Category Archives: 4-Season Rooms

What Color Is This Des Moines Deck?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If you’ve followed this blog (thank you) about outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories around Des Moines and Central Iowa, then you know that there’s always a theme here this time of year: Color! Playing off, of course…green beer.

I’m always fearful of recycling this content, fearing that you’ll lose interest and the lack of creativity will drive you away. But, you don’t seem to mind as these posts, collectively, are still some of our most popular…just like green beer.

What Color Is This Dress?

What Color?

So this year, on the heels of the recent release of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie and the “What Color is this Dress?” viral social media story, we’re playing off more than just green beer.  New color stories seem to be everywhere, including in the Archadeck world of decks, porches, patios and…(stay tuned) outdoor furniture.

New color offerings in the world of decking include:

  • Trex Transcends capped composite decking now comes in two new colors since last spring: Island Mist and Havana Gold . These add two more hues to the already vibrant tropical color line that still includes Spiced Rum, Tiki Torch and Lava Rock.
  • TimberTech expanded their very popular Earthwood Evolutions Legacy collection of capped composite with a nice Ashwood color. In their Terrain value collection, 3 colors were added: Rustic Elm, Silver Maple and Stone Ash.
  • Azek introduced a beautiful new Vintage Collection of PVC decking just this spring; the 3 color offerings in this line include Cypress, Dark Hickory and Mahogony.
Trex Transcends - Spiced Rum over Lava Rocks

Trex Transcends – Spiced Rum over Lava Rocks

For those keeping score, that’s 9 new color offerings across just those three brands of wood-alternative decking products in the past year. Breaking that score down further, 4 of those were some shade of grey. Believe it or not, 50 shades of grey decking is not beyond the realm of possibility…someday.

burst_DR_ExpressYourselfIn the world of railing, I think Feeney’s DesignRail aluminum system has introduced the biggest color splash for spring: BOLD COLORS!  The opposite of grey.  Bold, as in green, blue, red, orange and yellow…nearly all the colors of a vibrant rainbow!

In an effort to accommodate these ever-changing colors in the world of decking and railing, we re-worked our office and design studio last spring to allow more flexibility in our displays of these products. When you’re ready to custom-design your outdoor living space with us, we’ve got a very effective facility to help take the “fear of the unknown” out of your decision-making process.

Archadeck Office & Design Studio

Archadeck Office & Design Studio

In the Archadeck world, a whole new spectrum of colors has been introduced through our new offering this spring of Casuwel outdoor living furniture and accessories. Archadeck of Central Iowa – along with our Casuwel All CollectionsOutdoor Living Brands, Inc. franchise cohorts, – is proud to announce that we are now certified sales reps for Casuwel premium outdoor furniture. We offer substantial savings off published internet prices and our initial offering consists of 4 woven collections, all with a wide variety of color and pattern fabric options for their cushion options. Accessories include pillows, rugs and umbrellas…also offered in a wide assortment of colors. Did I say colors? We have all the weave and fabric samples in our office and design studio now, along with brochures and catalogs. So, we can easily work with you to configure the furniture needs of your outdoor living space – whether an existing space or a new Archadeck designed/built space. In early April, we will have two of the Casuwel collections on display in our office / design studio, allowing you to check out the fine quality and styling of Casuwel for yourself.   We are excited to be offering this new product line. Beautiful, custom-designed/built decks, porches and patios, and now the outdoor furniture to allow you to fully enjoy your outdoor living experience.

With the nice, warm weather we’re having, I hope you get a chance to celebrate some of the early rites of spring – St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness (never madder than in Iowa, this year) and the First Day of Spring – outdoors on your decks, patios and porches around Des Moines.   If your outdoor living spaces aren’t up for these types of celebrations, contact us for a free design consultation to see how we can brighten your outdoor living spaces.

Go Outside and Play!

Profile with Sig - 2015

Memorial Day: Celebrating Life, Outdoors in Central Iowa

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend. Already. And, yet, it seemed so long in coming. A tough winter here in Des Moines…Central Iowa…and many places across this great country. And a tough spring (or was it winter?) followed.

Maybe moreso than any other holiday, there are many events, celebrations, milestones and memories associated with Memorial Day and the weekend(s) around it.

  • Memorial Day

    Memorial Day

    First and foremost, the “true meaning” of Memorial Day: Originally known as Decoration Day, it was a day set aside to remember soldiers who died in the Civil War. Unfortunately, more wars followed and so have the lives of (too) many American service men and women. So, the day has evolved to remember all Americans who have sacrificed their lives in military service for the freedoms the rest of us enjoy. The “decoration” part comes from the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves with flags and flowers. That aspect of the tradition has further expanded to general maintenance and decoration – and memorials – of all family members’ graves sites, regardless of their military service. Cemeteries never look better than they do on Memorial Day.

  • Folks in the southern half of the country may not appreciate this as much as those of us in the Des Moines latitudes and above, but Memorial Day’s place on the calendar positions it at what has become the “unofficial” start of summer. Or, some might say, the “official” start of the outdoor living season…maybe the first weekend of full-blown outdoor parties or social gatherings on your deck or patio. Not to mention pool openings and pool parties. Technically, the summer solstice happens on June 21st (give or take a few hours), when the sun hits its peak. Technically, outdoor living season can be anytime…if you’re properly equipped with a 3-or-4-season room, a firepit or fireplace, a heated pool or hot tub…or skis and layers of Thinsulate.   But, why wait?
  • School’s Out For Summer! Going hand-in-hand with the start of summer, school years end around Memorial Day as well. And with that comes various graduation celebrations as our children and grandchildren pass from one education level to the next…ultimately into the “real world.” Many of these celebrations also occur outdoors on decks, porches and patios with outdoor kitchens as functional as the one next to your living room inside. But, with a better view of the big Iowa sky and landscape.
  • Two of auto racing’s biggest events dominate sports entertainment
    Indianapolis 500

    Indianapolis 500

    around Memorial Day weekend (Sunday). In Indianapolis, Indiana, its Indy Car’s crown jewel…maybe racing’s overall crown jewel…the Indianapolis 500. Later in the day, Charlotte, North Carolina (home of our largest Archadeck office), hosts NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600, its longest distance race. Good luck to Kurt Bush, who will try to become only the fourth driver in history to complete both races on the same day. Maybe you will catch many of his anticipated 2,400 left turns on the outdoor TV’s that are getting installed more frequently on the patios, porches and decks we’re designing and building here in the Des Moines area.

While all these activities may seem a bit disparate, a common theme here is all the opportunities that Memorial Day gives us to (finally – after a long winter) get outdoors…to live outdoors…to celebrate outdoors, eat and drink outdoors.

Archadeck of Central Iowa designs and builds spaces for these purposes year-round. Not just for uses around Memorial Day, but for year-round use (seasonally, depending on the space). This year, though, we had an exceptional number of projects that were started last fall and over the winter (a very tough winter for the building side of our business) that were specifically targeted for many of these activities associated with Memorial Day.

Clive  (Des Moines) Trex Transcends Deck

Clive (Des Moines) Trex Transcends Deck

A Clive family engaged us last fall for a new Trex Transcends deck with Westbury aluminum railing, to be completed in time for their Memorial Day weekend graduation party; started in early November, we completed it a couple of weeks ago. We actually had breathing room on this one.

Waukee (Des Moines) TimberTech Azek XLM Deck

A Waukee family considered several design options for the new TimberTech/Azek XLM deck space they wanted for their graduation party, ultimately settling on a curved deck with a hot tub and an outdoor kitchen. Stone columns were incorporated into the design to enhance the aesthetics of this space. This design effort was completed in December. But a surprise need for a variance with the City (resulting from a prior contractor’s oversight) delayed our construction start until mid-January; the cold and deep frost then slowed our efforts dramatically.   But, we had the project ready for their party held on May 3rd.

Trex Transcends over Elevations Steel Framing – Ankney (Des Moines)

We built a new Trex Transcends deck – structured with Trex’s Elevations steel framing system – for an Ankeny couple last fall. The deck leads to their in-ground pool and includes built-in seating and wide stairs book-ended by stone columns…which didn’t get fully installed before it got too cold last fall.   That stone went on this week – the same day they opened their pool. Their deck will make a big first splash this Memorial Day weekend.

TimberTech Earthwoods Open Porch – Des Moines

A Des Moines family (and a neighbor of mine) engaged us last December for a new open porch over a TimberTech Earthwoods Evolutions deck with Westbury aluminum railing. Their son serves in the military, stationed in Alaska, and was scheduled for a Memorial Day weekend leave to visit his family at home…and celebrate with them on their new porch and deck.  Stone column work was completed this week and the project was ready for this soldier’s return. I think I hear them celebrating now!

To be sure, Mother Nature’s harsh winter complicated our efforts to get these four Des Moines-area outdoor living projects completed in time for their various Memorial Day timeframe deadlines. But, we did complete them….by the skin of our teeth. Additionally, our delays in getting the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest-wining project in Huxley completed last fall was also a factor of the early, hard and long winter we had. That project was also completed earlier this month and the Bentrott’s have been enjoying the space the past couple of weekends.  But we’re waiting for the “grand reveal” of that project until the official “launch” party, currently targeted for mid-July (stay tuned).

On the flip side, two springs ago (2012) we were laying Belgard paver patios in March in 80-degrees in shorts and t-shirts.

Weather – particularly in spring – and its impact on our outdoor living space building capabilities, is a roll-of-the-dice anymore. All the more reason that if you want a new Central Iowa outdoor living space to enjoy early next year, you should be contacting us sooner than later. All the more reason to celebrate Memorial Day and all it has come to represent. All the more reason to…Go Outside and Play!

Happy Memorial Day!

Harold Cross, Archadeck of Central Iowa


Get Inspired+Started+Outdoors – Des Moines Home+Garden Show

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Bowl XLVIII – Champion – Seattle Seahawks

What do Peyton Manning and Punxsutawney Phil have in common?

On Super Bowl Sunday, they were both frightened by their shadows and retreated to their respective burrows to hunker down for another 6 weeks of winter.

OK…so that was a bit harsh on Mr. Manning. On the other hand, its been a harsh winter.  But not just here in Des Moines; winter has been a nationwide epidemic this year.  That is, if you consider 2” of snow an epidemic…Atlanta.  Geesh.  But, Atlanta, we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt…we northerners don’t expect you to be prepared.  While lack of preparation likely wasn’t Peyton Manning’s downfall, team execution was.

So, the Super Bowl is behind us.  Ground Hog Day is behind us.  But, we’re still in the middle of a harsh winter…and, thanks to Punxsutawney Phil, no end in sight.  What to do while we’re hunkering down?  Try this:

Get Inspired. Get Started. And..Get Outdoors!

Get Inspired. Get Started. And..Get Outdoors!

“Get inspired” and “get started” are tag lines for this year’s Des Moines Home+Garden Show being held this weekend at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines.  I added the “get outdoors” because…

Trex Transcends Porch - Deck - Des Moines - Urbandale - Archadeck AAActually, there is a better place, but lets don’t tell the Home+Garden folks that.  For instance, your Des Moines area backyard is a pretty good place to get inspired and started…when its warmer.  The Des Moines Home+Garden Show only runs 4 days.  But, we do outdoor living year round and our office/showroom in Urbandale facilitates our mission year round.  In fact, we’re currently renovating our office/showroom to facilitate that mission even better (stay tuned for details).  So, ultimately we’ll meet in your backyard and at our office/showroom.  But, this weekend, the best place really is the 2014 Des Moines Home+Garden Show.  We hope to see you there.

Profile with Sig - Final 3X

Mother Nature Delivers Turkey for Dream Backyard Makeover Project

Happy Thanksgiving - Archadeck Central Iowa Decks Porches Patios Des MoinesHopefully, you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your family and friends and your travels were safe if you were on the road over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Like much of the country, we had an early blast of winter here in Central Iowa.  Unlike much of the country, that weather was through here before Thanksgiving itself so our local travelling and holiday gatherings were only minimally impacted by Mother Nature.

However, the same can not be said of Mother Nature’s impact on our continued progress on the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest project.  While our first blast of winter came before Thanksgiving, it also came right on the heels of the delivery of the Bentrott’s custom-built outdoor kitchen.  As detailed in our last posting here, Belgard’s and Harmony’s build schedule for the outdoor kitchen put us in a race with an impending Iowa winter.  We were begging for leniency from Mother Nature, but last week – as the following video recounts – winter won that race.

We were so (snow) close to having the Bentrott’s Central Iowa backyard makeover complete before winter:

  • the TimberTech deck was complete, aside from stairs to the patio surface
  • the open porch structure was complete, pending utilities for the lighting and the outdoor kitchen
  • the firepit and seatwall area of the patio was laid, pending caps and lighting installation
Dream Backyard Makeover.  TimberTech Deck and Open Porch

Dream Backyard Makeover,
TimberTech Deck and Open Porch

With good weather conditions, our crew believes they could have the project wrapped up with about a week of effort.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get that week between Belgard’s delivery of the outdoor kitchen and Mother Nature’s delivery of winter.  Most of the work left involves hardscaping…putting the finishing touches on the outdoor kitchen and laying the remainder of the Belgard Urbana patio surface.  So, we’re going to need a thaw and a week of consistently warmer weather (above freezing at night, 50’s or better during the day would be nice) before we can undertake that remaining work.

We’ll be ready as soon as Mother Nature is.


Big Outdoor Living News: Porch and Patio Awards, Des Moines Home Show and…???

Des Moines Deck BuilderBig news coming this weekend.  Big as the great outdoors.

No, its not news that Archadeck of Central Iowa won two design awards at our recently-completed annual meeting.  But, we did…and thats pretty big, too.

Screen Porch, Patio and Outdoor Kitchen Project in Grinnell Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Combination Projects)

Screen Porch, Patio and Outdoor Kitchen Project in Grinnell Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Combination Projects – 1st Place)

These acknowledgements are big and humbling at the same time; we’ve got some great professionals in the Archadeck system.  Competition is fierce; bribes have been attempted…but not accepted.  Just kidding (sorta).

No, its not news that I will be on  Sherry Failor’s  Welcome Home Des Moines radio show this Saturday.  But, I will…and thats pretty big, too.  1040 WHO AM on your radio dial, noon to 1pm.  We’ll be talking decks, porches, patios and more…including, the big news!

No, its not that the Des Moines Home & Garden Show- The Big one! –  is coming up next week.  Starting Thursday, February 7th, running thru Sunday the 10th.  15th year running for Archadeck at the show.  You’ll find us in the lobby on the east side of Hy-Vee Hall.  Make us your first stop!  Or last.  Or both.  And be sure to ask us about the big news.

Patio in Johnston (Des Moines) Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Patio Projects - 3rd Place)

Patio in Johnston (Des Moines) Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Patio Projects – 3rd Place)

No…its bigger than all that…combined.  Thats all I can say now.  Other than…find us on Facebook.   Beyond that, I’m sworn to secrecy.  But, its big.  Stay tuned…


2013 Crystal Ball for Archadeck Outdoor Living

NY Eve Ball DropHere we are, putting another year behind us and setting our sights on the next.  Goodbye Twenty-Twelve.  Hello Twenty-Thirteen.

2012 was a very good year for Archadeck of Central Iowa.  Record-setting, even.  Central Iowans are truly embracing our trusted and time-proven approach to custom designing and building outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories.  Many backyards around Des Moines were adorned with our decks, porches, patios, pergolas, outdoor kitchens and more…even a basketball court!

Screen Porch, Patio, Outdoor Kitchen Space by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Screen Porch, Patio, Outdoor Kitchen Space by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Multi-functional, combination spaces with amenities like fireplaces, firepits and lighting are driving growth in the value and popularity of outdoor living.

Three of our 2012 projects are soon going to be seen in some fairly prominent local and national publications in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for these:

  • Do It Yourself Magazine, a Better Homes and Gardens special publication used a West Des Moines composite deck project of ours as a backdrop for a feature article coming later this Spring; stay tuned for newsstand availability information.
  • Welcome Home Des Moines, a locally-produced magazine, is featuring an Urbandale deck and patio project, complete with a firepit and outdoor kitchen, in their January/February 2013 issue; find it online, in your mailbox (if you subscribe) and in fine establishments around Des Moines in January.
  • dsm Magazine, another locally-produced magazine, asked us to participate in a “Superior Interiors” feature that will run in their  Feb/Mar/April 2013 issue.  Interiors?  Archadeck?  Aren’t we a “Superiors Exteriors” business?  Well, yes, but the Urbandale screen porch project we’re featuring there will explain it all.  Look for that in late January as well.
TimberTech Deck - Wes Des Moines (soon to be seen in DIY Magazine)

TimberTech Deck – Wes Des Moines (soon to be seen in DIY Magazine)

What else does 2013 hold in store for Archadeck of Central Iowa?  Where is that crystal ball when we need it?  One thing is certain:  It won’t get any easier.  Our clients demand more.  We demand more of ourselves.  In other words, the bar keeps getting moved higher.  But, those are challenges that inspire us.   So, we’re preparing for another exciting year and we’re looking forward to summarizing another successful and record-setting year here again next year at this time.  Ahead of that, here are some of the challenges, excitement and preparations we see in Archadeck’s 2013 crystal ball:

—–  Home Shows  —– 

We will again be displaying at the Des Moines Home & Garden Show (February 7th – 10th, 2013; Iowa Events Center/Hy-Vee Hall) and at the Home Builders Association Home & Remodeling Show (March 8 – 10, 2013; Iowa State Fairgrounds/Varied Industries Building).

Custom Outdoor Living Space Design and Plan, Archadeck of Central Iowa

Custom Outdoor Living Space Design and Plan, Archadeck of Central Iowa

But, you don’t have to wait to see us at a Home Show.  In fact, if you’ve got a pre-Summer “deadline” (maybe needing a deck or porch or patio for a graduation party or wedding?), I’d highly  (highly!) encourage you to not wait.   We have a number of 2012 clients who have already approached us about “phase 2” planning (“phasing” projects is also becoming more common; for example, doing a room/porch one year and a patio the next).  We also have a queue of several proposals from late 2012 under consideration with January decision timeframes (some with those aforementioned deadlines).

—–  Econ 101  —–

With demand and popularity come higher prices, particularly with the building materials that go into our projects.  But on top of that, re-building efforts from massive and devastating storms like Hurricane Sandy and the Joplin tornado further stress supply and demand resources.   Construction industry watchers are forecasting 3% – 8% increases in building material prices over the coming years (source:  Ken Simonson, Chief Economist AGC of America, 9/21/12) .   The last few years have made providers lean, so absorbing these costs will be difficult for us.   Which I know makes purchasing decisions more difficult for you.  But it doesn’t have to be all bad news.  Done right – better building by design – does add value.  And again, if you can catch us early you might beat some of these price increases.

—–  Products, Supply Chain and Relationships  —–

Because of our national presence and our outdoor living industry leadership position, Archadeck has forged various forms of preferred supplier relationships with major manufacturers in the outdoor living arena, including:

There were some interesting partnerships and acquisitions within those suppliers last year and we’re looking forward to some exciting enhancements in their product lines as a result.

Azek acquired the TimberTech business last year.  What that means going forward is yet to be totally realized; for the time being the brands and products are being maintained independently.  I would anticipate some very positive outcomes from this in regards to new and improved product offerings in the near future.

From TimberTech Direct, Radiance Rail with Feeney's Cable Rail, new in 2013.

From TimberTech Direct, Radiance Rail with Feeney’s Cable Rail, new in 2013.

One precursor to what may be ahead with the Azek/TimberTech deal may be seen in the partnership TimberTech and Feeney Architectural Products developed to integrate Feeney’s Cable Rail system into TimberTech’s new Radiance Rail systems.

Locally, I am also working to forge a stronger relationship with Trex.

Trex Transcends Front Porch, West Des Moines

Trex Transcends Front Porch, West Des Moines

We’ve become a big fan of Trex’s Transcends decking and railing products.  In fact, we just finished a Trex Transcends front porch project in West Des Moines a couple of weeks ago.  Trex’s RainEscape product is becoming our under-decking drainage system of choice as well.  Several recent Des Moines-area Trex deck projects are lined up for review and I have paperwork completed and ready to be submitted…for what will soon make us the first TrexPro contractor in the Des Moines area.  We are excited to attain this level of local support with Trex, the number one decking/railing manufacturer in the country.   Stay tuned for more details on this relationship.

Vendors working together make it better for all of us downstream.  And with the relationships Archadeck has forged with these major suppliers, it makes it even better when you work with Archadeck.  The direct support we get from these relationships helps all of us, both before and after an outdoor living space project is designed, sold and constructed.

—-  Re-Energize  —–

The annual Archadeck workshop, held in conjunction with the other brands in our Outdoor Living Brands, Inc. family will be coming up in late January.   It’s a nice time to re-connect and network with our colleagues around the country and learn from those shared experiences.  In addition, we’ll be introduced to new business strategies from our franchise advisory groups.  I always come away from these meetings re-energized for a new season and am looking forward to this again.

—–  Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words  —–

A few blog posts back, I mentioned plans to expand our offerings of project pictures beyond what we have on our web site and Facebook photo galleries to include Pinterest and Photosynth.  Those plans are…aside from adding some pins to my personal Pinterest site and adding a couple of panoramic “synths” to our Photosynth site…still in the planning phase.  But, I am committed to integrating these further into our web presence over the coming weeks.  So, look for announcements on these in the near future.

Slide09XOur online themes (across our web site, Facebook page, etc.) for the past few weeks has been a seasonal wish for “Merry Outdoor Living in the Happy New Year!”  Beyond that, thank you for your readership here and your support of Archadeck of Central Iowa.   And, if you need to improve your merry-making capabilities in your Central Iowa outdoor living space in 2013 – or beyond, we look forward to hearing from you soon.  Feel free to download our complimentary Design Guide, contact us via our web site and/or give us a call.

Best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous 2013!


Homestyle’s Last Word on Outdoor Living: Take The Party Outside

This one is a keeper.  No, I don’t mean this blog article.  Nor do I mean any of the recent outdoor living projects we’ve completed here in the Des Moines area.  While we’ve certainly been exceptionally busy since Fall with the mild Winter and Spring – allowing us to build some very nice deck, porch and patio projects, our clients think those are all keepers, though.

What I am referring to is the May, 2012, edition of the Des Moines Register’s Homestyle magazine that just hit the streets.  It’s a keeper because from what I, as an advertiser in that publication, have been told, it’s the last Homestyle magazine we’re ever going to see.  At least on paper…in its current form.  Des Moines Register President and Publisher Laura Hollingsworth’s announcements of April 13th and May 6th put some background to this change…and others on the horizon.

Over the years, Homestyle has been a great resource for Archadeck of Central Iowa as a tool to promote our presence – our design and build services – in the Des Moines and Central Iowa region.  Occasionally, the Register and Homestyle publishers would be kind enough to feature us in stories and articles in the magazine.  Homestyle’s quality and professional production served us – and like-minded businesses – well over the years.  I know this because I know it served a lot of you well, too.  Countless people I’ve talked to over the 9 years I’ve been involved in this business of designing and building outdoor living spaces have mentioned seeing our ads and stories in the Homestyle magazine.  Whether you were looking for an outdoor kitchen or an indoor kitchen, an outdoor living room or an indoor living room, a patio or a pad, a ceiling fan for your bedroom or for your screen porch, Homestyle was a resource Des Moines relied on for ideas and inspiration.  Homestyle also provided you a way to find products and businesses to bring those ideas and inspiration to life.  Often on the vivid pages of the magazine itself.

But in a bittersweet end, those pages will be no more.  Its sad to see Homestyle go, yet I certainly understand.  More and more of you now find us – and nearly everything else – via the internet today.  And, to be honest, its more effective – cost-wise, reach-wise, message-wise – for us to be found on the internet.  Video killed the radio star.  And Microsoft, Google and Apple killed the print star.

Or did they?  Last I checked, radio still exists….even on the internet….and as a result, in even more specialized and targeted forms, not to mention from nearly every corner of the earth.  Maybe video actually created more radio stars…but diluted the term “stars?”

So, I think print is going to remain as well.  But, like radio and nearly everything else, its delivery is evolving to electronic form….on the internet.  And print stars will grow…and dilute.  In part, thanks to bloggers like me – I hardly consider myself a “star.”

I am one of those conflicted sorts who sees himself as both a technologist (a 29-year career in that field) and a traditionalist (I’m a born-and-raised Iowan, southern at that).  I often have both the Des Moines Register paper (paper!) and my iPad at the breakfast table in the morning.  I like to buy hardcopy books to have on a bedside table or library shelf, but I prefer to read them on iBooks on my iPad.  I actively promote wood-alternative material when it comes to decking and railing products, yet I believe nothing compares to the natural beauty of real wood (when its cleaned, sealed and nicely stained).  So, maybe I’m wired to adapt to the change of not having Homestyle delivered to folks doorsteps once a month to whatever the “next step” is in the evolution of the Des Moines Register and its spin-off publications.    Maybe.

I’ll miss the traditional ways and the traditional contributors and I will support these as long as they exist and work for us.  So, you’ll still find our ads in the Des Moines Register and in Sherry Failor’s Welcome Home Des Moines magazine (another fine, traditional print publication).  But, I’ll support the evolution, too.  Technology advances demand it.  And, quite frankly, so do you…we.  With every smart phone, tablet computer and low-maintenance, wood-alternative deck we buy, its one more vote for…change….progress…evolution.  But, its kinda like the saying about not liking to have birthdays the older you get:  consider the alternative.

So, in those terms, it sounds like the Des Moines Register is about to have one of those “major” birthdays.  And we’re all invited to the party.  As for Archadeck of Central Iowa, professionally, and me, personally, we’ll be there because we prefer parties to the alternative.  Especially, parties on the patio!

Thank you to The Des Moines Register and, specifically, the Homestyle production team for your contributions to Des Moines homeowners’ lifestyles through that forum over the years.  Thanks also for your support of Archadeck and like-minded businesses that operate in that arena; we look forward to that continued support in the next evolution of the Register.   Finally, thank you for the “Outdoor Oasis – Deck out your deck and take the party outside” nod.  Subliminal or not, it’s a keeper.

Boone Sunroom Goes Beyond Words

Carolyn doesn’t know this (yet), but I almost didn’t go to Boone.

Who’s Carolyn, you ask, and what was in Boone?

Check out the “Built With Love” feature in the January / February 2012 edition of Welcome Home Des Moines magazine for the answers.  Thanks to Sherry Failor and her Welcome Home Des Moines staff for the very fine coverage.  And, a very special thanks to Carolyn for allowing us to be a part of her project.

For reasons I can’t entirely explain, I almost declined Carolyn’s invitation to participate in her 4-season room project.  But once I got there, I couldn’t leave.  Literally.  Carolyn’s is the only yard I’ve had to “break out” of from a design consultation visit.  I was certain her neighbors were going to have me arrested as I scaled the 6’ privacy fence surrounding her back yard.  I was also certain I was going to be attacked by Carolyn’s two dogs and freeze to death if I didn’t risk that Great Escape.

Needless to say, Carolyn’s sunroom project had a tenuous beginning for me.  But, that paled in comparison to the beginning the project had for Carolyn.  Plus, I was joking about the dogs (they are nice…and were inside…which makes them nicer).  Not that we take any of our Des Moines-area outdoor living projects lightly, but I soon realized there was more riding on this project in Boone than most.  Not so much from complexity or scope or material or dollars or anything you’d normally associate with a project of this nature.  But rather…from emotion.  Gut-wrenching emotion.  From life-altering events that can make one question the very meaning of life.

And you want to build a room from that?

In the Welcome Home article, Carolyn was kind enough to say I understood that.  That took me back a bit and caused some reflection on my part.  Two things stood out:

  • From my vantage point, going into hundreds of homes every

    Home is Important

    year, I can’t help but see…in many different ways, for many different reasons…that homes are important. Like Carolyn, my wife calls “home” her “sanctuary.”  What you do and put into/around your home is important.  How you use your home and its surrounding spaces is important…to you, your family, your lifestyle.  My Archadeck experience has taught me many things, not the least of which is that what we, as Archadeck, are doing is important from that perspective.  I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

  • In my own family, we’ve seen a situation similar to Carolyn’s…a wife, a mother, a family…losing a husband, a father…to an uncontrollable illness…at an inexplicably early age…left to maintain a family…maintain a home.   Unfortunately, Carolyn and my sister-in-law, Julia, are just two of countless stories like this – I’m sure you have your own.  But, these stories often also highlight the strength of the human spirit – and that inspires me – and hopefully you, too.

As I told Carolyn recently, her project goes beyond words for me.  As shown in the photos below, Archadeck provided the sticks, glass, stone and the plan to put it together.  But, Carolyn made the room.   Carolyn provided the inspiration.

Of course, I want to build a room from that.

Before - During - After - Exterior Views of 4-Season Room

Before - During - After - Interior Views of 4-Season Room

Boone Sunroom with a View - During - After

Resolve to Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Spaces More in 2012

Happy New Year!  2012.  Twenty-Twelve.  Has a nice sound, feel and look to it, don’t you think?  I’m always excited to turn the page on a New Year and look forward to the symbolic “re-boot” that New Years Day offers.  At the same time, I’m also caught up in both the “reflective” and “reality” aspects of the moment when the ball drops, corks pop and lips lock.  There are things, both good/bad…happy/sad, that happened in the past year(s) that will continue to influence us in the reality that a New Year brings.  I’m looking forward to building on all that and making a great 2012, both personally and professionally.  Here’s wishing you the best in 2012, too!

That opening could be summarized as the “3 R’s of New Years:”  Re-boot, Reflection and Reality.  And, I managed (until now) to do that without using that other dreaded “R” word (Resolutions).  I’m not sure what your disposition is towards New Years Resolutions, but I tend to think that a good, positive attitude (such as “reflectively rebooting for the reality a New Year brings”) goes a long way towards achieving any resolution…whether you actually make resolutions or not.   But, if you are a person who makes New Years Resolutions and you’re looking for help both in making and meeting your resolutions, Archadeck | Outdoor Living can help you with that:

Resolve to enjoy your outdoor living spaces more in 2012!

Note that I said “…both in making and meeting your resolutions.”  Anybody can make resolutions.  Meeting them is the hard part.  Often it’s the hard part because there isn’t a good plan in place to bring the resources together to achieve the goal.   Or, on the flip side, the goal isn’t realistic based on the resources that only haphazardly come together when planning is overlooked.

Multi-Season Room, West Des Moines

How does this relate to Archadeck and Outdoor Living?  If you take us up on our resolution offering, you’ll soon see that we focus on developing a design and plan to achieve your outdoor living space needs and desires. When the design and plan is in place, we focus on building it with the most qualified, experienced resources and to the highest standards in the industry.  After its built, we warrant it and guarantee our warranty coverage for up to 5 years.  “Better Building by Design” and “We Design It, We Build It, You Enjoy It” are not just catch-phrases for us…its our way of life…our way of business.

Maybe you want a patio with an outdoor kitchen and firepit.  Maybe you want a screen porch to keep out the bugs and sun.  Maybe you’re tired of splinters, tired of staining your deck and railing and are looking for lower-maintenance outdoor living components.  Maybe you don’t want to get “burned” like your neighbor did with their contractor.  Maybe you want all of that.  You can have all that – or all that makes sense for your reality –  under the Archadeck | Outdoor Living umbrella (maybe “pergola” is a better word in our case).  We take making resolutions for you very seriously!

Front Porch with Pergola, Central Iowa

Of course, this will cost you some money and, likely, more money than you anticipate going in (as many things do, right?).  But, we’ll certainly address the cost and budget aspects of your project and its various design options in the planning process as well.  The connection between planning/design and cost is comparable to the connection between the chicken and the egg:  Which comes first?  Not sure about the chicken and the egg, but I wish I had that “magic.”  Unfortunately, I’m only human so we address it in a number of ways (design retainers, iterative designs, addendums within known ranges, etc.) depending on the situation.  But, our goal is always the same…to develop a known budget up front, contract to that and…no surprises along the way…or at the end.

The consensus among remodeling industry experts is that this is money well-spent, too. Remodeling Magazine recently published their 2011-12 Cost/Value Analysis Report.  In that, they track 35 common remodeling projects with average project costs, resale value and cost recoupment; they do this nationally, regionally and within major metropolitan areas.  Archadeck’s product offerings span more than these 35 projects primarily because Remodeling Magazine is focused on in-, or on-home remodeling projects while we focus on outdoor spaces, rooms and accessories.  So, for example, patios, pergolas and outdoor kitchens aren’t specifically included in the Remodeling survey.  But, decks are and we generally relate that as the “outdoor living spaces” indicator for cost/value returns.  Remodeling also tracks “sunroom additions.”  But, “sunrooms” tend to not reflect the “stick-built” approach we take with our multi-season rooms and porches here in our Des Moines-based Archadeck office.  So, we look at the “family room addition” within Remodeling’s survey as the indicator for our “room” projects.  Admittedly, though, “porches” (front, screened and open) are difficult to assess via this survey.

Low Maintenance Outdoor Living Spaces on Urbandale Home

With those caveats, you’ll find that deck additions, wood and composite, are 2 of the top 10 projects with the highest cost/value returns in the Midwest/Des Moines region.  Room additions, depending on what you call the room, are holding strong in the middle of the pack.  Deck additions (and other outdoor living spaces such as patios) continue to be strong performers in this survey, primarily from the perspective that they, unlike many other projects in the survey…and, I might add, when they are done “right” (see above), add living space to your home (if even on a partial-year basis).   It’s the space and functionality aspects that are adding value.  If you choose to add that space/functionality with a cheaper material (wood) over a more expensive material (composite), then the cost goes up but the value (as measured by this survey) remains the same, therefore driving down the overall value on a percentage basis.  That’s my explanation for the drop between wood deck and composite deck values per this survey.  This survey does not take into account some of the more lifestyle-oriented values that composites may provide on a more subjective basis.

Multi-Season Room and Patio, Des Moines

Certainly, the values of our homes and what we put into them have been a tricky proposition in recent years…trickier depending on where you live.  Nearly all of the remodeling projects tracked in the survey are down in the cost/return ratios compared to survey results 3 years ago; that’s more reflective of the housing bubble burst that’s impacted our economy over the past few years than it is of any of these projects, per se.  But, here in the Des Moines and Central Iowa region, we’ve been fortunate enough to be as stable as any place in that regard.  That helps to put us in a position to feel good about investing in our homes.  And, more folks are doing that with more of a longer-term outlook.  Outdoor living spaces remain one of the best investments you can make on your Des Moines-area home.

So, re-boot, reflect and look forward to the new realities that 2012 will bring you.  If those realities include a desire (resolution?) to enjoy your outdoor living spaces more in 2012, I look forward to hearing from you soon.  With Archadeck’s proven processes and experience, we’ll put together a good plan for a good investment in your home.  For one piece of a good 2012!

Happy New Year!

Summer Is Short, but Archadeck Outdoor Living is Year-Round

Stars and Stripes on Archadeck Deck and Patio

I hope you’re all enjoying a nice, long 4th of July weekend around the Des Moines and Central Iowa area!  And, I hope, plenty of outdoor living – celebrating – to go with this summer holiday.  On the deck.  On the porchOutdoor kitchen smoking the tastiest chicken this side of Memphis.  Fireworks.  Back home for a nightcap in the screen porch.  Kids lighting sparklers off the firepit flame on the patio.  Happy Birthday, America!

Today’s light, quick, scattered showers notwithstanding, Mother Nature is cooperating nicely here in Des Moines.  Seems like we haven’t had many of these summer days, summer weekends yet this summer.  Not enough nice days, evenings, weekends to enjoy out on the deck or patio.  And yet, the calendar says July 4th.  Summer is already slipping away.

That’s an attitude I’ve gotten a sense of the past few weeks as I’ve been out visiting with Des Moines-area folks about their outdoor living space needs and desires.  Certainly, wet and cool weather influences that thought…and we seem to get plenty of that in Spring, anymore.  Our lifestyles – busier than ever – also give the sense that time is slipping away…regardless of season (though, why does Winter last so long?).  So, what to do?

Here are three “attitude adjusters” to consider to help you extend your enjoyment of your outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories…

Shade from an Archadeck Design-Built Pergola, Urbandale

Attitude Adjuster #1:  Summer doesn’t actually start until June 21st.  Winter doesn’t start until December 21st.  Sure, we so badly want winter to be over that we want to get out and enjoy the great Central Iowa outdoors as soon as we can in the Spring…and as long as we can in the Fall.  But, I think (but not confirmed with the National Weather Service; its an intuitive hunch based on 54 years of living in Iowa) there are generally more “nice days” between June 21st and December 21st, than there are between December 21st and June 21st.  Our anticipation for getting out on the deck, on the patio, in the pool, under the pergola is greater in the latter period. And when the former period arrives…nearly the instant it arrives…we start lamenting that summer is over. Summer is just beginning!  The best is (still) ahead.

Honest to God truth:  As I am writing this, I have on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball game – Dodgers/Angels.  Commercial break; two commercials…back to back.  The first, a promotion for Las Vegas…theme:  “Life is short.  Summer is shorter.”  The second one, an advertisement for Kingsford Charcoal…theme: “Slow down and grill.”  Anybody else see those?

Life is short.  Summer is shorter.  Slow down and grill.  I couldn’t have said it better.  Except to add…go to Vegas in the winter!

Gazebo on Brick Paver Patio with Firepit, Des Moines

Attitude Adjuster #2:  Life is short.  Enjoy Fall, Winter and Spring, too.  Design, build and accessorize your outdoor living spaces and rooms to maximize their use throughout the year.  There are aesthetic and ambience appeals to a roof, but a roof over a deck or a patio will give you relief from sun and rain…depending on how low the sun is and how windy the rain is.  Screens, walls and windows are optional with that roof, but each further extends the functionality of the room, particularly as the weather degrades…day-to-day or season-to-season.  A fireplace in that porch – open or enclosed – will take some of the chill off those early Spring and late Fall evenings.  Not to mention, a nice ambience on those Summer evenings.   (In a couple of weeks, we’ll be starting a project for an Urbandale client that will include a screen porch with a fireplace; stay tuned for updates.)  Even something as simple as some strategically-placed deck and landscape lighting can extend the usage of your outdoor spaces:  Go outside and play…at night! 

Design for Screen Porch with Fireplace - Coming Soon in Urbandale

Attitude Adjuster #3:  Life is short.  Sometimes we can’t slow down…to grill or to go to Vegas…and time gets away from us.  If that happens to you this summer…this fall…and you go through another year without that new outdoor living space you desperately want, we’re here to help…year-round.  The key to getting your outdoor living spaces in shape is that first step – design.  And we do that year-round.  Even build year-round (with “breaks” for blizzards, ice and sub-zero temperatures).  But…horse before the cart:  Design.  Download our Design Guide and keep it handy.  Review it as you get a chance over the coming weeks and months.  Stay in touch with us here.  Like our Facebook page and follow-quick, fun updates about us and our projects there (or on Twitter).  Check our web site regularly; photo galleries will be refreshed as new projects are completed and Special Offers and other news and information will be announced there as well.  Then, if Summer completely slips you by, and you want to enjoy your outdoor from new spaces in the Spring…next Spring…you can contact us in the Fall or the Winter (or even tomorrow) and we can make your new outdoor living space, room and accessories happen for next Spring (or sooner).

Enjoy your Summer!