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By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
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When Ruth and Scott Meyer built their West Des Moines home in late 2002 for their busy family with four children, it had a large deck on the back. “It was OK for what it was, I suppose,” Ruth says, “but we really couldn’t use it as we wanted to. Our backyard is on the west, so with lots of hot afternoon sun beating down on the open deck, it just wasn’t as useful as it needed to be for us.”

Along the way, the Meyers determined that the growing building trend of a covered deck had practical appeal for their situation. They also wanted to expand the living area and add an outdoor kitchen.
“With the additions of a roof and an outdoor kitchen, we knew we would expand our living area extensively,” Ruth says. “We really enjoy entertaining a lot, mostly in a casual way and, of course, family events. As the kids were getting older, they, too, would want to have parties and friends over. It was time for a new look.”

Perfect Solution
And that’s exactly the finished project they got. They contacted Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa through a referral. “The primary issue facing this situation was the west sun. It really did hamper the family’s use of the deck,” Cross explains. “The open porch or covered deck concept was such a logical conclusion.”

He designed a covered deck that makes the western sun palpable and indirect. Now raindrops can’t dampen the meals on the deck. A ceiling fan keeps breezes moving. Cross designed the space so that the outdoor kitchen grilling area is conveniently positioned near a door opening onto the deck and under an existing roof overhang. This provides easy access to food, utensils, and accessories from the indoor kitchen and, at the same time, keeps the cook dry if it rains.

“Low maintenance was another of Scott’s and Ruth’s concerns, so we used a low-maintenance wood-alternative decking product,” Cross explains. For a clean-lined look, there are aluminum balusters for the railing. In keeping with the traditional look of the family’s home, he opted for a stone wrap on many of the posts.

For design interest, as well as for safety, there are unobtrusive lighting accents around the deck and down the stairs from the main deck to the lower patio area. “These add a glow that comes on automatically,” Cross says, “but they also are a subtle safety feature, and that’s an important consideration.”

“We so enjoy this expanded and covered deck,” Ruth says, “and we literally can use the outdoor grill all year if we want.” For parties, she likes built-in bench seating to cut the number of chairs to be added.

Plus, she says the covered patio adds to the feeling of privacy in their parklike backyard. “It helps create a rural setting right in the middle of the city. We absolutely love that feeling.” The lower level patio includes a secluded hot tub.

Natural Landscaping
Ruth and Scott used the landscaping design plans of Stone Creations, owned by Nate and Leah Hutchins, who have been in business for 10 years, for finishing off the lower level. “We wanted a natural look with a water feature and a solution to a sloping yard, which made mowing near the house a dangerous issue,” Ruth says.

“This project was really fun for us,” Leah Hutchins says. “Ruth and Scott had some ideas, and we expanded those a little. We used a pond-less water feature, a stream-style waterfall that adds great sound. We used mahogany sandstone for the curved pathway and the little bridge over the water. It’s a material with interesting color variations and it comes from Texas.”

Visitors note the subtle curves in the landscaping. The pathway leads to a round fire pit, where Ruth says the kids enjoy roasting marshmallows and hot dogs when friends visit. Built-in stone seating around the pit eliminates the need for extra chairs.

To add interest and color, Nate and Leah added low-maintenance perennials to the scene— hydrangeas, black-eyed Susans, coreopsis, dwarf zebra grass, and maiden grass. For height, there’s a Japanese maple.

Leah laughs about the finishing touches to the project. “We promised it would all be done by the graduation party of one of the daughters. Weather didn’t always cooperate, so we knew it would be tight. Let’s just say that we were walking away as the first guests arrived for the party.”

So the deck and the landscaping got broken in on the first day of completion. Another family member, the lovable mixed-breed dog Molly, loves bounding up and down the steps to the deck, as well as cooling off in the water feature and taking a quick drink of water.

“Sure enough,” says Cross, “the whole concept changed the family’s whole focal point of outdoor living.”



Archadeck of Central Iowa





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