Transition with Decking

by Kacey Larsen

While the focus of outdoor living spaces revolves around how homeowners plan to use the space, it is also important to determine whether they want their new space to blend in with their existing spaces or stand out as unique. The following projects achieve blending seamlessly with the existing architecture, and decking selection played a role in accomplishing that balance.

Victorian Wrap-around

With grand Victorian homes making up much of the neighborhoods in Winchester, Mass., homeowners sought to turn their home’s exterior into a stately residence. Cummings Architects —Mat Cummings, principal architect and owner — in Ipswich, Mass., was hired to design an expansive wrap-around porch that created shaded outdoor living space while further blending the home with the Victorian streetscape.

“It was traditional for Victorian homes to have large porches as a meeting place at that time,” explains Chlöe Rideout, manager and head of marketing for Cummings Architects. “The porch wraps around on two sides, so the homeowner still has ample play space for toys in the back for the kids and garden space in the front. The porch actually improves the use of the outdoors as it provides covered, usable space for the family to gather and is more welcoming than the bland front yard.”

To blend the 620-sq.-ft. porch with the existing home, many custom details were incorporated to maintain and further the Victorian style. Rich colors were used to match the fabric of the neighborhood. “Details like the goose neck handrails and lattice work are graceful and frequently used in original Victorian architecture,” Rideout says. The molding profiles used on the ceiling of the porch and trim were key to complementing the existing home.

Clear fir bead board was used for the ceiling with recessed lighting installed to allow the porch to be used for evening entertaining. Mahogany was the material of choice for the deck flooring. While the size selection for the clear fir board and mahogany were due more to construction norms than a design decision, Rideout confirms, “You do want them to run in the same direction. Decking looks better in wider planks about 4 in., and fir bead board ceilings are traditionally that width.”

Phases of Outdoor Living

Clients in Center Valley, Pa., bought their home knowing it didn’t have the outdoor entertaining space they wanted. That’s where Joshua Gillow, landscape designer and project manager for MasterPLAN Landscape Desing & Installation in Brodheadsville, Pa., came in. “The house had been very overgrown and out of date. They wanted to use natural materials, hence the reason we used the Brazilian cumaru hardwood decking and wanted to add a stone element for interest,” Gillow says. “I know we wanted to make sure the elements that we chose to construct the deck and all other features were cohesive to the house. Once it’s complete, I like the design to feel like it was built with the home, not like it’s a secondary thought or something that looks different than the rest, so we took a lot of time to make sure we matched the materials to make the spaces very cohesive.”

Phase one of the project was to create an outdoor living space off the home’s sunroom. The hand-chiseled stone from the front of the home was used to create a raised planter that also doubles as a support system for a pergola. Blending with existing features of the home was such a big part of the design that Gillow shares the pergola was custom built to avoid blocking views and sunshine. “We didn’t want that deck structure itself or that entire area to impede on any of the sun flow coming onto the sunroom or block off the roof. We created a custom pergola, and we didn’t end up having a problem with blocking a lot of that light,” he says. “There’s a long window that runs kind of between floors, and we didn’t want to cover that so we created a notch out [in the pergola] so we didn’t have any problems with that.”

Phase two of the project initially went back to the drawing boards, because the homeowners wanted to incorporate and revise a few other features before continuing. The previously very, very sloped backyard was flattened to give the appearance of always being so.

While the deck space created during phase one remained unchanged, Gillow describes phase two as “drastically changing everything around that deck.” A pool, spa, pool house, patios, lighting and landscaping were all introduced in phase two, and everything blends seamlessly with the existing home features and the other outdoor spaces.

Blending Covered and Open

Seeking an area where family could gather, relax and enjoy the outdoors, homeowners in Wanye, Pa., contacted Gardner/Fox Associates, Inc., based in Bryn Mawr, Pa., about a sunroom and deck addition. “The owners wanted to have the ability to entertain outside in a covered and open space. We designed and built a new screened-in porch area to replace the existing deck as well as constructed a new deck,” Jeff Brinton, head of the residential design department at Gardner/Fox Associates, says. “The also wanted to have an overflow area with seating at grade level. The lower level patio area is constructed of flagstone with perimeter low stone walls that function for seating.”

The homeowners wanted the new spaces to tie into the current architecture of the home, so similar roof lines and materials were used. The roof design of the sunroom helps break up the height of the rear. Stone elements of the lower patio area were selected to visually tie in the natural surroundings at grade level, Brinton explains. Low-maintenance materials were also a priority item.

“Materials needed to be maintenance-free, composite types. Stain- and scratch-resistant AZEK decking and railing were selected for the project because it performs well over time and under pressure,” he says. “For the covered porch and deck, AZEK flooring was selected to be the same because the homeowners wanted a seamless transition from the interior to the exterior. The painted bead board ceiling in the porch was also chosen to add interest and dimension to the space.”

Changes in the backyard’s grade heights played a factor in the design and placement of the patio and the design of the stairs that lead from the deck to the patio. Landscaping around the outdoor space was unaffected by the project, though additional landscaping was added where needed.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More