Ideas for Patio Areas

Updated February 21, 2017

Outdoor leisure living is a common trend among homeowners. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association in 2009, the leisure lifestyle industry is a £4.0 billion business. By adding comfortable design settings for relaxation and entertaining, living space can be extended beyond a home's four walls. Add to the fact that portable heaters can extend outdoor living into a three season retreat, patio design can be well worth the effort and cost.

Design Construction

Think about the usage of your patio areas. Decide on a budget, what you can do on your own and what will require professional help.

Think about location, as most patios are adjacent to the home, outside a family room or kitchen area. Other homeowners prefer quiet garden areas, reached by meandering paths or stone walkways. Pool area patios serve many purposes, from sunbathing to entertaining and grilling.

Patio surfaces can range from simple mulched or pea stone areas, to poured concrete, patio blocks, tile, brick, stone pavers or even wood planks. Usage, preference and budget will dictate which you choose.

Pergolas, gazebos, arbors, sail shades and trellises can all be incorporated into you patio design. Surround sound systems, bar areas, fireplaces and fire pits are great additions. Built in seating and benches can create and define intimate areas and function. Plan for utilities such as electricity for lighting and appliance; water for outdoor sinks and gas for outdoor kitchens will be necessary based on design.

Outdoor Kitchens

If you entertain, enjoy cooking and meals outdoors, an outdoor kitchen is a smart addition to your outdoor space. Adding a kitchen can be as simple as a charcoal or gas grill area, to a full-blown kitchen island with a refrigerator, warming oven, sink and hob. There's no limit to the amenities possible.

Conversation/Relaxation areas

The size of your patio area will determine the type of seating and grouping. Large patios can provide areas for sunbathing and larger chaise longues.

Settee, chairs and side tables can be arranged into a conversation grouping, under a pergola, small ornamental shade tree or in a gazebo. A garden bench swing can add a whimsical accent under an arbor or in a gazebo.

When it comes to dining sets there are varied styles found in plastic, iron, aluminium and wood which can add a dramatic element to your patio dining. Weather-proof cushions and pillows are available in all textures, colours and patterns to provide an inviting enticement to sit and relax.

Hot Tub and Bars

Nothing beats a relaxing hot soak beneath stars. Portable hot tubs set upon a patio or sunken in wooden decking create a relaxing oasis. Positioned near a fire pit with surround sound stereo and you'll have a quiet romantic setting for two or an inviting activity for friends and family.

Outdoor bars can run from portable units, to built-ins with features such as sinks and refrigerators.

Accents and Lighting

Depending upon your decorating tastes, there are many design to choose from. Contemporary designs --crisp white cushions and clean lines-to country living with rustic furnishings, creative ideas are limitless.

Tiki torch lighting add a tropical feel, while brass or copper candle lanterns provide a warm, homelike ambience. Various designs in electric or gas lamp posts can be installed: strands of mini lights attached to shrubbery or along gazebo and pergola ceilings or a chandelier lit cabaña.

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About the Author

A 35-year child care specialist, Laurie Carpenter’s first writing involved scripts for a national award-winning cable program on child care issues. From cradle to grave, she worked for a historical cemetery, handling public relations and historical pieces for newspaper publication. Working towards her master’s degree in education, Carpenter also completed a certificate of journalism program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.