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Making the Most of Your Outdoor Patio
by Christina Gaona // onespecialty.com

Well-designed outdoor living areas and kitchens are the newest trend in designing
exterior residential spaces as more homeowners seek to make their home and
outdoor environment suit a casual lifestyle. Outdoor living areas that are located
close to the home seamlessly integrate the functionality of an interior living space
with the outdoor environment. By assessing the size of your space and determining
your desired functionality, homeowners can create truly personalized and well
styled outdoor patio areas.

The key to designing your dream outdoor living area is to first plan out your imagined
or existing patio space. To create the best patio design, homeowners must consider
these four factors: the size of your space, proximity to the home, existing shade,
and desired function.
1) Size-Up the Space
The most challenging aspect of hardscape design is determining how too design
a patio that can be accommodated by the existing exterior space. Homeowners
must consider the size of their space so that the patio does not overwhelm the
space but they should also consider what size patio allows for their intended
functionality for the space. A large, open, outdoor living area or a combination
of several smaller, multi-functional ‘outdoor rooms,’ may best-suit a large exterior
space. For smaller exterior spaces, a quaint patio with a decorative feature may
be ideal.
2) House Proximity
Homeowners can asses a patio’s proximity to the house to create destination spots in
their backyard. Homeowners can draw attention to the best views of the backyard
by directing attention away from the home with a destination patio that brings people
away from the house. In favor of oversized patios located adjacent to the home, a
patio can also be designed to create several smaller ‘outdoor rooms.’ With a simple
curved-designed patio or other custom patio design, pockets for different activities
can accommodate the natural propensity of people to break up into smaller groups
and talk during a party. With this kind of multi-dimensional design, spaces for
cooking, dining, and lounging can be created in one backyard.
Hocker’s interest in learning about a site’s former life and his strong architectural sense
render his approach to design a truly dynamic process and his commitment to native
plant material produces thought-provoking designs that are meant to thrive. Hocker
also emphasizes the importance of combining textures of green-colored plant
material with colors and textures of modern architectural elements – those that
exhibit a high sense of art and architecture.
3) Shade Over Sunshine
Determining a patio’s intended location by actual sun and shade exposure,
homeowners can assure a comfortable living space. North-facing areas likely
receive the most shade and often make the perfect place for an outdoor patio.
If you home is unlikely to receive shade naturally from mature trees or your home,
consider incorporating a modern arbor or traditional pergola with ivy to create a
dense shade-cover over your outdoor living area.
4) Outdoor Function: Recreation or Relaxation?
By thinking about how you want to use your outdoor patio, homeowners can
create a truly customized exterior space. Consider recreational functions such
as entertaining, dining, cooking, and relaxing. Those who enjoy hosting parties
may consider including a space for a complete outdoor kitchen (with barbeque
grill, sinks, and ample counter space) and several areas for seating; include an
area for a brick pizza oven or Big Green Egg smoker. If you want your backyard
to be a haven for relaxation, consider including a lounge area with comfortable
patio furniture and a fire pit or pondless water feature.
Your Patio Surface
Patios have always been (and will always be) a popular choice among homeowners
because of the versatility of a patio space. In the past, many homeowners were limited
to patios made of gray rectangular blocks of pressed concrete; however, styled patios
that take advantage of different combinations of colors, textures, and materials, have
become increasingly popular.

For styling, consider which patio surface material will best compliment your existing home.
An easy way for homeowners to alter the visual aesthetic of their outdoor area, create
new spaces for relaxation and entertainment, conserve water, and increase the property
value of their home, is to install a new custom outdoor patio or refresh an existing patio
with one of many available patio surface materials.

Natural Stone patios are particularly attractive as they tend to combine a number of
complimentary colors in a seemingly random pattern. Flagstone is sold in 'broken' pieces
that are cut into unspecified widths and lengths. The thickness of flagstone tends to be
variable, and pieces may have to be broken and trimmed during the installation process.

Other types of chopped stone like limestones, sandstones, and cobblestone can also
be used to create unique surface patterns.

Note: The irregular thickness of natural stone usually makes the installation process of
natural stone patios particularly challenging and they usually require professional
article courtesy of onespecialty.com

Decorative Concrete patios like stained and stamped concrete patios are
popular among homeowners who want a unique looking patio but who
have a smaller budget for material. After installation, these materials are
protected with a sealer to withstand weather and extended use.

One option for decorative concrete is stamped concrete in which a specific
pattern has been 'stamped' into a concrete slab. Patterns like brick,
cobblestone, and flagstone are available and the concrete can be
colored to create a realistic rendering of the desired stone, flagstone,
or brick pattern.

Another option available to homeowners is stained concrete which involves
a process in which a concrete slab is stained with a combination of blended
acid stain-colors to create a truly one-of-a-kind patio surface. These patios
can have salt added to create a rugged look or they can be scored to create
freehand stone or geometric patterns in the concrete. Scored patterns with
alternating color combinations are exceptionally visually appealing.

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