Patio Design Tips
Bring your indoor room design outdoors, with these tips on creating a functional layout.
After your patio is installed, you'll want to make it comfortable for you and your guests. Think about the last vacation you took to a sunny locale and how much you enjoyed relaxing outdoors. Now take that feeling home with you and create a similar feeling in your outdoor living space with plenty of cushy seating, separate areas for dining, a place for quiet conversation under the stars, a spot for cooking up sumptuous meals and an area for relaxing in a chaise lounge.
You might want to bring your decorating style from the inside of your home to your outdoor living space by repeating colors and furniture styles. Or go in a completely opposite direction and create a beachy retreat far from the sea or a mountain top terrace in the heart of the city. "Make it a great space to get away," says Greg Stone, landscape architect of Greg Stone Landscape Architect. "Make it something you look forward to enjoying when you pull out the furniture from the basement after the winter."
There are so many great products available now for your patio. You can now basically emulate how the interior of your home is decorated by using weatherproof fabrics, cushions, rugs and lamps that are designed to be left out in the rain and do not fade in the bright sun. You should just make sure to bring them in for the winter months in snowy climates and they will last for years.
"The whole industry (in outdoor furnishings) has changed," says Robert Welsch, landscape designer of Westover Landscape Design. "The sky's the limit." Robert suggests using an outdoor propane heater in colder climates to extend the season on your patio from March until November. They tilt and roll so you can move them around.
Use widely affordable outdoor rugs in areas like under the dining area and the living area on your patio. "Rugs feel good under our feet indoors and outdoors," Monica says. For lighting, use candles but also go for string lights in trees and turn them on when you are outside especially if you are grilling outdoors. "You wouldn't cook in your kitchen in the dark. Don't just do it for a party," she says.
Use ottomans, whether matching or in an accent color, outdoors so you can put your feet up and relax. And go for bold, fun colors instead boring beige. "Out in the sun, colors fade so be bold and be fun," Monica says. Even a striking black and white color combo would work. It has lots of energy.
For a real decorating twist, literally bring the indoors out. "Don’t be afraid to move indoor furniture outdoors for a party," says Monica. For a special occasion, she brought out a pair of black and white hounds tooth check wing chairs that were a big hit.
If you are set on white or cream colored cushions on dark framed metal or wood furniture then add some pizzazz with colorful accessories, suggests Claudia Tejeda, interior designer of Claudia Giselle Design. Add pops of color with pillows and throws and change them for special occasions. "Add red, white and blue pillows for the fourth of July," says Claudia.
If you think you might want a built-in fountain or fire pit on your patio you might want to try out a purchased version first. Fountains need maintenance and you may not have the time or want to do that and you may end up not using a fire pit as much as you think. "The purchased ones are the most flexible because you can move them around your patio to see where they would work best," says Robert Welsch, landscape designer of Westover Landscape Design.
For maximum use of the patio all year long, consider adding a seating wall along the edge of your patio to the initial plan. It's a less formal approach to seating and takes the place of furniture that’s put away for the winter. "It encourages you to walk out and still sit down and enjoy the space," says Greg. The seating wall should be about 24-inches wide and about 20-inches high and that it face a view, if you have one.
It's a permanent structure that typically has a veneer of stone and solid cap of stone for a smooth surface. A seating wall can also provide additional areas for guests to sit, place a drink or a plate of food while you are entertaining a crowd. In a pinch, you could move your dining table over, closer to the wall to provide more room for more guests. Just put out some cushions to soften the surface. A seating wall is also a great place to put pots of plants and lanterns for evening gatherings.