In recent years, patio design has become as important to a backyard as landscaping itself, and for good reason. The contemporary patio is no longer a slab of cement lying haphazard against a screen door. There is nothing quite as relaxing as sipping a cocktail in the dwindling twilight on a well-designed patio.
As you’re creating your patio, consider the shape of your backyard; the best patios manage to tie the yard and the house together. Be sure your patio compliments your aesthetics from the building materials to the color of your outdoor pillows. Take some time to create the perfect design for your personal style. Ideas can come from anywhere; magazines, friends, a piece of jewelry or the pattern of a tie. Take a drive around the neighborhood and see what other folks are coming up with.
You also need to consider your budget. Patio materials can be quite expensive. According to This Old House, a small 10 by 12 foot patio can easily accrue a $500 to $1,000 price tag, and as the size and intricacy of design grows, so does the cost.
Your choice of building material will play a huge role in the cost of your project. If you’re looking at wood, for instance, the difference between an expensive cedar or redwood and pine can be $8 per square foot or more, which really adds up as designs grow larger.
Composite material, building material that’s a combination of different ground up woods and resins, can be a great alternative to wood. Plastic alternatives work well, too, and because they don’t rot, they can last a long time.
Brick or stone patios are quite popular right now. Their cost is comparable to that of midrange wood. With brick and stone, you also have the freedom to create interesting patterns, such as the charming basket weave, or the more eclectic herringbone. You can also use bricks and stones to create intricate designs such as spirals, stars and labyrinths.
Consider the precise location of your patio as well as materials and style. Are you planning to eat outside frequently? Perhaps placing your patio close to your backdoor or kitchen would be wise. Are you interested in a remote getaway in your backyard? Move the patio off to the side or away from the house. Just remember that form follows function; take your expectations of your patio use into account.
While you're imagining relaxing on your new patio, where is the sun falling? What about your exposure to wind? If you think you'll need a little extra shade, consider adding trees. If wind chill could become an issue, add a trellis to block breezes. Trees and trellises can also do a great job of shielding your patio from unsightly views or highway noises. And if you're in the middle of some serious traffic, they can also help with creating a little privacy. Trees and fencing do a great job of guiding the eye; think about framing portions of your sightline that are particularly picturesque. Just make sure to take the root patterns of trees into consideration; you wouldn’t want them to compromise your ability to install electricity for your lighting or water for your fountain.
Think about theme and overall feel of your patio. Current popular patio styles range from the groomed contemporary to the wildly eccentric. Include steel or aluminum accents, straight lines and simple furniture for rooftop patio overlooking the bustling metropolis. Or accent your fairy garden with ferns, candles and colorful tablecloths. Cabana-inspired patios can include umbrellas and woven furniture, tiki lights and the smell of saltwater. Don’t be afraid to use lighting, material, plants and trees to your advantage. Install a water fountain or include some stone sculptures; hang lanterns or fashion an outdoor tapestry.
Outdoor furniture comprises an entire niche of furniture manufacturing. You should be able to find the perfect dining and seating materials for your creation. Eat picture-perfect picnics on outdoor wicker benches, or construct your own seating using the bricks and stones from your patio floor. Pillows, blankets, tablecloths and napkins are available at local stores as well. Build in a barbeque area, a wet bar, a fire pit.
Wherever you find your inspiration, whatever materials you use or furniture you purchase, your patio will be perfect if it’s designed with you in mind. Take the time to adapt your design to your backyard landscape, to external factors like sun and sound and to your aesthetics and personal style. You wont’ go wrong.