Tuesday July 15, 2014
'Tis the season to be outside! Summer has officially begun, and by now you've probably broken out the furniture and cleaned off the patio pavers. Over the years, landscape design has come to include patios that are a true extension of the home. Cooking outside on the grill has evolved into full outdoor kitchen installations; homeowners are now outfitting their patios with all of the modern day conveniences of indoor kitchens. Grills with side burners, concrete and stone counter tops, and sinks and refrigerators, have allowed hosts to spend more time with their guests and have stopped the exhausting "BBQ food relay".
Like beautiful hardwood flooring indoors, your patio pavers will set the stage for your outdoor living space. When you are working with a larger outdoor area they'll need to be visually softened to make the space(s) welcoming. Depending on the location of your patio, you'll want to ensure some sense of privacy to avoid feeling on display. Even in remote locations, patios without some kind of bordering element can feel a little exposed. Retaining walls, tall privacy hedges, and fencing can all be used to partially enclose patios and help create more intimate settings.
Just as when furnishing or decorating an interior space, it's all about scale. Allow enough room for chairs to be pulled out around tables and for guests to circulate between the "rooms". Furnishings should not appear to float, and the visual weight should be evenly distributed.
Take a tip from vacation resorts (with their expansive patios) and incorporate "destinations" into your landscape design. Consider multiple, smaller patios that are tied together with garden paths.
Lounge chairs for relaxing poolside, tables for dining al fresco, conversational seating, and a bar area are all places that encourage guests to mingle, or allow family members to enjoy some privacy. Retaining walls can be used to correct sloping property, divide the spaces, or can be made to provide extra seating.
Great example of how having destinations within a large area breaks up expansive areas.
Made in the Shade
Even sun lovers need a shady spot or two, and larger patios will require even more shaded areas. Of course, patio umbrellas are always in style, but consider incorporating one or more of these into your landscape design:
- Awnings: These commonly project from the home and can either be permanent or retractable and there are lots of fabric colors and patterns to choose from.
- Pergolas: These permanent structures can be left as is or they can be covered in fabric or vines. Pergolas fit well in Mediterranean settings.
- Shade Sails: Used in commercial settings for years, these canopies work nicely with modern architecture, and colors can be ordered to match any color scheme.
- Gazebos: Can be either permanent or semi-permanent. They come in a variety of color and styles and are often found in Country settings.
Consult a Pro
As with any extensive home improvement project, larger landscape design projects may be one undertaking that is best left to a professional. And with such a large area to decorate, they'll be plenty of opportunity to stretch your DIY wings.