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A New Living Room
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured gardens

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For an Urbandale couple, reinventing their deck space has been a win-win situation.

The living room in the home of Donna and Tom Lorenz is wonderful—fireplace, inviting feel, and a huge bank of tall windows. But the Urbandale couple wanted to extend that welcoming feel to the outdoor living space off the back of the house. With the help of Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa, they did just that.

“We just had a basic deck,” Donna explains, “and it was showing its age and its wear. We wanted a fresh, new look.”

Tom agrees. “We needed more room. We love to be outside and to entertain there. Our neighbors were familiar with Archadeck, so we called in Harold for some ideas. We absolutely love the results.”

“When I first met with Tom in the fall of 2012, we initially focused on creating a new, larger deck, one that wouldn’t have the maintenance associated with a wood deck,” Cross says.

Covered deck

Tom and Donna also had the idea to have a portion of the new space covered with a roof—an open porch, as Cross calls it. However, the couple wasn’t convinced that would work with the existing tall windows and roofline configuration. So initial plans focused on a larger deck that incorporated wood-alternative products for decking and railing.

A key consideration of the new deck’s design was retaining a staircase flow that still landed on the lower-level patio.

As discussions progressed, Cross showed the couple some conceptual ideas and renderings for roofline options and the addition of a roof over at least part of the deck that would change the feel of the outdoor living space. “Covering part of the deck would create a more intimate, functional, and valuable space for outdoor living,” Cross points out.

Tom, Donna, and Cross worked together over the course of nearly six months to plan the project. “Projects like this require some decision making by our clients,” Cross says. “There are size, shape, and aesthetic factors to consider, along with functionality and budget.”

He says that Tom and Donna had in their favor the fact that, while they hadn’t lived in their home too long, they had developed some long-term plans for the home. Their goal was to incorporate more outdoor living space for their children and grandchildren in their private backyard.

Pleasing results

The result is a deck with both open and covered areas. “It’s wonderful,” Tom says. “We can sit outside when it’s hot and sunny or even rainy and enjoy the view. It’s great.”

Plus, in the center of the seating area in the covered part is a gas fire pit unit that adds a glow and a lovely feeling to the entertaining and seating area. “That part has just been fun,” Donna says. “It gives a special feeling to the area.” The tailored seating pieces came from the Fireplace Superstore.

Over on the other open side of the deck is an umbrella table for snacks and for dining. This additional seating area gives family or other guests more room to spread out.

The new stairway landed where the original one did but was made more gradual by the inclusion of an upper landing. The landing includes a paver-stone planter box encasing a porch support post. The planter box adds a natural texture to the space and attractively divides the stairway into two paths. It also serves as a cornerstone to the open and covered areas of the deck.

The old deck space measured 160 square feet; the new space doubles that at 320 square feet.

For emphasis and a more finished look, the porch ceiling was finished with tongue-and-groove cedar. Archadeck incorporated recessed lighting into the ceiling, along with a ceiling fan.

Cross used Trex Transcends “capped composite” product line for the deck surface, trim, stairs, and the railing posts; the railing itself is Westbury’s Tuscany-style aluminum railing. Archadeck of Central Iowa achieved TrexPro builder designation in 2013, in part because of the use of Trex Transcends products on this project, as well as several others.

To christen the new space last year, Tom and Donna hosted a baptism reception for a grandchild and a great-niece. There were 45 in attendance to enjoy the new outdoor space.


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