Outdoor living in style

Stuck indoors with nowhere to go, homeowners everywhere have invested in creating or improving their outdoor living spaces, turning simple backyards into a relaxing retreat for summer fun.

Tom Ball, president of Ground Affects Landscaping in Sullivan, has seen an increase in calls to build outdoor entertainment areas over the past year.

Even in this Midwestern climate, patio kitchens and casual dining areas are more popular than ever, allowing for nearly year-round grilling. Wooden structures and pergolas provide privacy and shade on sunny days and the fire features are perfect for warming up on cooler nights.

Innovative lighting options can help complement outdoor spaces. LED lighting extends the enjoyment of endless summer nights, enhancing home ambiance and security. Color-changing lights are also on trend (think red, white and blue for the 4th of July or the colors of your favorite sports team).

Ground Affects can help with projects of all sizes, from new plantings to retaining wall installations to complete backyard transformations. Their expert professional design team works closely with homeowners, from consultation to completion, to create the perfect backyard oasis.

“We pride ourselves on quality and having a great group of employees who are dedicated, hard-working and pay attention to detail,” says Ball.

Outdoor cooking

Ground Affects can help you customize the perfect outdoor kitchen. Popular design elements include:

  • Integrated grid
  • Built-in bar and lounge area
  • Pizza oven
  • Fridge and sink

Ball’s advice to homeowners looking to spruce up their outdoor space? First, start right away. Most projects, especially in Wisconsin, are best done in late spring to early fall.

Next, do your homework, but don’t waste time asking too many companies for offers. Find two or three that you feel comfortable with and choose one to start your design. This will save you energy and help you build a lasting relationship for future projects and fixes.

Wisconsin Victory Houses

For a luxurious home, both inside and out, trust Victory Homes of Wisconsin. Their award-winning team is ready to help you customize every aspect of your new home, from floor plans to roof pitch, to make your unique vision a reality.

Victory Homes of Wisconsin can help you customize every aspect of your new home, both inside and out.

Victory Homes, an award-winning luxury home builder serving southern Wisconsin, offers clients a range of services and custom design options to fit their unique vision, says David Roembke, Partner and Vice President of sales.

For home exteriors, Roembke says the current trend they’ve seen among clients is contemporary and modern farmhouse exteriors. Victory Homes offers James Hardie vertical planks and batten siding to achieve that rustic look, paired with seam metal roof elements.

The most popular exterior colors are white or dark gray or black upholstery, Roembke says. Adding certain wooden elements, such as gable brackets, can “bring out the details of the driveway or gable”.

outdoor retreat

  • Contemporary or modern farmhouse style
  • White, dark gray or black upholstery
  • Wooden decorative elements
  • Flat or low-pitched roofs
  • Large porches

Stone, brick and stucco are also common materials used to add style to the exterior of the house. Roembke says roof styles tend to be flatter, or with a low roof pitch of 4/12, and they’ve seen increased interest in rubber membrane roof elements.

Large porches and covered outdoor living areas have also been popular among Victory Homes customers, according to Roembke.

To bring more natural light into your home, Victory Homes offers options to add a three-season room or a sunroom. Adding NanaWall Bifold Glass Doors can enhance these rooms.

Roembke says Victory Homes can also install outdoor kitchens and outdoor living areas with fireplaces or fire pits. Wolf outdoor grills, Dura Supreme custom cabinets and Thermotek heating elements are some of the brands that Victory Homes uses to complement these features.

“It really varies depending on the application and what the customer is looking for,” Roembke says of the brand selection.

Patio trends range from large, multi-level decks to stained or stamped concrete with top coverage.

To learn more about how to build the home you’ve always dreamed of, visit victoryhomesofwisconsin.com.

Chances are pandemic stress has weighed on you at least once in the past year. Luckily, you can turn your home into a stress-relieving oasis with smart updates to your outdoor spaces. 3 construction projects to consider:

rain garden

Adaptable and environmentally friendly, rain gardens are a reliable way to add value to your property. They are also a feast for the senses, infusing your garden with floral scents and visual interest. Their hallmark feature is a depression that collects rainwater and filters pollutants. Ready to build? A landscaper can help you choose the right size, shape, location and vegetation.

Recreational area

Want to melt away stress from the comfort of your backyard? Consider adding a designated recreational space. According to a recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects, many homeowners want versatile spaces that can accommodate anything from a yoga class to a movie screening. Or, if puppy playtime is your favorite form of stress relief, an area suitable for running, rolling, and fetching might be just what the doctor ordered.


An outdoor fireplace is synonymous with comfort. It’s also an invitation to make s’mores and tell campfire stories. Build a basic one yourself using concrete pavers or hire a professional to take it to the next level. Want a real conversation piece? Turn your yard into a bistro by adding a gourmet pizza oven.

No matter how you create your outer sanctuary, paying for it shouldn’t be stressful. According to Josh Fetting, director of consumer loan sales at UW Credit Union, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a smart choice for many home improvement projects.

“You can borrow exactly what you need, when you need it, and only pay interest on that amount. Not only can it save you money, but it can also prevent stress and help you enjoy your home even more,” he says.

UW Credit Union offers home equity products, mortgages, auto loans and more. Visit uwcu.org for more details.

Samples of Marling Lumber Decking Material Choices

Marling wood and homework

It’s time to say goodbye to the hassle of deck maintenance. According to Josh Ziegler, branch manager of Marling Lumber and HomeWorks, one of the most significant developments in outdoor living is the shift from wood to low-maintenance decking and privacy fencing. .

One reason: the price difference between more traditional treated wood or cedar and composite decking and fencing is shrinking. Ziegler has heard from many customers who have found that upgrading to composite or PVC fencing and composite decking is much more affordable than they had imagined. Plus, they tend to last for decades and require very little annual maintenance.

Composite decking is also available in a wide variety of colors and finishes to match your taste and style. Ziegler says two-tone or multiple color variations are very popular right now, along with black windows and exterior doors.

Marling Lumber and HomeWorks can also help with larger backyard renovations. For example, with more families staying home these days, many homeowners are installing in-ground and above-ground pools and turning to Marling Lumber and HomeWorks for surrounding decks.

Modernize your patio design

  • Add lighting to bring your patio to life
  • Make your deck stand out with dark accents or border colors
  • Install a black aluminum deck railing

Their design team is also available to help you bring other outdoor living ideas to life, whether you want to build a new deck, upgrade an existing deck, or even add a screened-in porch or three-season room to your House. You provide the general vision and measurements, and a designer can put the perfect plan on paper or even generate a 3D model to make it easier to visualize. They will also help find the right contractors to build the project. Plus, Marling Lumber and HomeWorks have an outdoor display so you can browse all the options available (not just small samples).