In the summer months, many retreat to air-conditioned living rooms or outdoor patios for some relief from the often punishing heat. The private, home patio is often forsaken for seemingly less expensive and more convenient options. However, with the influx of inexpensive well-designed furniture and patio accessories, designing an outdoor living space to complement your home is easier than you think.
With environmental concerns in mind, an outdoor patio space increases air ventilation into your home which decreases the cost and energy consumption of an air conditioning unit. Furthermore, landscaping which accompanies most patios, allows for a oxygen-rich space.
Measure the space and draw a plan. Sizing and measuring the space is key to understand what you have and what you can do with it. Drawing a dimensioned plan of the space helps keep a record of your measurements as well as giving you an objective perspective space. Take note of any surface material changes as well as any landscaping. Plan, at least generally, what outdoor furnishings you will want on this patio. Do you want a small table or a large one? Lounge chairs or upright? A sketch to some scale will help you make the patio large enough for both the space and the people in it.
Choose an aesthetic or design. Many people feel that designing is art form. Designing an outdoor space can be done with a little logic and commitment to aesthetic, regardless of prior artistic experience. Take your floor plan and begin to plan out your space in large blocks. Consider how much exposure to the elements certain spaces receive. Is the view from where you want to sit a pleasurable one? Is there too much sun in your eyes? Don't limit yourself to square and rectangular designs. Curves, rounds, and other shapes, such as octagons, can give the patio an entirely different look. Your choice of material will have a lot to do with how the finished patio looks and feels. Do you want concrete? Gravel? Brick? Pavers? What color and texture do you want? Concrete, pavers, stone, and tile all come in many colors. Don't forget about sun and exposure. Is this a shady part of your yard or a sunny one? Will concrete or bright stone reflect heat into the house or hold heat long into the night? On the other hand, is this part of the yard very wet during the rainy season? Do you need to worry about drainage, pavers sinking or people slipping? If so, plan accordingly.
Add furniture and accessories. Look for a great set of patio furniture which is sustainable and affordable. Buy or borrow a stack of interior design magazines to get a feel for the different approaches to design that home accessories companies provide.
Include enclosure and shade. Do you want an umbrella, gazebo, or awning as part of your patio? Do you want a railing, wall, or ledge surrounding the patio?
Add plants and landscaping. Chances are, the point of your patio isn't just to have a flat rectangle of brick to plop a patio table onto. Instead, add at least a few plants around the sides. Know how big the plants will get before you add them, and how much pruning they'll need to stay that size. Decide whether you want your patio plants politely contained in pots, neatly trimmed to the edges of your patio, or draping gracefully over the edges to soften the lines. Don't forget that you can add height and enclosure with plants, either by planting a taller plant or by training a climber up an arbor or gazebo. Consider when planting trees whether the trees will drop flowers, leaves, or berries.
Consider the usage of the space when furnishing your patio. If it is used as a private outdoor space for you and your family, perhaps a few chairs, ottomans and side tables will do the trick. However, if you image lavish garden parties and elegant patio affairs, large-scale seating as well as table surfaces would be best. Picking a versatile seating piece, such as a sectional sofa, you can accommodate different numbers of people as well as creating a dynamic space for people to circulate within.