Blog Outdoor Kitchens

The Perfect Outdoor Kitchen Just for You

When it comes to design and needs, we’re all a little different, and it shows in both indoor and outdoor design. When creating an outdoor living space for one of our clients, our Archadeck designers are sure to discuss the clients goals and how they intend to use the space thoroughly. Even within the same type of project, the needs can be vastly different. Here are some examples of outdoor kitchen designs that were created with the household’s chef in mind.

The first project comes from Archadeck of Austin. They designed a covered patio with stained concrete for the homeowners. When the weather is nice, the owners prefer to cook and dine outdoors, so they needed a well-equipped outdoor kitchen. This curved design fit the needs by providing plenty of space for prep and cooking. There’s a grill and smoker as well as an outdoor refrigerator to store food and drinks. Counter space was of utmost importance and the curved U-shape provides the perfect result. Because the owners would like to talk as they cook and eat outdoors, a bar-height counter was included as a dining space.

The free form rock works perfectly with the stained concrete for the rustic look they were looking for.

This second example is much more classic in design with straight lines and natural stone square and rectangular pavers. While these owners only needed a grill and stove for cooking, they still wanted a lot of counter space for buffet style parties. One side of the outdoor kitchen was dedicated to counter space for food prep and presentation. It was also important to the owners that all the dirty dishes aren’t brought inside all the time so a corner sink was installed for on the go cleaning.

Our final project to display is the ultimate outdoor kitchen for the gourmet chef. The owners of this space LOVE to cook outdoors and they love pizza! A custom wood-fired pizza oven was designed and built to create the perfect pizza (there is even an area to store wood underneath). Additionally, there is a grill, stove, sink and refrigerator. With ample prep space, and a bar that can fit 6 diners, there is no reason to go inside!

All three of these outdoor kitchen designs are vastly different, but each of them fulfills the needs of the homeowner. If you’re interested in creating the perfect outdoor cooking space in your area, please contact your local Archadeck 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.

An outdoor living space that has it all

When it comes to creating a custom patio or deck design, we at Archadeck like to have a clear understanding of how you intend to use the space. Do you need space for cooking? Dining? Relaxing? Homeowners who may not know the type of structure they want still have an idea of how they’d like to use the space. From there, our trained designers can map out a space that is perfect for them.

When I saw this project from our Archadeck of Central Maryland office, I knew I had to share it. It has a ton of living space without being too overwhelming.

The owners of this property like to spend as much time as possible outside when the weather permits. By designing a multi-level space, John Barrett of Archadeck was able to create clearly defined areas for the owners, each one just as beautiful as the next.

At the lowest level (to the right on picture) is a large paver patio. It’s an open area that provides easy access to the yard below. A custom outdoor kitchen was constructed closer to the home’s back door so the chef can easily go to and from the kitchen. John and his team recommended a light stone paver with subtle grey variations since the home is brick. Brick would have been too overwhelming throughout the space.

Up a few steps is a small deck area with two lounge chairs. The homeowners enjoy laying out in the sun from time to time, and this spot is the perfect transitional area. The octagonal shape keeps it fun and interesting and because it has steps on all sides a railing isn’t necessary by law. Railings are incredibly important for safety purposes, but can make structures look closed off. Without railings, this deck is way more open to the rest of the yard.

Just one step up is a dining and entertaining area. The deck is just a few steps away from the outdoor and indoor kitchens, making it easy to serve dinner outside. Again, John and the homeowners didn’t want to block off the space with railings. Instead, a built in bench and planter were used. They not only look great, but the bench provides plenty of additional seating for friends and family.

The last level of the space is an open porch that works as an outdoor living room. Guests can escape the sun and cozy up underneath the roof structure.

If you have questions on designing outdoor living spaces to fit your needs, please contact your local" Archadeck":https://www.archadeck.com/ 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.

Move it Outdoors with an Outdoor Kitchen

At Archadeck, we pride ourselves on enhancing the outdoor experience for our clients. We want them to use their outdoor living spaces as much as they can and one trend that we’ve seen growing and growing over the last few years is the outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor cooking has come a long way in just a few short years. What was once just a grill on the deck or patio is a now a fully functional outdoor preparation and cooking space with grills, sinks, stovetops, refrigerators and more. And they can be custom designed to fit your cooking needs, your outdoor living space, and your budget. Here are three very different outdoor kitchens that fit the needs of the homeowner.

This first homeowner has a multilevel deck in their yard. They wanted to transform the lower area into a full outdoor kitchen and dining area. Instead of creating a dining area with a table, they wanted to have an bar to eat at making conversation easy while the chef was hard at work preparing dinner. This family really enjoys cooking, so they wanted more than just a built in grill, they wanted a sink, a stove and a wood burning pizza oven for their homemade pizza. Under the pizza oven is an area for them to store wood. The large U-shape of the kitchen provides more than enough counter space and room for multiple people to prepare meals.

This next outdoor kitchen is much simpler than the first, but it was perfect for what the homeowners needed. They were looking for a space for a built-in grill, warmer and some counter space, but didn’t need room for eating. This L-shape kitchen did just the trick and it complements the finish of the patio that it was added to. The patio is made primarily of a grey concrete with some grey pavers in certain areas. Archadeck used stone with grey undertones to make both spaces work together.

Lastly, this example is in the galley shape and sits on a covered porch. The homeowners wanted a space that would work as an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor bar and a place to watch TV. The galley layout allows us to provide both along with plenty of counter and storage space. By using the space against the wall as the main cooking area (with a sink, grill and refrigerator) the other side can fit the bar need and face a wall mounted TV.

If you are considering an outdoor kitchen for your backyard, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. One of our trained designers is sure to design a space that is perfect for you.

Building a patio – so much more than you see

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Building a Deck at Archadeck Corporate Headquarters

It’s been a few weeks since we updated you on the progress of our deck and patio installation at the Archadeck Outdoor Living headquarters, and there has been a lot done! We have a fully installed and functional outdoor kitchen and the large deck is in progress.

We didn’t show you in the last picture, but there is a smaller patio that is set down beyond the deck. It was installed at the same time as the rest of the Belgard paver patio and retaining walls. We designed the space with this extra patio for our outdoor kitchen as it could be a little removed from everything else. Our team of designers kept the layout of the kitchen simple, with a large grill (yes, we already broke it in) and some counter and storage space. The kitchen was finished with a natural stone to complement the Belgard patio pavers, but we chose a dark black countertop to dress it up a bit.

Once the patio and outdoor kitchen were complete, the Archadeck team of deck builders was hard at work on this 900 square foot composite deck. The footings were dug prior to the patio going down, but the deck frame took a few days to complete before the county inspected it. The frame was built using a pressure treated wood and you can see that each beam and joist were securely put in place with large bolts as no deck can be safely built with only nails (that’s a deck collapse waiting to happen).

After the county inspector came on site and passed the deck frame, we began laying our deck boards. For the decking material, we chose a TimberTech composite from their Evolution line. As we hope to get a lot of use out of the deck, including hosting corporate events, we needed something that would stand up against scratches and wear and tear, which TimberTech does.

You notice in the picture of the decking going down that you don’t see a lot of nails, and that’s because there aren’t any. These decking boards have hidden fasteners that lock everything in place without the need for nails, which helps create a clean look.

While building the deck, we also constructed the stairs leading down to the outdoor kitchen and small patio. The framing of the stairs were inspected at the same time as the deck and the decking began shortly after.

Unfortunately, as with many outdoor builds, Mother Nature hasn’t been too cooperative and has put us a little bit behind. The team is finishing the decking and then will begin on the railings. The railings will be white vinyl from TimberTech that will border the entire deck for safety and code purposes.

If you have questions about designing custom decks, porches, patios, sunrooms or some combination thereof, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck and Patio Installation Begins at Archadeck Headquarters

Several weeks ago, we announced that we at Archadeck Outdoor Living’s corporate office are getting a new outdoor living area. We are thrilled to let you know that after some weather delays, we officially broke ground today!

To recap, up until now, our corporate office has been of void of any outdoor living structures (we know, it’s sad considering what we do). This year, we decided to change that and designed this custom deck and patio combination project. A large pergola will cover part of deck for shade and built in benches and retaining walls will provide places to sit throughout the space.

Last week all of the patio material was delivered and trust me, it is a lot of pavers. Included in the material is the outdoor fireplace that will be installed on the project.

In preparation for the first phase of building, we had to file for building permits. After the county reviewed our plans and specifications, we were able to grid out the deck and patio on the property. Victor, our Director of Construction and Drafting who is spearheading the build for us, went outside with members of his team and sprayed a pink paint to illustrate where the building will take place. This allows the sub-contractors to envision the space and know exactly where to build. With the paint and permits in place, we were ready to build! Of course, Mother Nature had other plans for us. After a few days of rain, the ground needed to dry out a bit before we started digging. And finally today we were ready!

The first phase of the build is the patio and footings for the deck. This morning, bright and early, bulldozers started digging into our lawn to grade the area. Grading is the process of leveling out the ground. For us, the land that we are building the patio is uneven, sloping down to the road. The bulldozer cuts out the grass and dirt to level the area so that when the patio is built is it sturdy and level. It has been pretty interesting to see the difference in just a day, these guys are fast! Grading is also key for the drainage of the patio. Uneven surfaces hold water and puddle instead of properly draining and may cause future problems.

The footings for the structure will also be dug this week. Footings are the load bearing parts of an outdoor living structure. Before we start building the deck portion of the project, a county inspector will come out and test the ground and evaluate our footings. When they are all given the green light, we will be ready for to start the deck!

Everyone here is more than excited for an outdoor space at the office. On a beautiful day like today, it would be wonderful to have a nice spot to sit and hold a quick meeting while enjoying the sunshine. Our goal in designing the space was to create a combination project that not only features some our most commonly built structures, but also to create a space that is usable. By including the outdoor fireplace and outdoor kitchen, we are ensuring that it is used. The other offices that are part of the building are just as excited to have a space to enjoy the outdoors as well!

Deck and Patio Design for Optimal Outdoor Entertaining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Kitchen Tools that Enhance Your Cooking and Dining Experience

At Archadeck, we love creating custom outdoor kitchen designs that fit our clients’ needs, tastes and budgets. The majority of the outdoor kitchens we build include a built-in grill and counter space. Having a space outdoors to prepare and cook your food is great, but a set of simple tools will enhance your outdoor cooking and dining experience even more. Here are some tools and accessories that we find incredibly helpful.

A good grill set. When it comes to cooking outdoors, you need more than just a spatula. At the very least, we recommend a high-quality grill set that includes a spatula, tongs, basting brush and grill fork. There are some sets that have upwards of 10 pieces, but these four pieces will cover the majority of your grilling needs. When choosing your grill set, make sure that they’re sturdy (stainless steel is a popular choice) so they last for multiple seasons.


Grill brush. Have you ever looked at a grill that had the burnt crust on the grates? I sure have. That happens when a grill isn’t properly cleaned before or after cooking. A grill brush with steel bristles will remove the majority of if not all built up dirt. The grates should be cleaned off after each use to make it easier as you go.

Meat thermometer. This is especially important for those picky eaters. It can sometimes be difficult to determine how well cooked a piece of meat is while grilling. A reliable meat thermometer will ensure your meat is prepared just how you like it.

Grill Basket. When it is grilling season, I like to cook the majority of my meal components right on the grill. That, however, can be difficult without a good grill basket. Baskets for the grill come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I have a simple square one that I use to cook veggies, but there are options for specific purposes as well, like fish and corn. Baskets make sure that whatever you are cooking doesn’t fall through the grates and become inedible.

Barbecue Light. Don’t let the sun going down stop your grilling fun and keep it going with a grill light. Custom outdoor kitchen designs often include some type of lighting component, but there are plenty of light fixtures that are specifically designed to be around the grill. When looking for one, make sure that they are indeed built to withstand the heat (there are specific barbecue lights, like these, that are made for grilling).

Unbreakable dishes and glasses. For me, it’s always easier to use unbreakable dishes when entertaining or eating outdoors. You never know when something may slip and fall and it’s more difficult to clean up glass outside than in. Just because you aren’t using glass dishes doesn’t mean you have to abandon your sense of style, however. There are a ton of great outdoor dishes, like these options from Pottery Barn. Melamine and plastic are both good materials for outdoor dining.

These are just a few of the outdoor cooking accessories that are available, but we at Archadeck are big fans of anything that makes your outdoor living experience more enjoyable. If you have questions regarding outdoor kitchens, contact your local Archadeck office.

Archadeck Outdoor Living Gets Dream Backyard of its Own

We at Archadeck Outdoor Living pride ourselves on being the experts in outdoor living structures. Whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other project, we design and build the backyards of our clients’ dreams. I hate to admit it, but despite being America’s oldest and largest deck builder, our corporate office’s outdoor living space is lacking. Actually, it doesn’t really exist right now, but we are thrilled to say that that will be changing soon!

Since we are currently in the middle of a $70,000 dream backyard makeover contest, we decided it was time to build our dream space too! Our corporate design staff of draftsmen have designed the perfect outdoor living space for our corporate offices that will soon be underway. I, of course, will be sharing photos and details of how it is coming throughout the process. To start, I want to show you what the plans look like.

As you can see in the first 3D rendering and the photo, our corporate office’s property doesn’t look like a place the outdoor living experts work. We, along with the other companies that we share our building with, wanted a place to enjoy the outdoors when the weather permits. Since we would be the ones designing and building the space, we created a combination structure to show our corporate partners, franchisees and potential franchisees.

The first step in the process is to get permission from the building owners to make the significant enhancements to the property. Much like our system of porch, patio and deck builders do with their clients, our corporate team presented them with several options to consider. An outdoor living project is a significant investment and it’s important to us that our clients feel confident in their purchase when they sign a contract. To ensure that is the case, our design options are presented in 3D renderings that depict what the space will look like on their property. These renders have our entire office waiting impatiently for the space to be available.

These renderings show the final design that is currently with the county for permits. The project will consist of a new paver walkway that leads to an upper paver patio surrounded by seating walls and a fireplace. There will be two entrances off the patio to a 900 square foot composite deck loaded with benches throughout. Since Virginia can bring plenty of hot summer days, a large pergola will cover and shade a large part of the deck. On the far end of the deck there will be a set of stairs that lead to a lower paver patio with outdoor an outdoor kitchen (company cookouts, here we come!)

For the detail-oriented, here are the specifications of the space: The deck will be a little over 900 square feet. In addition, it will have 105 linear feet of white, vinyl railings, 38 linear feet of composite bench, composite trim and solid board skirting. There will be a total of two pergolas, an entrance one, comprised of 34 square feet and the second one that covers part of the deck will be 484 square feet.

As for the paver component, the space will have a total of 1,020 total square feet of Belgard Holland Stone, 108 linear feet of seating wall and 4 stone columns. On the upper patio there will be a 9 foot wide fireplace and an outdoor kitchen on the lower patio.

We are all excited to build and enjoy the new outdoor living space. We are currently waiting for all of the local permits to go through before we break ground on the space. Sit tight for updates!

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!

Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas for the Ultimate Cooking Experience

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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