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Passion Projects
Passion Projects

Now in his 35th year as the owner and president of ELA Outdoor Living – and with experience in the industry that dates back even further, to when he was a teenager – Keith Frederick would be perfectly justified in taking a step back and letting someone else handle the bulk of the responsibilities in his thriving business. That has never even been a consideration, however, because his desire to create resort-style outdoor spaces right in customers' backyards has never waned, not for a second.

To this day, Frederick meets every client and oversees design from the very first consultation, incorporating all of the items on their wish list in a holistic way.

"My thumb is on the pulse of everything in the company," he confirms. "All of my clients have my cell phone number and they can call or text me 24/7. Some people say it's just business, it's not personal, but it's personal for me, and I live and breathe it. If someone needs me on a Sunday, they can call me – that's the type of service we provide. If someone is making a large investment, you want them to feel comfortable, safe and well taken care of, and that's what we do here."

Born and raised in Bucks County, Frederick is a Perkasie native and graduated from Pennridge High School before moving on to Delaware Valley University, where he studied ornamental horticulture and environmental design. He started ELA in 1989 and has seen the outdoor living industry grow by leaps and bounds since then.

In addition to personalized, concierge service, ELA specializes in elaborate spaces that seamlessly blend an array of stunning elements together. Frederick's familiarity with Bucks County style, along with he and his team's expertise in all of the outdoor features a customer could want, make ELA the perfect partner. Rather than a homeowner acting as a general contractor and relying on a separate company for the pool, the patio/deck and the landscaping, all of those components are overseen by the same design/build firm.

"The fact that we're combining the element of horticulture with building and architectural design that can make these outdoor living spaces feel like an extension of the home is so important, whatever the style is, and we work with all kinds of styles," Frederick says. "There's not too many folks out there who can pull it all together and make it cohesive."

ELA welcomes clients to its design and showroom center, where they can better visualize their project with 3D software, ask detailed questions, and get introduced to different building materials and plant selections.

"They can become educated on building design, building products, new trends on the market and different plants not normally seen at a retail garden center," Frederick says.

Each project typically includes a floor, like a deck or stone patio, with walls in the form of plants, fencing or masonry stone. The ceiling can be a solid roof or a pergola, or even an aluminum motorized louvered roof, with louvers that can be open to let in light or closed when it's raining or too hot. ELA has a separate entity, The Louvered Roof Company, run by Frederick's wife Karen, to focus specifically on this in-demand specialty item.

Other popular amenities include fire features and outdoor kitchens that range from simple built-in grills to decked-out spaces with sinks, refrigerators and bars. The centerpiece of the project is often a swimming pool, and ELA is an independent dealer and installer of Imagine Pools, one of the world's largest manufacturers of fiberglass pools.

"The difference between a concrete pool and a fiberglass pool is basically that a fiberglass pool does not need long-term maintenance," Frederick says. "Eventually over time, a concrete pool is going to need to have the plaster redone, it's going to need to have the waterline tile redone, it's going to need the coping redone, because of freezing and thawing. With a fiberglass pool, there is no plaster, there is no waterline tile, and there is quite often a cantilever coping. They also go in very quickly and there's a lifetime warranty on the shell."

Outdoor living spaces are no longer just for spring, summer and fall, either. With the addition of motorized screens to the outdoor "rooms" and heaters to warm the space, customers can use them almost year round.

ELA handles each aspect of the project without subcontractors, since its staff includes experienced landscape architects and experienced building contractors. Most employees have been with the company for 15-plus years and, like Frederick, are local to the area. Plus, with an owner like Frederick leading the way, it's easy for his love of the work to catch on with everyone else at the company.

"The ability to pull all of this together is difficult for some folks, but we have a great team that's been doing this for a long time together," he says. "Everybody has a God-given gift, and for some reason this is my thing. I'm passionate about it and I care about it, and I care about the customers. It's not just a job – after a lot of these projects, it develops into a friendship."

ELA Outdoor Living
Doylestown, Pa.
(215) 794-2400

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 24, Issue 4 (March 2024)
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