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A Win / Win Situation
By Carol McGarvey | Photography Courtesy Archadeck
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Archadeck of Central Iowa gets national recognition, and a Huxley family gets a backyard makeover.

Merea Bentrott of Huxley, the mother of four young children, is busy with all their activities. She also manages a home and the details of her work in the Office of the State Long-Term Ombudsman.

But taking the time last year to write a short 200-word essay reflecting the importance of family life won her the Dream Backyard Makeover contest, sponsored by Archadeck Outdoor Living, and a beautiful new spot for her family to enjoy.

Merea and her husband, Rick, who works in the animal health field, already loved their yard because it connects easily with neighbors’ yards, and they all have a view and access to a local park’s ball fields and play equipment nearby. “It’s just one big park, and we love it,” she says. “Neighbors, friends, and kids gather out there every evening for impromptu get-togethers. It’s wonderful.”

“In fact, our previous home was just over there within eyeshot. When we needed a larger home, we knew it had to be in the same neighborhood,” Rick says.

When Merea found out she was a finalist, she was ecstatic. “With today’s technology, this was by and large a contest through Facebook. Then there was a voting period, and it was suspenseful at the end.”

Harold Cross, president of Archadeck of Central Iowa, explains that 55 Archadeck franchises around the country promoted the contest; the contest’s national sponsors oversaw the voting and determined the winners. “The Bentrotts entered on a whim, and they ended up with a project worth more than $70,000. The contest’s whole premise epitomizes what Archadeck Outdoor Living does, especially in terms of creating wonderful, usable spaces for people to enjoy.” The Huxley project incorporates a deck, patio space, covered porch, an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, and seating wall.


Cross and the Bentrotts worked out the ideas in a collaborative effort, configuring the space for the family’s best use. “Homeowners demand more enjoyment and functionality from their homes today, both inside and out,” Cross says. “The contest—and its winning project—was designed to showcase how the products, services, and capabilities of Archadeck, TimberTech, and Belgard deliver that value outdoors.”

“When we created our wish list, we knew we really wanted to be outside as much as possible and make the most of our space,” Merea says. “The outdoor kitchen was especially important for Rick, who loves to cook dinner out there.”

“I love to experiment with my Big Green Egg grill. I have fun with chicken wings, ribs, pork loin, pork chops, brats, and bacon,” he says.

The makeover came at a good time—the original deck on the back of the house was showing its age and was becoming dangerous.

Now a new low-maintenance deck, designed for more practicality with bench seating, opens onto an expansive patio, a portion of which is covered with an open porch, and the outdoor kitchen. The patio also has a seating wall that’s perfect for defining the space and also provides extra seating for the crowd around the fire pit, reducing the need for numerous chairs. The fire pit acts as a natural drawing card, particularly on evenings with a slight chill.

Cross also notes that Rick complemented the new outdoor space nicely with new river rock planter beds around the entire house that pulls it all together.

Showcasing materials

As a contest sponsor, TimberTech provided low-maintenance, wood-alternative decking and railing products for the deck. TimberTech’s deck accent lights were also incorporated into the new outdoor space.

Likewise, hardscapes such as pavers and wall stones provided by Belgard were used throughout the patio space, including nuanced colors and patterns to add interest and detail to the finished look.

Belgard’s Harmony division custom-designed and built the outdoor kitchen, which arrived in three modules on a flatbed truck on a frigid day in mid-November. “We were working toward Rick being able to cook the Thanksgiving turkey on the outdoor kitchen,” says Cross. “But Mother Nature had other plans and it didn't quite turn out that way.”

Families gather

For the Bentrotts, a special evening “out” includes spending time with four to six couples, each with about three children, in their parklike yard, a meal cooked outside, and games of volleyball, golf, and basketball.

Merea and Rick both grew up in small-town Iowa, she in Pleasantville and he in Bennett. “What this means is that we’re right at home in Huxley, where we moved in 2005, while enjoying the proximity to Ames and Des Moines,” Rick says.

“With a busy family and projects we want to do inside the house, this backyard area would have gotten done last, I know,” Rick points out. “That’s just how things go. But now it’s done and we’ll get to enjoy it for years. It’s wonderful.”

Merea agrees. “No one will use this space more than we will. It’s just fantastic.”


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