Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Outdoor Living Spaces

-- Is there anything better than lounging outside on your back deck in the summer with the grill heating up and a warm breeze slowly turning the pages of your light-hearted book that's resting on your lap as you inevitably take a nap?? 

My extremely talented senior designer, Kimberly, recently started researching decks for her own home.  Follow her blog notes below as she discusses thoughts and research on the products out there...

Outdoor Living Spaces

My husband and I have been wanting to add a deck to our house. We recently built our house and wanted to see how the backyard would actually look after all the grading was done before adding a deck. Over a year has gone by and we still can not decide what we want to build.

There are so many options to consider besides the size and shape of the the deck. Which materials (real wood vs. Trex engineered material), the railing designs and materials: iron, wood. How should the staircase look, one set or two?  Do we need an outdoor kitchen, and fireplace?  Here's a picture of our current situation (notice the playground we desperately need direct access to!):
Barricaded with pressure treated lumber.

Here's is what I dream for it to look like finished one day:


Oh the beautiful limestone with iron railings. I love the well designed hardscape that is all lit up including a hot tub with waterfall. My husband would love the guitar shaped infinity edge pool. The kids could cook s'mores over by fire pit.  It's perfect! But, unfortunately not in our budget! Back to reality.

See the picture above?  This deck is made from recycled materials. This particular company, Trex, has a great website with lots of useful tools. My husband loves the idea of maintenance free materials. No sanding or staining if we pursue this option. This particular design has a interesting radius curve to create a multi-level deck separating an outdoor living room seating group, from a fun gathering space around a fire pit. I would feel really good about our design, while sipping my chardonnay on this deck, knowing that, "Approximately 3.1 billion recycled grocery bags were collected for use to manufacture Trex products in 2010," (according to their website).

This next design idea is fabulous. It incorporates the building materials that the house is made of. I love the covered deck with a ceiling fan and the beautiful stone arches. It really gives the addition visual weight so it incorporates well with the house rather than looking like it was something just stuck on.

I recently met with a landscaping firm to discuss our project. They had some wonderful ideas and designs. My favorite had a double outdoor fireplace that was on porch. They can also incorporate automatic screens that can be lifted and lowered by the touch of a button! Here's a close up of that beautiful real wood:
Another thing to consider is the underneath side of the deck. It can be completely finished to be weatherproofed. This makes the area under the deck more useable for outdoor living spaces. A big trend now is to have outdoor TV's. I know my kids would love that, but I think they have enough TV viewing already inside. I want to get the family outside to enjoy the beautiful scenery of our wooded backyard and enjoy time together.
I can't wait to get started on designing our outdoor living space. We will be phasing our project, and the first phase will be just the deck. Someday it will look like my dream picture. The most important thing to consider is how our family will spend time together enjoying meals and making memories.

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