Design Exercise: Covered Deck and Patio in Great Falls, Virginia

Posted in: Screen Porch in Northern Virginia, Decks and Patios, Deck Screens, Deck Design, design aesthetic, patio design, design exercise, design blog

James Moylan

Friday, February 13, 2015

Outdoor living space in Great Falls, VA

The Scenario

Bill and Eileen are two of many Virginians who call Great Falls their home. They purchased their 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom house in 2002 and have since grown to a family of five with three young daughters. With the amount of room the property has, the couple will be living there for the foreseeable future and has already completed several renovations to its interior.

With a reinvigorated kitchen, a basement-turned-bar and game room, and an expanded master bedroom, the couple's attention has turned to their deteriorating 25-year-old deck that is showing signs of its age. As Bill and Eileen come from large families, they are looking for an outdoor makeover to support the scale of holiday gatherings they are accustomed to as well as birthday parties, play dates, and other events year-round. With their current set-up not meeting these needs, it's time to makeover their outdoor living space.

The Design Requirements

  • Deck layout with multiple levels and a patio
  • Large enclosed deck area in the form of a screened porch
  • Outdoor kitchen area
  • Outdoor television
  • Integrated fire pit and/or fireplace, such as an EcoSmart firebox
  • Gardening area

The Proposal

outdoor living space schematics virginia

Outdoor Kitchen

The plans introduced were conceived to address Bill and Eileen's needs without compromising the home's existing character. For example, Eileen loves to cook and is particularly fond of grilling outdoors during the summer. However, like many cooks, she dislikes being interrupted and needs her space while practicing her craft.

She requested an outdoor kitchen space that would give her enough area to work while keeping her guests, children, and husband out of the way. By integrating a U-shaped counter outfitted with bar seating around the cooking area, Eileen and her potentially dangerous cooking environment are isolated from these loving but overzealous distractions without removing her ability to interact with them when she wants to.

Outdoor kitchen area in Great Falls, VA

Green space and safety

The kitchen area, located on the first deck tier, is skirted by built-in flower boxes; the ones separating it from the yard are made of stone, while those cascading from the upper deck level consist of wood planks. The wooden planters are strategic design elements that create green space and a smooth deck-to-ground transition while eliminating protracted stair runs. Meanwhile, the stone planters protect the family from walking off the side of the deck while similarly adding green space to the large decking area. 

Screened porch and seating accommodations

The large 30' by 16' screened-in porch extends beyond the kitchen area. It contains an outdoor television and a seating area protected from the elements and pesky bugs. The significant amount of space is more than enough to accommodate an eight person table with room for more. Railings are built around the porch's perimeter to comply with local codes due to its elevation.

While permanent screens can be installed, this porch incorporates motorized retractable screens that attach to the deck's exterior when deployed to increase the versatility of the installation.

Outdoor living area with fire pit in Great Falls, VA


Patio area and fire pit

The stairs lead a path from the porch and deck to the flagstone patio where the fire pit, pergola, and additional seating are located. The pergola is connected to the house and creates shade for guests hanging out between the house and garage while doing so in style. A raised garden area flanks the rear of the garage where herbs and vegetables are accessible and will receive plenty of sunlight when in season. And finally, a gas fire pit is on the side of the patio where the patio furniture is situated.

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The names of the individuals in this story were changed to protect their identities