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Porch Perfect
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured gardens

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With the addition of a roof and help from Archadeck of Central Iowa, a Clive couple created a whole new room for outdoor entertaining.

Mary Jo and Ken Smith’s beautiful home extends quite naturally to the back of their Clive property. They built the home 13 years ago and have worked on a meticulous landscaping plan since that time.

They loved to entertain on their deck. But that elusive “something” was missing, and they wanted a bit more definition to the parklike setting that is created with their property and those of other neighbors.

“We had been ruminating about adding a roof over part of our deck to create an open porch or covered deck,” Mary Jo explains.

They were referred to Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa by a neighbor and asked him to come up with a plan. “Open porches are our most in-demand space,” he says. “This neighborhood epitomizes that popularity. Ken and Mary Jo’s project was the second of three open porches we’ve done on this block the past year. All are of a different style and configuration, yet all look natural to the home and setting.”

He continues, “Mary Jo and Ken have an awesome backyard that is beautifully landscaped. They have great ideas and have put a lot of this together. Their spaces have a warm, natural coziness to them. Our job was to enhance their enjoyment of their outdoor spaces.”

Dining space

With an existing corner L-shaped deck footprint and tight property lines to deal with, Cross and the Smiths settled on putting a roof over part of the existing deck to create a more interesting outdoor dining space.

“The challenge was to make the roof fit with the lines of the house,” Cross says. “The whole idea, of course, helps expand the outdoor living concept. It creates some shade and an intimate feeling for entertaining. Some homeowners like to make the porch a screened-in version, but Ken and Mary Jo like the more open feel. That works so well in this forestlike setting. Ceiling fans keep flying insects at bay.”

‘Boston’ and ‘Kimberly’ ferns add to the porch feel. Shades on the west side of the porch cut the temperature by as much as 10 degrees, Ken says.

Structurally, the roof addition called for new columns for support. Two of the columns now frame a bench for extra seating on the porch. Recessed lighting and glow lights add to the ambiance. The peaked cedar ceiling gives a warm yet airy feel to the new structure. Portable heaters help take away the chill, particularly when the Smiths and guests are watching football games outdoors.

Huge difference

By adding 2 feet to the length of the deck floor to better accommodate the roof, the space took on a much larger feel. “I cannot believe the big difference that only 2 feet can make,” Ken says. “It’s amazing.”

Cross also suggested adding a second short set of stairs from the deck. That gave better access to the backyard and gave the deck more of a porch feel.

At the open deck end, there’s a conversation area with comfy chairs around a fire table. Up a slight hill, the couple built a 30×20-foot patio, and Ken built a brick in-ground fire pit. It has a metal grate for when the pit is used for hot dogs and marshmallows. For dining, there’s a table with chairs in pink, fuchsia, and gold. Downlights and uplights, installed by Landscape Lighting Design, create ambiance.

The new look enhances elements already in place. When the couple built the home, they had the builder (Pineapple Homes) create a boulder wall on one side of the house for interest. The couple also installed a small waterfall, which puts out subtle, soothing sounds.

Numerous plantings

With lots of shade, the Smiths have at least 200 hostas around their home and in beds. Mary Jo has added numerous perennials over time—coral bells, ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas, along with ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, coreopsis, arborvitae, burning bush, and ornamental grasses on the boulder wall.

Other plantings include ‘Pagoda’ dogwood, butterfly bush, ‘Fine Line’ buckthorn, and creeping jenny for a bit of lime accent. “When it comes to choosing and planting, Mary Jo’s the brains, and I’m the brawn,” says Ken with a chuckle. For a touch of whimsy, Mary Jo hangs colorful paper lanterns on shepherd hooks.

Mary Jo and Ken love to entertain often, particularly small groups. They did, however, host about 75 guests for their 50th wedding anniversary party. The porch addition was completed in time to have a good christening at that special event.

“The porch looks as if it’s always been here. I so enjoy that aspect of it,” Ken says.

As for Mary Jo: “We love to sit out on the porch and watch the rain. It’s magical.”


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