Category Archives: Screen Porches

More Backyards Than Time…Where Did Summer Go?

Regular readers of this blog about Central Iowa’s premier designer and builder of decks, porches, patios and accessories surrounding outdoor living may have noticed a lengthy gap in my writing here.  This can best be summed up as:

So many backyards.  So little time.  And now…its Labor Day weekend already.  Where did the summer go?

Its been a big year for Archadeck of Central Iowa.  We started off fast with a very mild Winter and a balmy Spring.  Then, Summer got hot, and so did demand for our custom-designed and built outdoor living spaces.  So we sweated through it and many folks around Des Moines and Central Iowa are enjoying their new outdoor living spaces.

Screen Porch & Patio, Grinnell

The Davis’ in Grinnell have a peaceful space with a new screen porch and patio built around their existing garden and water feature areas.  The outdoor kitchen we integrated into their patio offers a great space for cooking and preparing the harvest from their gardening efforts.

Patio Paradise, Urbandale

The Lytle’s in Urbandale have a new backyard paradise complete with a low-maintenance wood-alternative deck and Belgard Mega Arbel patio.  This space is accessorized with stone seat walls, a gas firepit, an outdoor kitchen, a hot tub and a low-voltage lighting system for nighttime ambiance.  The Lytle’s christened their new backyard paradise by hosting their daughter’s wedding reception on the patio.

Belgard Patio, Johnston

The Glenn’s in Johnston replaced their deck with a completely hardscaped outdoor living space.  Their patio, too, features Belgard Mega Arbel pavers, a lighted corner wall area for their firepit seating group and a bar/counter integrated with their existing outdoor kitchen.  The design we created also relocated their hot tub in a more convenient location.  Someone celebrated a significant birthday on the patio shortly after our completion.  Who and which one will remain our secret.  What happens on an Archadeck patio, stays on an Archadeck patio.

Of course, those aren’t the only three projects we’ve done, but in the interest of time…those three projects cover a lot of ground.  Literally.

Not only am I behind writing about our outdoor living projects, I’m also behind in getting pictures from these projects and getting those pictures into the photo galleries in our web site.  So stay tuned and check our web site often.  Obviously, I have some pictures – but not as “clean” or organized as I would like.  So what you see above are the first ones published from these outdoor living projects – an exclusive for you, our patient blog readers!

Because what we do is so “visual,” people frequently tell us how helpful it is to see project pictures of our work and as examples of what we could do for them (you).  I am fond of saying, “words are important,” and they are.  But, there is also the “a picture is worth a thousand words” school of thought.  I think it might be more like a picture being worth a million words in today’s internet world of social media, smart/camera phones and tablet technology.  So, for that reason, I am formulating plans to expand our offerings of project pictures beyond what we have on our web site and Facebook photo galleries; that expansion would include:

  • Pinterest – For those of you not familiar with Pinterest yet, its an on-line pinboard application that allows you to “pin” and organize pictures (and related articles) found on internet sites for future reference.  I plan to get a Pinterest site set up for Archadeck of Central Iowa in the coming weeks.  But, in the meantime, feel free to follow my personal Pinterest site, HaroldCross.  While “personal,” I’m primarily using it to learn about Pinterest and how/if it can benefit my Archadeck business so it has a real “outdoor living” feel to it.  I’ve started some collections (boards) of pictures I’ve saved – outside of Archadeck sites – that I can use for design inspiration and ideas in our custom design process.  So, if you want to get a sense of things I like – besides Archadeck spaces and structures – check out my personal Pinterest site.   Feel free to re-pin from there or to pin pictures from our deck , porch and patio galleries in the Archadeck of Central Iowa web site.
  • Photosynth – Now this is really cool!  A prospective client I talked to about a screen porch project on the south side of Des Moines turned me on to this….thank you!  Photosynch is a Microsoft-supported app that allows you to take panoramic photos and then upload, organize and present those panoramic views via a web site.   And by “panoramic,” I mean…panoramic!  360-degree (as soon as I figure that out), interactive zoom and rotation, horizontal/vertical scrolling…make yourself as dizzy as you want!  I’m on an experimental basis here, too…and still “practicing” with the techniques to get decent results.  But, I’ve got an Archadeck of Central Iowa public Photosynth site set up with views from a Des Moines deck, patio and open porch project we did in 2008…in my backyard (facilitates the experiment).  If you’re willing to follow my experiment, check it out (click the links here or search Archadeck_Central_Iowa on the Photosynth home page)…and watch for future panoramic views of other Central Iowa backyards.  I think this is going to be really fun!

We’ve accomplished much more in backyards around the Des Moines area this Summer and more projects remain to be built.  But hopefully this fills in the gap a bit.  Thanks for your patience and loyal following.  Stay tuned, I’ll fill in more gaps with more Archadeck designed and built outdoor living space project news as Summer fades to Fall.  In the meantime, we wish you an enjoyable Labor Day weekend and a nice (cooler!) Fall season of outdoor living.

Go outside and play!

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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.

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!

Better Building by Design – Johnston Deck/Gazebo Project

Hoekstra Gazebo and Deck, Johnston

When Tracy and John Hoekstra of Johnston, a northwest suburb of Des Moines, contacted us for a complimentary design consultation for their deck and gazebo project, they already had a good idea of what they wanted for their new outdoor living spaces.  In fact, they already had a gazebo!  Sorta.

When I met with Tracy over their dining room table, she pulled out her own to-scale plan drawing…and her ruler, her pencil and her eraser.  We proceeded to discuss their ideas for incorporating the gazebo kit they had purchased from a Pennsylvania-based, Amish gazebo supplier onto new deck space.   In those discussions, it was clear to me Tracy and John had put considerable time and thought into their backyard plan.  So clear, in fact, I wondered whether Archadeck of Central Iowa’s custom design-build services were really what the Hoekstra’s needed.  They believed they could assemble the gazebo kit onto a deck structure built for the gazebo.  They had a good design concept in place.  But, the eraser, the pencil and the ruler were there for reasons, too.  Tracy wasn’t convinced her design was “right,” so she was seeking professional help.

Tracy called her design “a loose plan for how something might come together in our final project.”  I think Tracy was just being humble; it was tighter than “loose” and was a very good basis to work from.  But, Tracy and I both recognized there were opportunities for improvement and validation of the design:

  • The Hoekstra’s property is pie-shaped; therefore, placement of the structure in relation to Johnston’s property setback requirements would be crucial to the success of the project

    Hoekstra's Backyard, Pre-Archadeck

  • Tracy’s design incorporated stairs in a straight run which neither she nor I were really satisfied with due to the railing required on a run of 5 or 6 stair treads; the railing conflicted both with Tracy’s desire for “openness” and my sense of the aesthetic association with the gazebo
  • Tracy desired multi-level, open, deck space, in addition to the screened gazebo and she envisioned separate grilling and seating areas.  The aforementioned stairs and proximity to setback lines also conflicted with the vision.  So, the question of how best to achieve this still remained with Tracy’s design.
  • Coordination and management of the entire project took on new importance to the Hoekstras as the scope of the full project came to light.  The desire to have it all look like it was designed and built together became important as well.

As our discussions progressed, it occurred to both Tracy and I that, indeed, Archadeck of Central Iowa’s custom design-build services, was exactly what the Hoekstra’s needed to bring their ideas to life.  We agreed to enter into a design/build relationship to first complete a viable design and to then build it for them…including installation of the gazebo.  In other words, Archadeck’s standard, full turnkey solution to outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories.

For that first step…the ”by design” portion of the project, Tracy and I met at our Urbandale design studio to interactively finalize her design.  As Tracy put it, we took her “jumble of ideas and developed them into a cohesive, workable, attractive whole.”  All the while with Tracy looking over my shoulder.  “Harold actively sought our input and combined it with his expertise to create a solution that was perfect for us and our space!” said Tracy.

Hoekstra Design - Plan View

The resulting plan met the setback requirements of Hoektra’s property and was approved by the City of Johnston.  And, it eliminated most of the railing in Tracy’s original design and achieved the open, multi-level space Tracy and John were looking for outside of their gazebo.  Belgard Hardscaping wall stones were used to bring additional texture and color to the space in the form of planter columns incorporated into the design to “book-end” staircases, level changes and seating areas.

For the “better building” portion of the project, our crew built the structures and hardscaping per the plan, installed the screened gazebo kit and had electrical service and a ceiling fan/light installed in the gazebo.  Not to mention, the Hoektra’s got to relax while all this was going on, rather than building some of the project themselves as they originally considered.  As for the construction experience, Tracy said “The construction crew was friendly and polite despite slogging through mud, working through rain, and steaming in the heat.  They showed up when they said they would and cleaned up when they left.”  And the best part, Tracy?  “Best of all, their work was outstanding!”

Hoekstra's Deck-Gazebo Project Design Rendering

The Hoekstra’s approach to their deck/gazebo project highlights the value that an Archadeck design/build relationship brings our clients:  comfort in knowing what you’re getting, what its going to look like and what its going to cost…and all “up front”…and guaranteed.  In a word, its “trust.”  But in Tracy’s words its:  “The Archadeck team was up-front about expected costs, and even reduced our final payment when a component was less expensive than originally anticipated!  What a treat to sit on our new deck and learn that we were actually under budget!  We felt like active participants in the project from design to construction.  The crew was friendly, the cost estimate right-on, and the end result beautiful – even better than we had imagined!”

Hoekstra Deck and Gazebo, Johnston

Thanks, Tracy and John Hoekstra!  Thanks for being open to using that eraser and for selecting Archadeck of Central Iowa as your pencil and ruler…and as your shovel, hammer and screwdriver.

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!  

Patio Planning Gets Grills Alight and Umbrella Drinks in Hand Sooner

Jennifer Miller realized while interviewing me for the “Patio 411” feature article in the Des Moines Register’s May 2011 edition of their Homestyle magazine that she should have been writing the article about patio planning at least three months ago.  Then you could have called me about your nice outdoor living space plans and beaten the spring rush!

But, she’s aware of the reality:  Her bosses aren’t thinking about patios and decks and porches in the middle of a cold, Iowa winter any more than you are!  So, she’s happy to write her story anytime of the year.

And I’m happy to have it written…anytime!  So, “Thanks,” Jennifer, for a great article and for “getting” what Archadeck is doing for outdoor living.

This past week, I had a prospect call with an interest in a deck and porch project on their new home in West Des Moines.  One of the first things she said was that it wasn’t something they were planning to do this year, but wanted to get plans underway for doing it next year.  Then, somewhat apologetically, she said she felt bad calling now, for something she wants next year, when we’re busy designing and building outdoor living space projects for people who want them this year.  I told her not to worry, my contention is that you can never call too early.  And, besides, after what Jennifer wrote, who am I to complain?

And speaking of stone and the Des Moines Register, in the May 15th Sunday Register there was an ad insert for Belgard Hardscapes.  Be sure to check it out!  As mentioned in the last post here, we’ve got a growing, national relationship with Belgard and we are excited about the support and resources they are bringing to the Archadeck system.  Belgard is a manufacturer of some very nice wall stone and paver products that we are incorporating into more of our outdoor living space projects…either as a patio integrated with a deck or porch or as accents to deck and pergola designs.  Here’s one such Des Moines-area project we’re nearly completed with:

TimberTech Deck - Belgard Paver Patio and Wall - Clive (nearly complete)

Stone, Front Pergolas and Other Things We Should See More Of in Outdoor Spaces in Central Iowa

So much to talk about…so little time… …so many Des Moines area backyards to enhance.  And a couple of front ones as well.

Its been a busy spring here at Archadeck of Central Iowa.  Des Moines can’t  wait to get outside and play!  As a result, I am failing miserably at my New Year’s resolution of writing shorter posts, but more frequently.  If I had written shorter, more frequent posts over the course of the past month, they’d be the following…presented here in Archadeck Digest form:

Screen Porch, Hot Tub Deck and Patio with Firepit

Spaces, Rooms and Accessories for Outdoor Living:  We’re seeing more and more interest around the Des Moines area in “combination” projects…decks and patios, patios and pergolas, screen porches and decks, decks and 4-season rooms.  And more!  I’ve written often about Archadeck being more than a deck builder…much more.  And this is why:  you want more.  You want outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories.  You want a plan that brings those together.  You want a developer you trust to put it together.  You want to feel secure in your decision to invest in your home.  Archadeck makes that happen through our integrated processes for designing and building outdoor spaces and our warranty and guarantee provisions.

Better Building by Design:  As outdoor living projects grow in scope, design becomes more important.  We’ve always taken a “custom design” approach to our projects.  Sometimes folks are surprised by this…not expecting the detail necessary in developing your perfect space…not realizing how much of a difference it will make in the outcome and in the decision-making process.  All before a single board is ordered, cut or screwed!  To take that “surprise” effect away, we’ve developed a complimentary Design Guide to give you insight into the factors you should – and we do – consider for you project.  You can review the Design Guide before you even contact us for your complimentary design consultation and by doing so help facilitate the design process as you move forward with us with your project.  Our Design Guide is available for download via our web site.  Or, call or e-mail us and we’ll be glad to send you a copy directly.

Front Porch Pergola - Carolina Coast Style

Pergolas…not just for the backyard: I’ve long thought there aren’t enough pergolas on the fronts of homes here in Central Iowa.  A few years ago, I was on a business trip in North Carolina and noticed a fair number of front porch pergolas (that made it a business trip, right?).  I’ve apparently been on a one-man mission to bring that style to the Des Moines area.  And, I’m starting to make inroads!  It’s a style that doesn’t fit for every home, but where it does…you can’t beat the “curb appeal” and the welcoming nature it offers at your front door.  We completed our first front porch pergola over the winter…and I’ll have (nice) pictures up to show once things “green up” just a bit more.  We’ve also got another front porch pergola design committed for construction later this summer.  And a couple more on the drawing board!  Stay tuned!

Cultured Stone Bar and Planters

Lets Get Stoned! (legally):  Stone – vertically or horizontally – adds so much to your outdoor living spaces.  Its another “thing” I don’t think there is enough of here in Central Iowa.  Whether it’s a patio space (horizontal) or column wraps (vertical) or any number of other accessories (seat walls, firepits, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, etc.) the textural addition stone – natural or man-made – adds to your space is very appealing.  Stone is becoming more prominent in many of our combination projects because stone is a more natural, intermediate transition (often in the form of a patio) from the yard to the wood and wood-alternative deck, porch and shade structures we build. Because of this, we’ve got a growing, national relationship with Belgard Hardscapes and are looking forward to the support and resources they can bring to the Archadeck system much like TimberTech, Azek, Fortress (railing and fence) and Feeney (cable rail) do for our deck spaces.  We’ve got a couple of projects we completed late last year and are about to be built this spring (as soon as the rain lets up) that we’ll post pictures of soon that exemplify this growing trend in outdoor living spaces.  Stay tuned!

TimberTech – Dare 2 Compare Road Show:  TimberTech brought their 2011 version of their Dare 2 Compare road show to Des Moines last week.  I had a little fun with this on our Facebook page, so rather than repeat that here…flip over to our Facebook page for that report.

A Weed Logo:  What do you think of this new logo?  Nike has their “swoosh.”  Starbucks has their “mermaid.”  I’m on a mission to have Archadeck | Outdoor Living have “a weed.”

See you outdoors!