Project Scope Owners of a 7,000 square foot Colonial home in Oakton (VA) are seeking a multi-level Mediterranean-style indoor/outdoor solution on the rear elevation. Created principally for dining and entertainment, the new complex must provide a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen, several serving counters with permanent refrigeration, and well-delineated socializing and dining zones. Structurally, the solution will be comprised of decks on two levels, a top-level screened-in porch and linking staircases. While the decking will serve the family’s general-use requirements (weather permitting), it must also accommodate periodic social gatherings of a hundred guests or more. The existing home’s setting offers impressive assets the new outdoor “built” complex will be designed to exploit. The sprawling acreage features old stand trees, wooded paths and a private lake. Beautifully landscaped, it unfolds as an idyllic panorama that naturally draws people to the outdoors. Hence, the design will introduce elements to highlight and reinforce an awareness of the lovely bucolic setting. Fountains and water features combined with textured surfaces and mosaic tiling and backsplashes will converge to present a villa-like ambiance well-suited to the Virginia countryside. Challenges Grading, Foundation, Infrastructure. Since the rear elevation is situated on a slope that drops away from the house, the contractor must raise the grade 2’ within in a 2,000 square foot area extending out from the back of the house. Infrastructure plans also call for a sophisticated drainage system that must accommodate a whole series of water “runoff” considerations to be integrated into the decking itself. Excavation includes constructing retaining walls to bolster the elevated grade—which must also support a concrete slab, the primary foundation for the entire complex. Solutions The ground level decking consists of a 2,000 square foot flagstone patio level with the home’s lower level doors. There is a decorative water fountain mid-patio—an ornate collectible acquired in Florida. Food preparation is concentrated within a specially designed semi-circular wall that delineates an “outdoor kitchen” equipped with a 60” Viking barbecue grill, a prep sink, a warming drawer, refrigerator and appropriate storage. There is a granite surfaced dining counter with seating for 8. Gas, plumbing and electrical lines have all been routed to hook-ups on both levels. Wrought iron railing and approximately 20 decorative columns (some encasing steel vertical supports) are incorporated into the design scheme. Many of the columns house accent lights. The top level—supported by horizontal steel beams– is a 2,500 square foot deck constructed entirely of Trex. The open air decking is, again, directly accessible from rooms on the second level of the house including the kitchen, sunroom and family room. The platform’s most prominent feature is a U-shaped “kitchenette” with cedar shake shingle roofing. Like it’s counterpart one level below, the facility is equipped with grill, refrigerator, and stainless steel cabinetry. One portion of the deck has been allocated for a 16’ x 16’ octagonal screened-in porch crowned by a pair of 2’ x 4’ skylights. The porch can be accessed from the home’s conservatory via a set of French doors. With its mosaic tile flooring, stained cedar panel ceiling and honed granite counters, the interior finishwork is elegant, yet softly restful. Hand-painted stenciling and a wall-mounted water feature provide distinctive detailing. The two decks are linked by an exterior staircase with 14 treads. To accommodate water-run off, the contractor installed a ceiling paneling system (comprised of grooved aluminum panels) within upper deck’s the subfloor. This innovation keeps the lower deck dry—even in a major downpour.