Spotlight on Mom’s Design Build: Lake Elmo Pergola Project

White pergola over outdoor furniture with green hedge in background

Over the years, the Becken family has grown and now their gatherings include 25 people—Kay and Tom, their five grown children and spouses, plus 13 grandchildren! While the house Kay and Tom built 40 years ago is large enough to accommodate their extended family, when everyone wanted to enjoy the warm weather, they didn’t have quite enough space. Left with a choice between sitting outside or squeezing onto the porch, the Beckens knew they needed to create a new space where everyone could relax while being protected from mosquitoes and harsh weather. That’s when the Beckens turned to Mom’s Design Build in Shakopee, MN.

Creative Answers to a Building Obstacle

The home was set on Downs Lake, a natural habitat, at the 100-year flood setback. While the original porch’s proximity to the water was allowed, it could not expand any closer. To create a new living space that complied with the flood plain restriction, the Mom’s team had to get creative. By designing an “addition” that isn’t a full-fledged addition, they were able to meet both the homeowners’ needs AND the land use regulations. The 12’ x 20’ porch extension has no foundation (just grade-level paving), and while it is attached to the beam that supports the porch, it is not considered an addition under city rules. The room features a motorized “roof” and roll-down “walls.” The Arcadia louvered aluminum roof system creates a pergola when opened but can become watertight to protect users from wind and rain when closed. One wall is made of EZ-Screen panels with adjustable panes that can be moved up or down and the other walls are larger retractable Phantom Screens. These screens can roll up into the pergola frame, with two tracks, one for screens and the other for clear vinyl panels. These options mean that during the daytime, the room can be completely open to summer breezes and in the evenings the screens can be closed to keep the patio bug-free. The room can also be used on chilly day, the Beckens simply slide down the vinyl panels for protection from the elements without obstructing their views of the lake and wetland.

Additional Details

Expanding their porch was only part of the Beckens’ outdoor project. They also added an open patio with an outdoor kitchen, including a grill with a small prep area and a trash center, as well as a fire pit and a raised stone planter filled with colorful annuals and tropicals with dramatic foliage. Now, the Beckens no longer stress about the weather or trying to squeeze everyone into a small space during their large family gatherings. They know they have ample space for everyone to gather while being protected from the elements and pesky insects.