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:
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!
With less than two weeks to enter the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover Contest, we’ve already had over 1400 entries. I’ve really enjoyed reading how people would like to use their backyard. Outdoor entertaining has emerged as a large theme within the entries. 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.
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.
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!
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.
My aunt is an extremely creative person and has been for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t surprising to me when she went back to school to learn how to restructure homes to make them work better for the homeowner. Her specialty is working with existing homes and drawing out changes that improve the flow or usability of the space. A family friend recently turned to her to help with her beach house and the before and after is amazing. A simple change of the layout or design changed the space entirely.
Outdoor living design, like interior design, can increase the function of a space, as well as make the structure look beautiful. With decks, porches, pergolas, patios, sunrooms, outdoor kitchens, etc, the possibilities in outdoor design are endless, but it has to be done correctly. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we ask our clients about their needs, wants, tastes and budgets to create a design that will achieve their goals.
Last week, I mentioned the Archadeck dream backyard makeover contest. One lucky person will receive a $70,000 backyard makeover that will include a deck and patio component. I honestly cannot wait to see what out franchisees come up with for the design. Some of the photos I’ve seen come in will benefit greatly from someone truly thinking about the space, the surrounding areas, the house and how the space will be used. We are thinking way beyond the concrete slab people!
We are accepting entries for the contest through April 20th. You can submit your photo and a description of your dream backyard on our Facebook page here. Make sure to tell us, in 200 words or less, how you envision using the space, that way your deck and patio design will be just what you wanted!
The common denominator to any great outdoor living space is a great design. A great design not only takes the clients wants, tastes and budget into account, but also the existing home and the property that it is being built on. When it comes to great patio designs, the opportunities are endless.
At Archadeck outdoor living, we have built over 100,000 outdoor living spaces, many of which have included a patio structure. Our designers take great pride in creating patios that are gorgeous and functional. There are several pieces to the design that they pay particular attention to:
Shape. Too many homes have the standard 5ft by 5ft concrete slab off the back of their home. What a waste! So much more can be created and built. Many of our clients want a space that has straight lines that mirror the lines of the home, while others want something different. Curving the edges of the patio is a different style that is just as nice. A softer line often creates a more fluid open feel to an outdoor space.
Material. A good patio design takes the existing property into account and enhances it. What the patio is made of is a key component. There are so many different styles of patio products that we are positive there is something for you. If you like a classic look, a brick or rectangular stone may work beautifully in your space. If you prefer a more natural look, there are natural stones, or products that look like natural stone that may hold up better. Stamped concrete is another popular product as it can be colored or stamped with numerous designs.
Layout. If an outdoor living space is going to be utilized for numerous purposes, it is important the different areas are defined. While this can be achieved with outdoor furniture, it can also be done through design. Adding multiple layers is one way to do this. One area may be used for cooking and eating that has an outdoor kitchen and dining table and two steps down there may be a living room set up with couches and chairs. Another way to define spaces is done through the installation of materials. A different finish may be used or the same product may be used but placed in the opposite direction.
Lastly, a great patio design incorporates design features that are practical. Design features can take numerous forms including retaining walls, planters, benches, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits. It all depends on what the client wants. These finishing touches don’t always have to be part of the original build, but rather added later.
If you have questions about patio design, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.
Outdoor fireplaces are a great gathering space for friends and family. Available in a wide range of styles (for a wide range of budgets), the type of outdoor fireplace you choose for your home shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take time to consider what works best for your home and you’ll enjoy not only your time around the fireplace, but also a return on investment when it’s time to sell your home.
A beautiful, modern design may include a concrete fireplace with a concrete bench attached. It’s stunning on the pages of the magazine. But, it doesn’t fit the style of your country home in the Midwest. So how do you know what works best for your home?
- Identify the style of your home. Friends or family may know, or you can browse the Internet for this information.
- Look at your design elements you utilize. The types of items you choose in your home will also appeal to you outside your home.
- Browse the Internet and the pages of your favorite design magazines to find styles that appeal to you. Even if you can’t have that exact fireplace, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of fireplace you want.
The perfect outdoor fireplace may need some adaptation so it’s the perfect outdoor fireplace for your backyard. Look at your options practically so you know the fireplace you choose is the best option.
Outdoor fireplaces are not allowed in every neighborhood. Check with city officials to find out if you can obtain a permit to install an outdoor fireplace.
Materials you choose for your fireplace should stand up to your climate. If you live in an area with ample rainfall, the materials you’re able to choose from will be different from areas with desert-like climates.
Consider the area where you will install your fireplace and make sure the setting sun doesn’t blind you when you gather around it.
Sparks generated by the fireplace should not be able to reach power lines or trees. It’s also important to keep a fire extinguisher nearby. An outdoor fireplace can also bring the most elaborate deck ideas to life, but be sure to choose materials that can sufficiently contain the flames and keep your deck out of harm’s way.
A small yard may not accommodate a large fireplace. Alternately, if you have a large space, you need a fireplace that looks proportional.
With a little planning, and a lot of dialogue with a great contractor like Archadeck, you’re sure to enjoy an outdoor fireplace that’s both enjoyable for your family and a good investment for your home.
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.
It’s that time of year again, Christmas time. I love to go on walks and drive around neighborhoods this time of year to see the different outdoor decorations on display. Some are traditional while some have wonderful themes. When growing up, there was a house in our town that every year had a who-ville theme from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
If you are looking for some ideas to decorate your outdoor living areas this holiday season, take a look at these:
Christmas Trees. Instead of lighting up the trees in your yard, buy a Christmas tree for your deck, porch or patio. You can get outdoor string lights and ornaments that can withstand the harsh winter elements. Doesn’t this deck in Atlanta look beautiful with the tree?
Use what you have. If you have outdoor features that mainly go unused in the winter, dress it up for the holidays! Placing greenery with berries or pinecones in a bird bath and planters or around a statue will make it stand out and it’s easy!
Garland. While garland is beautiful when placed around columns, railing and doors, hanging it in unexpected places can dress up your outdoor living spaces. For example, if you have an open porch, arbor pergola or gazebo, hang garland from the roofline or in the lattice as seen in this picture from Better Homes and Gardens. You could also hang it off the back of your outdoor furniture.
Wrap it up. If you have outdoor pillows, tie a Christmas ribbon around them making them look like presents. To see what I mean, take a look at this post from Worthing Court.
Lights. Lights are obviously a key component of the holiday season. Placing lights in, above or around a space instantly dresses it up for the holidays.
Anyone else have some ideas?
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