Creating the outdoor living space you’ve always desired can be an expensive business. By the time you buy the materials and hire someone to build it for you, that beautiful outdoor space you’ve dreamed of can potentially lead to bankruptcy, no matter how good the weather is. Here are a few tips to get that softwoods timber decking built on the cheap.
Do it yourself
This one is pretty obvious. Tradesmen can be sneaky and sometimes even lazy; and maybe you can’t really blame them when you think about the fact that they spend their working days outside in the hot sun performing demanding physical labor, if you had their life you might like to take it easy once in a while too. However, that doesn’t mean you have to pay for it! So when it comes to home improvements it’s always best to do it yourself.
Don’t pay for wood. People with plenty of spending cash are the only ones getting their renovations done with brand new wood. You just need to be a little more resourceful. There is literally forests of wood left over from other projects that never gets used, start lurking around building sites to see what you can snag, especially a large scale site because they always buy way more than they need. Don’t forget that wood can be used more than once, often when a house or building is torn down there will be loads of quality wood left over that you can often get for cheap or even free. Check the local classifieds and internet marketplaces for people giving materials away, often it is a big favor for someone to come and take it away. Don’t just stop at materials either, ask around amongst your friends to see what kind of tools they have.
Find some inexpensive help
Who’s going to be enjoying this brand new deck of yours anyway. Your friends? Husband? Wife? Kids? Well then they should help put in the effort to get it done. Kids especially are easy to get to help, not only will they learn from this experience, it could be a great family bonding time for you to get to know them a little better, like, find out what their lifting capacity is? Are they the kind of person that’s good at using power tools? It can be a bit trickier getting your friends to come along, adults are traditionally sharper at picking up on slave labor rackets but you can always offer them the first invitation when it finally gets finished.
Good things take time, and it takes more time to do things on the cheap. You will have to be prepared to wait for the right type of wood to come up, to go scavenging through building sites in the dead of night, taking a few planks at a time. Or you might have to wait around for that bloke you met down the pub who said he could do the landscaping for cheap in between his other jobs, and now all of a sudden he is too busy but maybe he could fit you in if you were prepared to pay his normal rate, forget him. It will be hard looking out the window of a potential future deck, sitting inside watching the beautiful weather pass by without utilizing your barbeque, however, when you see the difference in the bank it will be worth it, even if it takes six years.
Photo Sources: 1. Koch Architects, 2. Dennis Mayer Photography, 3. Decks by Kiefer LLC, 4. Terra Firma Design, 5. austin outdoor design, 6. Acorn Garden Houses, 7. ANNA CARIN Design, 8. E2 Homes, 9. Busybee Design, 10. Karen Garlanger Designs, LLC, 11. Fine Decks Inc
Trees on the Roof is modern single family residence designed to bring the outside indoors by Meditch Murphey Architects, located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Situated on a tight urban site, the house is surrounded by a lush fully developed tree canopy at the roof level which we wanted to be able to inhabit. So nestling into this canopy and developing the roof scape underneath it drove the design.
The roof is home to planters large enough to support twenty foot trees and a garden with soil deep enough to grow broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. Several balconies and sitting areas snuggle under the canopies. And, of course, there’s a solar array.
Natural passive systems were employed including natural shading, day lighting, and natural ventilation. So in addition to geo-thermal, solar panels, a TRV, radiant heating, super-insulation and green materials throughout, we can expect a substantial fall harvest from the rooftop.
The architects wanted to save water by utilizing a 1,500-gallon cistern, drought-tolerant plants, a rain garden, and pervious paving. They also wanted flexibility. The house transitions from one to four bedrooms by converting multipurpose spaces. The first floor is 100% ADA adaptable and visitor accessible, promoting “aging in place.”
Carbon impact was reduced by using super-insulated walls and roofs, geothermal wells, 6KW solar array, LED lighting, and an electric car (solar-powered). The architects educated the public by offering pre- and post-construction tours. Vocational school students learned deconstruction methods when removing the dilapidated, existing house previously residing on the site.
The L-shaped plan simultaneously creates spaces that receive light from multiple sides while promoting cross-ventilation. High ceilings and expansive operable glazing seamlessly integrate indoor spaces with the outdoors, while an indoor garden enlivens the stair tower year-round. The stair core also functions as a passive air chimney. Computer-controlled exterior louvers defeat solar gain in summer and optimize passive solar heating in winter.
The living room was designed as a kind of greenhouse – one that could open up completely to the outside.
The kitchen opens out to a raised herb garden.
Clerestories allow light in but not the view.
This vine reaches all three floors.
Two of the baths are complete showers with decking floor boards through which the water drains away.
The form of the building and its landscape are sculpted to store, filter, and reuse rainwater. Rooftop planters and vegetable gardens provide thermal protection, storm-water management, an abundance of seasonal food, and a bird’s-eye retreat.
The house’s walkability credentials are supported by nearby shops and public transportation. Integrated bike racks encourage homeowners to skip the car and start pedaling.
Can you see the glass floor in the living room – it’s designed to bring light to the lower level.
A studio space on the ground level.
Located in an established neighborhood of mostly conventional houses, this project provokes a new way of thinking about how we design, build, and live. The house is an integrated part of the landscape, a testimony to building sustainably without sacrificing comfort and beauty.
Photos: Michael Moran
Having an outdoor fireplace on your deck, patio or backyard living room instantly makes it a perfect place for entertaining and creates a dramatic focal point. Fireplaces are not only stylish but very functional and can add great value to your property. They also make a wonderful feature for those who enjoy spending their leisure time with friends and family in their outdoor living space.
Browse pictures below of outdoor fireplace designs for decorating ideas and inspiration. Add warmth and ambience to your outdoor room with a fireplace. From fancy to rustic, find an outdoor fireplace design to suit your home’s architecture and your living style. If you are still looking for some ideas for outdoor inspiration, have a look at some of our past articles on, 52 Spectacular outdoor string lights to illuminate your patio and 31 Inspiring and stylish outdoor room design ideas.
Selecting the right fireplace for your property is all about finding a suitable size that fits within the confines of your space and choosing the right materials to really create the perfect environment. When it comes to material selection, you need to first determine where you will be locating your fireplace, whether it will be in an open area that is exposed to all the elements or in a covered space. Most outdoor fireplaces are comprised of materials such as stone, brick, cement or even steel, which can all withstand harsh environmental conditions.
You also need to decide whether you would like to have a gas burning or wood fuel fireplace. Some prefer wood so they can hear the crackling sounds that brings you back to nature, where gas is more sleek and sophisticated and better for environmentally conscious types.
Gathering ‘Round: A fireplace serves as a patio’s focal point. A subtle pattern shift provides contrast in the patio’s floor. The fireplace’s surround extends into a built-in bench, offering even more seating. A poured concrete border extends to offer a back for the built-in bench.
Scene setter: This three-sided fireplace means that views are hot from almost anywhere in the yard.
Landscape architect Andrea Cochran added warmth to this outdoor living space with a long modern fireplace.
Add Drama: Create a focal point with a large stone fireplace. This one features rough fieldstone, which gives it a rustic look that fits well with the wooded setting. Ledges mark the edge of this outdoor room and offer guests a place to sit and enjoy the fire.
Modern Rustic Patio: Chairs around a glass-topped coffee table by a patio’s outdoor fireplace.
Outdoor Fireplace with pizza oven: Pizza oven, outdoor fireplace, outdoor living area, seat wall, paver patio, outdoor furniture, wood box, fire feature, planting around patio, cultured stone, natural stone, hearth, fire pit, outdoor kitchen, dining and living area, child’s play structure and play ground, spacious lawn and plantings.
Stone Fireplace: A stucco-finish fireplace adds textural interest to this outdoor gathering space. The smooth fireplace surround expertly contrasts the brick siding and columns as well as the rough-cut stone flooring and metal ceiling treatment.
Outdoor living in Charlotte: This stunning outdoor space includes, pizza oven, outdoor fireplace, outdoor living area, seat wall, paver patio, outdoor furniture, wood box, fire feature, planting around patio, cultured stone, natural stone, hearth, fire pit, outdoor kitchen, dining and living area, child’s play structure and play ground, spacious lawn and plantings.
Photo Sources: 1. Overstream, Inc., 2. Hugh Lofting Timber Framing, 3. BHG, 4. HGTV, 5. Midwest Living, 6. Culbertson Durst Interiors, 7. Nordby Design Studio, 8. Pinterest, 9. ARNOLD Masonry and Landscape, 10. Pinterest, 11. Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design, 12. Creative Sights N Sounds Inc., 13. Centre Sky Architecture Ltd, 14. California Home + Design, 15. Belgard, 16. Jason Dewey Photography, 17. LDAW Landscape Architecture, 18. Dana Nichols, 19. CM Glover, 20. Pinterest, 21. BHG, 22. Eldorado Stone, 23. Eric Olsen Design, 24. Pinterest, 25. Green Island Stonework, 26. Lonny, 27. Locati Architects, 28. BHG, 29. Albrecht Wood Interiors, 30. SALA Architects, 31. Witt Construction, 32. – 34. Pinterest, 35. Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design, 36. Sage Outdoor Designs, 37. Locati Architects, 38. Dewson Construction Company, 39. Toby Ponnay, 40. WA design, 41. Pinterest, 42. BHG, 43. Eldorado Stone, 44. Tatum Brown Custom Homes, 45. Pinterest, 46. SchappacherWhite Architecture, 47. Sunmar Construction, 48. TG&R Landscape Group, 49. Cornerstone Architects, 50. Locati Architects, 51. Outdoor Living Kits, 52. – 53. Pinterest
02 House was designed as a modern and luxurious single story property by Daffonchio & Associates Architects, located in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, South Africa. The house is set on a secluded, tranquil stand surrounded by established trees. The main house consists of 2 wings: the living wing and the bedroom wing. Both wings have long, low roofs which appear to float over and past them. These roofs are supported on external steel posts, as all of the walls stop short of the ceiling, with clerestory windows on top of all internal and external walls.
The clerestory windows allow views of the trees from inside the house, and admit a soft, diffused light into the house during the day. At night, the ceilings are lit up by means of fluorescent lights concealed below the clerestory windows. This creates a soft, ambient light, and enhances the floating effect of the roofs. The deep overhangs of the roofs and the generous concrete aprons around the house extend the house into the garden both spatially and visually. The deep roof overhangs also shade the glazing in summer, protecting the house from solar heat gain.
Along the full length of the northern side of the living area is a 16 meter long floor to ceiling motorized frameless glass sliding door. When opened, the door disappears into cavity walls, and the living area effectively becomes an open covered patio, with 2 large cavity sliders on the south side opening onto a secluded courtyard.
The entrance door was designed by South African artist Marcus Neustetter. It comprises a sheet of laser cut steel on the outside and laser cut walnut on the inside, with clear glass in between to let light shine in during the day and out at night. The laser cut image originates from a Google Earth image showing the topography of Johannesburg and the surrounding areas. The minimalist architecture, expansive spaces, soft natural daylight and white walls in the house serve as a backdrop for other artwork throughout the house.
The ecopool has been designed to read as part of the garden, with gravel banks acting as the transition between the garden and the pool, and planted wetlands blending visually with the surrounding landscaping.
Photos: Adam Letch
When Tanner Kibble Denton Architects took on the renovation and extension of an existing, heritage house located in Mosman on Sydney’s North Shore; they set out to create a spacious and contemporary family home whilst preserving the majestic charm of its original structure.
This project fully explores the relationship between indoor and outdoor. The main living space opens seamlessly to a level lawn and pool, framed with dense landscaping.
Adjacent the internal living space is the loggia, which operates beautifully as an undercover outdoor space. The room includes an outdoor fireplace and can be protected with retractable louvres and cavity sliding flyscreen panels.
The strong dark painted timber form of the upper level floats over the main living space, supported on slim steel flats, and sealed with virtually transparent sheets of frameless glass. Interiors employ stone, timber floors, timber veneer and a muted paint scheme that allows the owners art collection to add to the architecture.
Photos: Nicole England
The Squam Residence is a custom family home recently completed by J. Brown Builders, located on Nantucket, an island 30 miles south of Cape Cod, in the American state of Massachusetts. Nantucket is at once town and country, and one of the greatest gifts it gives us is the reminder that one need not always escape completely from the urban idea to find rest and ease. Nantucket island has a set of fairly rigid design controls. You cannot build as you please on Nantucket; houses must have pitched roofs, not flat ones, and they must be covered in unpainted shingles, which weather to a soft gray once they have survived their first Nantucket winter. The rules do not require that contemporary architecture precisely duplicate the old cottages that make up the fabric of Nantucket town and the smaller settlements scattered across the 25 square miles of the island, but they clearly demand a sympathy for the island’s older architecture.
The Squam Residence carries over this traditional exterior architecture, but gives a more modern approach to it’s stunning interiors. The luxurious home is built for entertaining family and friends, with wonderful seating arrangements, a spacious kitchen open to bright living and dining areas and sliding glass doors that brings the outdoors in. Stepping out to the exterior of the home, there is a fabulous landscape surrounding the residence, offering an incredible pool with plenty of patio space and furnishings for entertaining.
Photos: Jeffrey Allen Photography
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