Creating a Perfect Patio
I often feel like I spend ¾ of the year gazing longingly at our patio, waiting for the perfect excuse to use it. I’ll wait for the weather to be right, for a good weekend to have friends over. But a patio isn’t just a piece of your yard: it’s like another room in your house. By treating the patio as such, you can create an amazing living space that works with the rest of your house. You won’t be stuck waiting for the right excuse to go out there. It’ll be a part of your daily life!
Taking Advantage of Your Patio
Often a patio can feel like an extra space meant only for special occasions. But when you reserve the patio for large gatherings, you aren’t getting the maximum potential out of your space. Whether you’ve already got a patio, are planning to build one, or want to expand an existing patio, there are plenty of things you can do to accentuate your patio.
A good patio should be a little bit of everything: kitchen (grilling), living room (lounging and parties), and yard (gardens! firepit! Games!). It’s a fun space, a place for lots of energy, and also a place to relax.
Making your patio functional in all these ways can take a little bit of planning since a good patio is also a compact patio. By breaking down the different functions you’d like to use the space for, it can be easier to see how the space will work. The end goal should not be a patio to use just for special events. The end goal should be to have a patio that makes every day a special event.
Also consider that the patio is there year-round. While summer may mean lounging in the nice weather, BBQs, and roasted marshmallows. But what about fall? Spring? Winter even? A little bit of overhead coverage and a fire pit might make the grilling area great for watching a football game.
Devoting Space to Activities
In order to think of the functional spaces you want for your patio, think of some activities. Patios are versatile so it’s easy to make a space that functions in so many different ways – you just have to imagine the possibilities. Make a list of your favorite outdoor activities, and then think of some accessories that might help your patio fit that activity. I’ll take a look at some popular patio options to help give you an idea of how your patio could work for you.
Summer barbecues are, perhaps, the ultimate use for a patio space. There’s nothing that says summer like a cool drink and cooking outdoors. But is your patio designed to enhance the BBQ experience? Why not transform the patio into an outdoor kitchen, with concrete counter spaces that double as prep tables or a spot to eat? Creating a comfortable dining area is also important. You can use weatherproof furniture and tables. Or for the true barbecue connoisseur, think of an all-brick built-in grill built to your own specifications. Heck, why stop there: build a pizza oven! That’s a party your neighbors won’t soon forget.
As I said before, a patio is an excellent living space. Your backyard can be a haven of relaxation. Just you, the sweet sounds of nature, and as much vitamin D as you can absorb. When considering how to make the space functional, don’t forget about comfort. A good patio table and chairs can also double as a spot for relaxation. Get a couple sun loungers and you’ve got the perfect space to spend the entire evening.
Games For Kids and Grown-Up Kids
Don’t forget about your yard while you dream up the perfect patio. The yard space is a great extension of your patio relaxation. But not everyone has a green thumb to create lush gardens so why not make it useful in another way? If you’re the party-hosting type, a space for yard games can’t be beat. Whether it’s soccer, horseshoes, bocce or croquet, you’ll be glad to have open space where the kids can let off some steam. Or if it’s an adult-only soiree, injecting a little bit of the competitive spirit can be a lot of fun!
Setting the Mood
Patios are a great medium to allow form & function to work hand-in-hand to create both an aesthetically pleasing and a useful space. Your patio should have a particular “feeling” you want, whether it’s relaxing, fun, open, private or anything else that comes to mind. Great examples of ways to allow form and function to coexist are in your decoration and your gardening.
If you’re looking to shade your patio from the neighbors, there are plenty of ways to achieve this with plants rather than expensive walls. Shrubs are a classic privacy screen. They can take almost any height or shape you’d like, so you can create a perfect planted fence. Or, if you want to mix it up, things like Areca palms, potted bamboo and tall ornamental grasses add a whole different flavor to the space.
Another thing to think of is structural aesthetic elements. Things like lights, overhead covering and walkway material are all aesthetic choices that impact the functionality of a space. In terms of overhead covering, there are so many great options. Free-standing pergolas, patio coverings, and even arbors can all be fantastic choices. Personally, I love the look of a patio with a pergola that has climbing plants growing across it!
When it comes to walkways, looks and safety should go hand in hand, especially if your patio is near a pool. Brickwork and paving stones are popular patio choices, as is concrete. If you can’t choose, options like stamped concrete offer an attractive medium as well.
Transforming your off-and-on backyard space into a functional, livable patio doesn’t have to be a huge stress. By envisioning the possibilities a patio provides, you can integrate your patio into your day-to-day life. Transform it from a semi-functional space to the oasis you can’t wait to relax in after a long day at work. Imagine it as the perfect gathering space for friends & family. Soon the patio of your imagination will be the centerpiece of your happy memories.