Spring is moving gently around the corner of winter, and beginning to tease us with hints of the fun times to come in the heat of the summer. Not only is it a time to start cleaning and organizing your home from top to bottom, but it is also a time of planning. Many people begin to browse their seed catalog and envision their gardens lush and full of fruit and vegetables. Others begin thinking of summer vacation plans, and lazy days spent with family. For us....we begin designing the space in people's homes to sip on cool iced tea, and catch a random breeze at the end of a long day. The patio.
While many of us covet the special memories of vacation, sometimes the day-to-day memories of life are our most cherished. Even if I can't spend a week basking in the sun on a Hawaiian beach, I spend many a warm summer evening laughing with friends or family on our patio. Sometimes I watch the sunset with my feet kicked up, a glass of wine at hand and a good book to read in my lap. Either way, enjoying the smaller pleasures of life is my secret ingredient to happiness.
When designing your patio there are several areas to consider. Before you start choosing whether you want a wood deck or composite, stamped concrete or pavers, you should first consider what you will use your patio for most. You can also create different areas of your patio for different uses. Do you really enjoy eating outside, or do you live in an area where an abundance of bugs make it not enjoyable? Do you have a pool or other recreation area that you need to consider? Do you do a lot of entertaining, and need an outdoor kitchen and grilling space? Do you need a covered area? Once you have clearly defined what you will use the space for, you can really focus your design and decide what is most important for you.
Ultimately your space will come down to three main elements of design.
Surface: There are many choices for the surface of your patio and often times the climate and environment are the deciding factors in what you choose. Talk with your contractor and they can help you decide which surface is best to use. Cedar wood is often an affordable choice for homeowners here in the Northwest, but the artisian look of stamped patios are becoming more and more popular. Shown is a stamped concrete patio we completed which had both color and release added.
Cover: To cover or not to cover. If you already have a shady backyard, perhaps a cover is not for you. Many people like the relief from the sun under a new awning. Some like a little of both and prefer to go with a pergola instead. If you do choose to use a cover, it creates a very homey feel to your backyard, and invites you to relax.
Furniture & Lighting: Don't forget to leave room in the budget for furniture! Now that you have this great patio, you need somewhere to kick off your shoes and get comfortable. Lounge chairs with cushions in bright colors are a clever way to bring color into your green landscape as well. Make sure to decorate your table with some fresh flowers or candles.
Lighting is an important element for mood and setting. If you can't sit outside past dark, you are missing a lot of good moments.
Whatever your final design for your patio, it has to be unique to you and an expression of your own personal style. If you stay true to that, you too will find that secret ingredient of a happy home and life!