Patios are a great way to create more space to live and spend time in, without really expanding your house. They are super versatile, from relaxing to family dinner or ever a party with friends!
But if you want to make the most out of it, you will have to carefully plan ahead!
First, I would think about what you want to do in your patio. How are you going to spend most of your time there? Relaxing? Dining? Partying? Barbecueing?
Whatever the outcome, you have to keep it in mind at all times. Yes, a firepit may sound like a good idea, unless you want to party – don’t want someone fall into it when they are drunk!
So, first: create a short list of activities.
Like: 1. Dining, 2. Barbecue
Don’t list everything, just the most important activities.
Next, what do you need?
For dining, you will need a table and chairs. For barbecue, you’ll need those, too. But also a grill or an outdoor kitchen. You might want to have some kind of sun screen, in case it’s too sunny or hot. A water tab may be a good idea, too.
Collect all of these in a list.
Now start designing!
Draw a sketch of your backyard (or frontyard, whereever the patio goes), including some of your house.
Protip: instead of just drawing on your sketch, cut out little tables, chairs or whatever and place them on the sketch. You can try out different ideas a lot easier this way!
First, the size. Once you laid out the furniture and other elements you want to have, look over them again with people in mind. Where will they walk? Stand? Is there enough room?
Especially if you plan to have people over for social events, dinner parties, or whatever, you need lots of space. Generally, it’s better to build patios too big than too small.
Also, think about where people will be walking from and to it, to the table, to the grill,… Are there any obstacles? There should be a clear path, or it will feel uncomfortable and annoying.
Next, form. If you build your patio close to your house, a rectangular form is a popular choice. If it’s further from your house, a round shape looks a lot more natural, and provides a clear focal point in the middle.
Protip: always leave a little space between the patio and the house. Place some plants there, or at least small, about fist-sized, stones. It will make the patio feel more open and less cramped to the house. Especially with plants, like little shrubs, it will more naturally sit next to the house.
Don’t forget: Lighting. You will spend time in your patio in the evening, or even at night. Think of barbecue or parties with friends. Read this for more tips on lighting for your yard, most of these apply just as well for patios!
For furniture, plan social activities ahead. Again, more is better here. Better have an extra chair than missing one. Having different kinds of furniture gives you more options how you want to spend your time outside. If you only have a dinner table, you can’t really have a sunbath. Bonus points if you find and use multi-purpose furniture!
Patio enclosures are a great way to make the space feel more confined and private. If you use small, knee-high walls or shrubs, it won’t feel cramped, though. Using natural seperation, like plants, or a wall that looks like the patio floor, helps. You can even add outdoor curtains or a shade canopy for more protection and privacy.
If you really want to limit your patio a bit, surrounding one area with a wall can make that part feel extra safe and cozy. Even better, if the wall feel friendly with vines or plants, or if it’s an all-natural hedge.