Schwenksville, PA | 5 Weeks

Scalley Residence

Having an existing deck that was too high maintenance and not efficient for the space, this family knew that it was time to start their backyard transformation journey.  Wishing they had more shade and privacy, they were not able to fully envision the potential for the space and how all the pieces would fit together.  “We love that this is a design/build concept.  We know of several pieces we want but need the help of your design experts to bring our thoughts to real life!”

Designer Comments

The backyard space was practically unused by this family for several reasons.  The not-so-pretty carpeted deck layout spanned a majority of the width of the home which was too large, the staircase did not connect to the backyard so the kids didn’t have an easy time when they wanted to head out to play and overall the space was underwhelming and not welcoming.  Living with the lackluster backyard features for a few years and with a growing family, the homeowners knew it was time to start their backyard transformation journey!

During our initial consultation, we reviewed the desired wish list for the space and discussed a few of the homeowner’s concerns.  Namely, the existing roofline and skylights were an initial concern when thinking about adding a roof over a new deck or patio; they just couldn’t visualize how that would work properly.  Assessing the roofline, we presented the idea of an attached lean-to style roof to allow the existing skylights to be extended into the proposed roof while being able to add 2 new skylights into the roof system to allow natural light back into the space as well as inside the home.  In detail, the roof was finished in the same style and color shingles as the existing home’s roof for continuity and the interior ceiling is a white tongue and groove finish which brightens up the space and is extremely low maintenance.  The recessed ceiling lights effortlessly blend into the feature, just as inside the home and the ceiling fan not only aids in grill ventilation but provides a nice breeze on the hottest of days. However, the family is not at a loss on the cooler days either!  After a thorough discussion, it was realized that Bromic infrared heaters would be the perfect addition to the deck and roof space to direct heat into the most used spaces to extend the family’s enjoyment and comfort while watching the big game or playing with the kids in the cooler spring and/or fall seasons.

With that concern out of the way, next was to determine if a patio or deck would suit their family best.  Originally the homeowners were drawn to a patio, but after discussing all options and with careful consideration, they fell in love with a seamless transition deck that was at the same level as the first floor of the home, allowing daily activities to flow effortlessly into the new outdoor living space.  The decking selected is TimberTech Terrain in the color Brown Oak, which is an excellent choice for composite and low maintenance enjoyment.  The decking was installed with a hidden fastening system so there are no nail or screw marks visible!

Also wanting to capitalize on some added privacy in the space from the next property, we started to discuss the options for a feature wall to break the line of sight and provide a beautiful backdrop to the space.  Blending the feature wall into the lean-to roof structure allowed additional utility to the space such as a backsplash for the kitchen, tv location and a focal point with its orientation and material selection.

The feature wall leads to the built-in kitchen area on the deck which includes a propane grill, storage and a refrigerator.  To ensure smoke didn’t get trapped under the roof while preparing their favorite meals, we created a passthrough in the feature wall for cross-ventilation and an area for smoke to exit the structure.  The inclusion of a ceiling fan also aided in this solution.  Our favorite part of this kitchen is the extended white granite backsplash on the feature wall and the same granite for the countertops.  The whites, grays and slight browns in the granite helped the space feel light, streamlined, clean and airy!  To complement the granite, a white shiplap was selected for the kitchen finish keeping it uncomplicated, chic and sophisticated.  We made sure that the outside of this feature wall was finished with the same style and color vinyl siding as the home, so everything looks as if it were built all at the same time.

Another concern to address was bugs!  It is no secret that certain people are bug magnets, and this family knew that all too well.  As a number one priority for the space, we almost immediately started discussing the options to screen it in.  Screens would allow the family to enjoy the space fully without being mosquito bait and keeping other annoying bugs at bay.  We talked through the pros and cons of both fixed and retractable screen systems to make sure we covered all bases.  Without hesitation, the family knew that a Phantom Screen System was exactly what they were looking for!  This type of screen system would grant them the ability to use the screens at their leisure.  One touch of a remote button and the screens would descend, and another button push would retract the screens back up into their pocketed beams, completely out of sight and out of mind!  To make sure the rest of the space did not provide any opportunities for bugs to enter, we installed fixed screens in the open roof gables, a fixed screen in the feature wall passthrough and knowing that bugs also crawl, we installed a fixed screen under the deck boards for full, 100% protection!  The deck railing is strategically placed to the inside of the screen system so no pets or kids can run the risk of busting through them when they feel rambunctious!  The black aluminum railings are sturdy and are easy to clean from any pollen or dirt build up.

Knowing we did not want to build the deck in its original footprint because of its wasted space, we designed the size of the deck very efficiently for the family’s needs, but we still needed a connection to the living room door for additional access to the outdoor living space.  We extended the deck to this door with a “runway” of sorts, which eliminated the need for a separate staircase.  This orientation gave us the perfect opportunity to tuck the hot tub right off of this runway while the deck itself created added privacy!  The patio connecting to this waterfall step staircase created another seamless transition but this time to the backyard.   The pavers selected for the space are Techo-Bloc Blu 60 smooth in the color Champlain Grey.  These pavers give a complementing contrast to the home and the rustic feel of the covered deck.  This patio is where the family envisioned their dining table, so the sizing was important for a 6-top table to fit comfortably without being too close to the landscaping beds or the hot tub.

Nearby, the main landscaping bed will provide additional shade and privacy to the dining area and the low maintenance perennials will provide pops of color to brighten everyone’s spirits through the season.  The pavers continue into a walkway that eventually meets the driveway for a welcoming and easy transition from car to comfort.  Connecting to the walkway, the homeowners inquired if there was anything we could do to give their mudroom staircase a makeover, so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.  No problem here!  As a finishing touch we capped the steps and landing with bluestone and installed stucco to the sies of the staircase to tie into the home’s aesthetic.  And, as always, we finished the space with landscape lighting for safety and ambiance when the sun sets at night.

Overall, this space went from an inefficient and underwhelming deck and walkway to a covered deck with a built-in kitchen, fire table, infrared heaters, comfortable furniture and beautiful paver patio with a hot tub that allows the family to enjoy themselves no matter the weather and season.  We are so fortunate to work with such amazing families and we are thrilled that we were able to transform their unusable deck space into an organized, functional, beautiful and problem-solving outdoor living space that they can enjoy all year round!

Client Wish List

  • Patio and/or deck for family enjoyment
  • Roof structure for overhead protection from the elements
  • Retractable screens to keep pesky bugs away
  • Skylights to allow natural light into the space and home
  • Feature wall for added privacy
  • Built-in kitchen
  • Fire feature for ambiance and warmth in the cooler months
  • Hot tub area for relaxation
  • Low maintenance landscaping and lighting

"The outdoor living space now is something we can use year-round. Whether it is watching the Eagles games or hosting events here, we love it!"