and every design. Not only will you be the envy of the neighborhood, but the functionality it will add to your backyard enjoyment will astound you as well. To find an Archadeck location close to home visit our locations list, located on our website.

See more stunning hardscape designs by visiting our patio and hardscapes gallery also located on our website.

Put a little holiday in your step with a new deck by Archadeck

In many parts of the country a deck is an outdoor structure that can be enjoyed year round. With mild climates and the prospect of an “Indian summer” coming to call, homeowners in many areas of the country can enjoy the holidays outside just as easily as within the confines of their home. Taking advantage of crisp, fresh air and the true sights and sound of the season are a privilege to experience. Watching squirrels gather nuts and berries, feeling the wind blow through a majestic southern live oak tree and tickle your senses and even the smell of a cedar growing close by can all be enjoyed from the ultimate vantage point, atop your custom-built deck by Archadeck.

These Atlanta homeowners are doing just that from their new deck that is truly a deck for all seasons. This Christmas deck is courtesy of the talents of Jeff Mullins and Sol Elisha of Archadeck of Greater Atlanta. This stunning deck is all decked out for the holidays in style. A scene like this gives new meaning to the old saying that there is no place like home for the holidays! This stunning multi-level diagonally installed composite deck has separate areas for lounging, eating or dining, and entertaining. The addition of recessed lighting carefully integrated into the staircases design ensures safe passage from one level of this stunning deck to another, and promotes an essence of romanticism as well.


This already breathtaking deck has been make even more so by being decorated for the holidays. Can you imagine peering out your window on Christmas Eve and seeing this welcoming design of Christmas decorations and lights upon your deck? The homeowners creativity and talents really shine through. I don’t believe Ole’ St. Nick could have pulled it off better himself. The entire creation sets the stage for a perfect spot to make holiday magic come true and is also a spot to create lasting holiday memories.

Archadeck specializes in designing and building many other genres of outdoor structures, including stunning and versatile decks. Can you imagine a covered patio used as an extension of your living and entertaining space complete with an outdoor fireplace integrated into the design? You could even top off the season with stockings hung with care by your outdoor fireplace, or maybe adorn the structures interior with whimsical Christmas decorations and lights. Remember that Santa doesn’t mind coming to call in your exterior room when it is all decked out in style for the holidays to welcome his arrival.

Archadeck also makes the perfect gift this season. A new deck, patio or pergola is the gift that keeps on giving all year through. What could be more amazing than receiving a gift that offers years of outdoor living enjoyment?


To learn more about laying the foundations of creating your own “Christmas deck” much like the ones you see here, or to give the ultimate gift this year. Contact the deck and outdoor living experts at Archadeck. Give yourself and your family the gift of a deck this Christmas, and next year you can stage a scene that will remind you of the magic and beauty of the holidays.

To find an Archadeck location near you visit our locations list, located on our website.

Archadeck of Chicagoland gives us two different patio designs, both breathtaking in terms of beauty and function

It all begins with an image in the homeowner’s mind. Excited homeowners who have decided to add to their back yard look to us for guidance and to design the outdoor structure they have been dreaming of. Every outdoor structure is different – as different as each of our customers that incorporates their individual style, and intended function into the design. This week we take a glimpse into two very different patio designs by Archadeck of Chicagoland, and see the way the hardscapes can be designed to suit the individual owner’s needs.


We are featuring two stunning hardscape patios for customers in Wheeling, IL as well as Libertyville, IL. Each of these homeowners were looking to benefit from very different functions in their new outdoor structure and Archadeck of Chicagoland was able to deliver all their needs, wants and desires into two patios that will make both homeowners the envy of their neighborhoods. Here is a glimpse into some of the gorgeous hardscape patio designs from Archadeck of Chicagoland…

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First we take a trip to Libertyville, IL where David Berryhill and his talented design staff were able to create an area that made the homeowner’s existing backyard more accessible and easier to view since this is where the children’s play set is located. The homeowners were only initially looking to have Archadeck of Chicagoland build a deck and create more access to the rear of the yard. We were able to deliver a functional hardscape structure that met all of their needs. The patio is more conducive to the grade of their lot so they created a multi-level patio that followed the natural grade of the landscape and provided flow to their children’s play set area. The patio is constructed from a combination of Brussells block pavers by Unilock and Brussells block dimensional stone for the curvilinear walls.


Our second spotlighted patio by Archadeck of Chicagoland is located in Wheeling, IL. The homeowner’s wish was for a patio, a fire pit and an area outdoors to dine and be able to grill. Their answer was to build a patio that had separate areas for dining, and a separate grill and cooking area, and of course a stunning custom fire pit complete with a custom hardscape seating wall built right into the curves of the patios grand design. For this patio we used Cantebury pavers and Brussells dimensional stone .

If you and your family are looking for the perfect outdoor builder to bring your dream to life, contact Archadeck today. We can meet with you and prepare a design rendering that will capture the very essence of your wants and needs, and then we can begin bringing it to life. In the Chicago area contact Archadeck of Chicagoland at (847) 359 – 8002
(630) 505 – 7688
[email protected]

For more awe-inspiring patio and hardscapes visit our photo galleries on our website.

Archadeck of Chester County provides these Kennett Square, PA homeowners with a little less deck and a lot more action


It is time to turn the spotlight on another Archadeck location that is doing spectacular outdoor living designs that are not only beautiful but functional as well. This creation by Archadeck of Chester County includes a sunroom, deck, outdoor kitchen and a custom fire pit located on the lovely patio. It also includes a stone trimmed built-in spa, not to mention a gorgeous pergola for the icing on the proverbial cake. This combination of outdoor structures gives new meaning to the term “stay-cation” because with a outdoor living area as well-appointed as this, who needs to leave the comfort of their backyard home to renew and relax?


When Juan Cardona and the design team at Archadeck of Chester County met with these homeowners in Kennett Square, PA, which is known as the mushroom capital of the world, to create this masterpiece in outdoor design, they had an existing deck that was in dire need of replacing as well as an open deck at the rear of the home with an unsightly concrete slab patio under the deck. The homeowners wish was to create an outdoor area that incorporated a sunroom, less deck and a patio on the lower level. They also wanted to include a built-in cooking area, spa area, and a custom fireplace or fire pit to accommodate their desire to have room and suitable entertaining areas for larger gatherings down below as opposed to having an all-open deck on the second level. The obstacle that had to be overcome was the fact that their yard was on a rather severe slope. In order to deliver the outdoor oasis the homeowners desired, we would have to install some retaining walls to make it happen.

Archadeck of Chester County, PA teamed up with a professional stone mason and together, they quickly put together an integrated plan to totally re-build and re-structure the entire rear of the home. The extensive use of stone walls was used to match the overall look of the existing home, since the entire front of the home was already finished in stone. The suggestion of using stone within the new design offered a dramatic look that harmonized well with the existing property.

The deck was constructed using low maintenance TimberTech XLM in Mountain Cedar which harmonizes perfectly with the old world appeal of the stone used throughout the project. Archadeck of Chester County black Fortress iron railings on TimberTech posts for continuity and fluidity in the deck’s design. On the interior floor of the stunning sunroom they used IPE tongue and groove flooring. The exterior of the room was finished with a stone veneer to match the rest of the patio which includes stone retaining walls, an outdoor kitchen and a custom fire pit. The sunroom also includes Anderson windows. Under the sunroom there is a built-in custom spa also trimmed with stone. The finishing touch to the project was the addition of a maintenance-free pergola of AZEK composite that was painted to match the decking color. The whole design flows effortlessly from structure to structure and looks and feels original to the existing home, which requires perfection in the design and the execution of the design in order to achieve.

If you are ready to turn your backyard into an orchestrated oasis of beauty, style and relaxation, contact Archadeck today and you will be on your way to creating beautiful harmonies within your own little slice of heaven. Schedule a free design consultation or contact us by calling 804.353.6999 or emailing us at [email protected] locate an Archadeck near you to get started.

See more awe-inspiring images of before and after completed jobs by visiting our web site photo galleries

Outdoor Fireplace or Outdoor Fire Pit? Some Considerations.

Fall is in the air, maybe you have noticed it in the wisp of the wind that seem a little crisper than usual, or the way night is upon us sooner with each passing day. There is no denying that the masterpiece that mother nature paints for us each autumn is just around the corner. With cooler temperatures come less insects, less humidity and more time to enjoy the outdoors. Certain outdoor structures just seem to be tailor-made for the fall. Custom outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are among the best candidates for fall focal points within the landscape. Imagine the crackling fire, roasted marshmallows, hot cocoa and conversation. Even though both of these structures offer the warmth and glow of one of natures most intoxicating elements, they differ in many aspects. Deciding which kind of structure is right for you all depends on what you most want to get out of the structure in terms of functionality.

Even though it might seem simple, there is a lot more to it. Most folks think in terms of their budget, they assume that if they have more to invest they will go with the custom outdoor fireplace as opposed to having less, in which case they assume that a fire pit is the lesser investment. Both structures have their advantages, and both structures can be constructed as elaborate or as simple as you wish.


An outdoor fireplace makes a statement within the landscape, or when used in conjunction with another outdoor structure such as on a" patio":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/patios-hardscapes/ or even a covered porch. The fireplace offers a more intimate setting to its users with a typical 90 degree radius of room for entertaining, or to gather around the structure. Outdoor fireplaces require the use of many elements such as design, position, stonework, masonry, gas and plumbing. An experienced licensed builder can assist you in making many of the decisions, but there are many options available with today’s fireplace that can make a simple fireplace an amazing fireplace. From customized mantel pieces, to compartments custom-built within the fireplace to store wood and accessories. Fireplaces can be built in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of beautiful hardscape mediums such as brick, natural stone, and man-made hardscaping materials such as those offered through Belgard. The source of the fire itself can be obtained through gas or propane with a ceramic log that looks like real wood without the messy cleanup , or in some cases a wood burning fireplace may be your best option. Your fireplace design is only limited to your imagination, whether you choose a modern streamlined fireplace with no hearth, or a rustic beauty of natural stone, an outdoor fireplace can really heat up the conversation and the intimacy when entertaining, as a focal point of beauty and relaxation.

Custom fire pits have become a work of art within the world of outdoor structures in their own rite as well. A fire pit can offer you that same ethereal glow and ambiance , and can lend itself to dazzle a larger crowd. Fire pits offer a typical radius area of 180 degrees for entertaining and enjoyment. The addition of a ledge can add seating and a vantage point to enjoy the glow of the fire without having to purchase additional furniture. Fire pits can also be constructed with a large selection of materials, much like the fireplace but can also serve double and even triple jobs that can change from season to season. A fire pit can be easily equipped with a drain which makes it possible to be used as a planter during the summer. It can even serve as a tranquil water feature as long as there is an exterior outlet nearby. Archadeck of Austin wrote a story about a homeowner who created an “all season” structure with her fire pit, you can read the story by visiting" http://austindeckandpatiobuilder.com/2011/03/14/a-flame-of-many-colors-a-fire-pit-with-multiple-personalities-integrated-into-the-design/":http://ww1.austindeckandpatiobuilder.com/ Custom fire pits can also be equipped with a dazzling array of glowing glass fire rocks that come in a wide variety of colors. Fire pits that are powered by gas can even have a gas star installed where the flame is emitted in a unique star pattern.


Even though both these fireside outdoor structures differ greatly, they both have the ability to set a mood and change a mood for the better. Archadeck can plan, design and build a custom outdoor fireplace or fire pit that is ablaze with quality and style, and can turn your autumn into something really “wonderfall”. Contact us today to learn more 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

You can also see more tantalizing outdoor fireplaces and fire pits by visiting our photo galleries at http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Archadeck lays the foundation to your fantasy with the perfect patio.


There is nothing quite like summer. We all wish for an endless summer of sunshine, a landscape of forever green, flowers that never stop blooming and cherished time spent with family and friends among the great outdoors. With a beautiful custom-built patio “Archadeck”:http://example.com you can make this wonderful time of the year even more special. Whatever your mood, walking onto a stylish patio by Archadeck can turn even the cloudiest day into sunshine.


The origins of the patio come from deep within the history of Spain. The actual word itself was borrowed from Spain and means “an inner courtyard or paved area that is adjacent to the home”. With today’s homeowners discriminating tastes, we offer patios custom-built in a manner to express your individuality . From scored and stamped concrete, natural stone and hardscapes such as Belgard pavers. From modern to rustic we can build a patio to suit your needs and complement your homes integrity, creating the kind of backyard you dream about.


Of course, today’s patios wouldn’t be complete without the proper accoutrements to define and complement your space. The perfect patio furniture and accessories create the perfect way to turn up the style on your patio by Archadeck. Patio furniture such as those seen in catalogs like Frontgate offer European inspired outdoor furnishings, and those in Grandin Road offer a more casual, contemporary feel. From Teak, to wrought iron to the elegance of wicker, the choices are endless.

If modern, clean, crisp lines are your style imagine a stain and stamp patio finished with a stunning suite of contemporary metal furnishings with a sleek design. The pairing of carefully chosen outdoor furnishings on your patio can pull everything together like a harmonious work of art.

Maybe a laid back rustic country chic attitude is more your choice. The vision proceeds with rustic old world hardscape detailing underfoot along with washed wooden furniture with overstuffed cushions to wisp you away to comfort. Whatever your taste, whatever your fancy Archadeck can lay the foundations to your fantasy with a custom-built patio or outdoor structure.


Patios, whether covered or uncovered create the perfect place for entertaining, cooking, relaxing and spending quality time with the ones you hold close to your heart. Not only do they provide function, their form provides the perfect complement to your home and landscape. A patio is a wise investment in terms of adding value to your home. Constructed of durable and long-lasting materials that withstand the elements better than wood, a patio is a solid choice in terms of materials and as an investment.

Contact Archadeck today to find out more about creating the perfect patio to fit your lifestyle. 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

You can see more beautiful patios in our photo gallery by visiting http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Belgard introduces Archadeck as a new addition to their authorized dealer network with rave reviews.


Belgard recently introduced Archadeck as a new addition to their authorized dealer network and we couldn’t be more ecstatic. Belgard is one of the industry’s top manufacturers of hardscapes such as pavers and retaining walls. Archadeck is proud to be authorized dealers of Belgard in our locations throughout the country. Our partnership with Belgard reinforces our goal of using the finest materials to create America’s best outdoor spaces.

Belgard uses a multi-step design guidance presentation that incorporates design, color, shape and texture. Their motto is “be prepared for company”, and by using this design guide in preparation for having Archadeck build your outdoor structure, you can rest assured the structure you get will be the envy of the neighborhood.

The design guide helps homeowners with four basic steps.


The first step is to decide what your outdoor structure be used for. Will it primarily be used to entertain? Or will it just be used as a sanctuary for relaxing with the family? Considerations in your personal tastes and how you want your outdoor structure to impact your life will play a key role in what type of hardscapes will work best in your design.

The second step is to consider your owns home’s architecture. The goal with any good outdoor structure is to work in harmony with your existing structures and complement their differences and what they have in common. " You want to work with the grain instead of against the grain" in terms of how your outdoor hardscape structure will affect what you already have.


The next step when creating a memorable hardscape design is to extend the visual line from the corners, doors and windows in order to incorporate your landscape design into the big scheme of things by creating shapes to play up the landscape in your own backyard. The goal here is to see the package in its entirety and not draw the eye to one specific area, a good hardscape design harmonizes with your home, and your yard.

Finally, size matters. When you imagine your perfect outdoor hardscape structure in your mind once it is finished and every little detail is in place, do you see your outdoor furnishings? Are your chairs neatly tucked in? When considering what size structure is best for you always remember that you need ample space to move around when the furniture is in use. Take leg room into consideration, and pull out room for the chairs as well. This is a simple step, but a crucial one in how much enjoyment you get from your structure in terms of “real life” use. Those pretty pictures in magazines are depicting the area not in use. Thinking outside the box will help you achieve optimal pleasure when using your structure.

You can learn more about Belgard’s design guide at http://www.belgard.biz/


If you are ready to enjoy your outdoor to the fullest with a hardscape outdoor structure custom-built by Archadeck and using the beautiful Belgard products contact us today to learn more. With Archadeck and Belgard you get quality and beauty underfoot. 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

You can view our beautiful gallery of hardscape outdoor structures at http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

A paver patio by Archadeck is built tough from the ground up.


Paver patios can be simply extraordinary in terms of design and the rustic elegance they encompass. Paver patios are full of personality and the selection of patterns, textures and hues they come in can be customized to reflect a homeowners personal taste and style. Taking all this into consideration, pavers are even more amazing because of their strength. A professionally installed paver patio can withstand several thousand pounds of pressure. I am sure your average dinner party or family get-together outside on the patio would never put this to the test, but the fact of the matter is the cohesive combined strength which is evident in a paver patio is not only strong but it is versatile. A paver patio can be extended in the future if you so wish, and replacing an individual paver is easy. Many people don’t realize what elements go into constructing a paver patio, but I am here to tell you, they are built tough from the ground up.


Archadeck begins by digging out the area where the patio will be installed. They do this by digging down about 9 inches. Then “roadbase” is brought in, which is basically a rock filler. It is then compacted down with a machine that will bring it to 6 inches of thickness. Once the roadbase is well compacted, sand is put down. The pavers are then placed atop the sand and compacted down using the compaction machinery again, this will cause the sand to come up through the joints of the pavers. Following this step a layer of Polymeric sand is put atop that, which is again compacted and the sand is brushed in. The top layer of sand has an added polymer which when water is applied, acts as a binder, which binds the sand so there is no loose sand. To ensure nothing washes away beneath these layers Archadeck installs a geo-grid to hold everything in place.


In the case of a paver patio if there are any upward pressure points or issues this generally happens early on, within the first year following installation. If this happens it is an easy fix, by breaking out any area that is presenting a problem and fixing it. The key to a paver patio is the base, making sure it is leveled and properly compacted.

Paver patios also pack another punch, they are less likely to fade than a stain-and-score concrete patio and will not show signs of wear. Concrete patios such as a stain and score are also more likely to crack, whereas part of a paver patios charm are the cracks themselves (joints) and any give will affect the joint and the paver itself will not crack.


Pavers can be used in more designs than just patios. Today’s paver is not a one trick pony, it is used to build retaining walls, benches, fire pits, fireplaces# and so much more. Archadeck uses Belgard pavers. Their quality, style, textures and color choices are unsurpassed in the industry. Most of the pavers sold in your “big box” home improvement stores lack the quality to withstand the test of time, and offer very little selection.

If you are ready to take the leap and add a patio to your backyard, contact Archadeck to get you started on your way to a real eye catcher with the muscle to match. 888.687.3325

You can also visit our photo gallery to view patio designs that will take your breath away http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

An Outdoor Fireplace Adds Instant Ambiance to Any Landscape

Chilly evenings are still around in some northern US cities and towns. Locations such as Cape Cod, and other northern towns are well-known for their warm days and chilly evenings all the way into the hottest parts of the summer. Even out west, dry arid daytime conditions lead into rather cool evenings. The sometimes-extreme differences in temperature from daylight to dark add to the charm of these locations.

The outdoor fireplace is a perfect addition to those cool evenings. Imagine relaxing with family and friends on the cape with the ocean as your backdrop. An evening of laughter, roasting marshmallows, ocean air, conversation, a crackling fire and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Archadeck can make that dream a reality. We can design and build that outdoor fireplace you have been dreaming of. With a huge variety of shapes, styles and colors to choose from. We can build your fireplace of natural stone or faux stone. We can design a large fireplace that will really make a statement to your landscape, or an intimate fire pit with room to pull up a chair and relax. The choices are only limited to your imagination.

Even if you live in an area of the country that doesn’t experience cool evenings an outdoor fireplace is still a great addition to your summer landscape. Not only does an outdoor fireplace create an instant “gathering” area for conversation and ambiance even when not in use. When in use it deters bugs from entering the area and trying to ruin the fun.

If you are thinking it is time to build that outdoor fireplace you’ve been yearning for, summer is a great time. Contact Archadeck to find out more about heating up your landscape with this beautiful addition.

Imagine your Outdoor Oasis with Hardscapes


Imagine your outdoor oasis…a stone fireplace with surround patio floor of contrasting pavers set against the backdrop of nature and the sky. Have you taken a deep breath yet? Or maybe a pool patio hardscape with a covered patio flowing out into the horizon. The dream is yours- Archadeck can make it a reality.

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Transforming your outdoor place into an unforgettable space is a lot easier than you think. Archadeck has many hardscapes to satisfy even the most discriminating customer. We now offer the Belgard products in addition to our other hardscapes. Belgard is unsurpassed in quality and style. We custom design each job with your input and we have hardscaping to fit any budget.


If you are considering a change from the deck or patio you have now, or if you are starting from a blank canvas, Archadeck turn your backyard into a work of art.

Multi-level hardscapes have become a staple in outdoor structures and beautification. The true meaning of a hardscape is the man made part of the grounds surrounding a building, as paved areas and structures, but it is so much more than that. The beauty and variety of today’s hardscapes take on a personality of their own. Hardscapes can be used to create barriers, driveways, sidewalks, walls, floors, water features, railings, fire features such as fire pits and fireplaces, planters and many more structures. The choices in hardscaping materials are as large as all the things you can build with hardscapes. Hardscapes can be natural or man made, such as stone, pavers, concrete, brick and the list goes on and on.

Keep The Home Fires Burning With An Outdoor Fireplace

I know you have all noticed the beautiful outdoor fireplaces that are all over town and in every home and garden magazine on the bookshelf. You have probably pictured yourself and your family nestled around the warm, crackling fire under the stars sipping on a cup of something yummy and relaxing in the moment. The appearance of outdoor fireplaces is becoming increasingly popular. The addition of this type of structure can add value to your home and also give you many years of enjoyment. An outdoor fireplace can make the outdoor habits you avoid during the cooler months a welcome end to a long day, even in the winter.

Alongside other outdoor structures the outdoor fireplace is the “glue” that holds everything together. When considering an outdoor fireplace you first have to decide on the exact spot where you want your fireplace. The spot should be far enough away from the home, plants and other flammable structures as possible. This does not mean your fireplace cannot be built alongside or incorporated into a deck or outdoor structure. Local and state building codes have guidelines set for height requirements and setbacks, your professional Archadeck installer will be able to help you with the placement of your outdoor fireplace to ensure it is safe as well as beautiful. You also need to take into consideration your surroundings that will be blocked by the fireplace. A see-through outdoor fireplace is an option for homeowners that don’t want to block the view of that serene garden or tranquil water feature.

You want to choose a fireplace design that fits in scale with the size of your yard and your home. If there is stone or stucco on your home, you may consider incorporating these to complement the surroundings. You can also bring in architectural elements into the shape of your chimney or mantle. You want the structure to blend and become a natural looking part of your outdoor area.

You also need to decide what you want the fireplace to be used for. Are you interested in an intimate area to create ambiance or a focal point to anchor an outdoor room? If you entertain larger groups of people often you will want the scale a bit grander, because people tend to gravitate toward the warmth of the fire, especially in cooler months. In this case you may even consider dual fireplaces places across from one another.

Right now is a great time to plan and even have Archadeck install your outdoor fireplace. With the drier and more hospitable weather conditions afoot, now is the time to start pouring those foundations and gathering the firewood. In many parts of the country an outdoor fireplace can be used year round. Even in the west where the temperatures soar, you can still enjoy some conversation and cocoa on those chilly western nights.

Outdoor fireplaces create a feeling of romance. The glow of the flickering fire invites you to sit down and relax. The flickering fire can be achieved using gas or by burning wood, the choice is yours Today’s fireplaces can even have built-in seating such as curved stone, which is beautiful and functional. Contact your local Archadeck today to see just how easy it can be to keep the home fires burning by carving out your own little slice of heaven.

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are the perfect way to welcome the cooler weather

Last night was a very cold Halloween so we carted our very small but wonderful portable metal fire pit out around to the front of the house and made a big fire to keep us warm as we sat out and gave out candy. My husband, not knowing all the beautiful jobs I write about every day, was wishing our portable outdoor dream environment could somehow have a big screen TV. He mused about how nice it would be to have a permanent outdoor room.

Although the portable fire pit does make for one nice evening, an outdoor room is what’s needed to enjoy many evenings outdoors. Our Archadeck location in Charlotte just finished building a screened porch over a deck. Here is a quick video overview of the project.

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This house in Charlotte had an existing deck that needed to be torn down. The homeowner knew they wanted a screened porch with an outdoor fireplace. They also knew they had some drainage issues that they needed addressed during the build.

Archadeck of Charlotte proposed a screened porch with a corner fireplace and Eze-Breeze windows.

Here is an after picture.

You can see that part of the design was also to build an extended portion of the deck that was open. When building an outdoor living space, that’s precisely the time to explore creating a space with multiple “rooms” or multiple unique living areas. This can be accomplished by having a portion of the deck or patio covered. It can be done by having a portion of the deck screened in. It can even be accomplished with multi-level decks and patios. Just the same way different members of your family have their own favorite room of the house, this allows multiple outside living areas for different pursuits.

Here is another after picture from inside the screened porch.

Inside the screened porch with a view of the fireplace
This screened porch is a nice generous size – 17′ × 19′. There’s plenty of room for furniture and to still have some open floor space. The fireplace is a functioning gas fireplace.

Here is an image of the second section of the deck which is the uncovered section.

Again, this area is large enough to easily accommodate furniture and still provide walking and other room.

As I mentioned before, the client was concerned about the slope of his backyard. Archadeck installed some drainage counter-measures to make sure the rain didn’t rush against the house. They installed a catch basin and drain tile to work in concert with river stone placed under the deck and porch.

When looking for a builder for your next outdoor project, it’s important to have them explore all of these different ideas and considerations with you. Tell them how you want to live and if you have concerns about things like drainage. A good builder should be able to explain the choices of materials and give you the pros and cons. They should be able to come up with creative ideas you might not have thought of as well as create to the specifications that are important to you.

In Charlotte, you can call Archadeck at (704) 944 – 1350.

You can visit the Archadeck of Charlotte website here or read their blog here.

Outdoor life IS good with an outdoor fireplace on your screen porch

Looking at this photo, I can’t help but notice the sign that says Life is Good. With an outdoor fireplace on my screen porch, life certainly would be good. It offers the best of both worlds – the ability to enjoy the screen porch when it’s cool or even cold outside – and the ability to just enjoy the screen porch when it’s warmer outside.

Perhaps life might even be better with the same setup including a built-in large screen TV!

I love the blankets on the chairs in this photo. I want to jump in one of those chairs, snuggle up with a blanket and enjoy this screened porch year round.

Eric Kent of Archadeck of Charlotte is amazed, but pleased, with the demand for outdoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits in the Charlotte NC area.

This next outdoor fireplaces includes sitting benches to the sides and a paver patio. This fireplace’s design includes focal geometric tiles along with a traditional stone pattern.

This next fireplace is built using various stones in a unique pattern and adjoins to a custom paver patio. This setup has a very open feel with no other adjoining structures for a different, more outdoorsy feel.

One of the things I especially love about this design is the chimney topper integrating the color red. It’s these small details that Eric’s design team adds to their custom outdoor fireplace designs that truly make their jobs custom.

This next design integrates their outdoor fireplace with a pergola for some shade relief, and a privacy fence over their custom outdoor deck

Outdoor fireplace with pergola and privacy fence over custom outdoor deck fireplace with pergola and privacy fence over custom outdoor deck
Here is a close-up of the fireplace in this design…

This last outdoor fireplace adjoins with a TimberTech deck. This is another more intimate design with the deck rails allowing for a grouping of chairs to sit and talk around the fire.

Eric Kent writes frequently on his blog about outdoor fireplaces, firepits, and kitchens.

Archadeck of the Charlotte area covers these areas and more in the Charlotte area – Albemarle, Charlotte, Concord, Davidson, Hickory, Huntersville, Kannapolis, Lenoir, Lincolnton, Longview, Lumberton, Matthews, Monroe, Mooresville, Morganton, Rockingham, Salisbury, Shelby, Statesville, Waxhaw, Weddington, Wesley Chapel, Wilson, Wingate

In the South Carolina area, they also service Fort Mill, Lancaster and Rock Hill SC.

You can follow @Charlotte_Decks on Twitter and view some videos on YouTube.

For a free consultation, call (704) 944 – 1350 or email [email protected]

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