It is finally warm enough for us to entertain outside and enjoy our outdoor spaces. Each year when I set up my patio, I feel that I want to replace or reinvent some of the pieces I own. I haven’t yet had any free time to start, but this year I have decided to make some big changes. I don’t have my plan completely laid out yet, but I’m taking notes and beginning this project like I would with any other room in my home.
I have a beautiful metal gazebo that fits perfectly on my patio. I’ve been hauling that thing in and out of my shed for the last 3 or 4 years, setting it up with step stools and a balancing act, and decorating it to be not only functional, but pretty and cozy. Then in the fall, I take it back down, again looking like I’m performing a circus act all the while.
Although it looks beautiful when it’s constructed, complete with mosquito netting, lights strung inside, and planters holding colorful annuals, we hardly use it. I tried to make it a space where my family would hang out on beautiful summer nights, enjoying the sounds of nature without having to worry about mosquitoes, but to no avail. Like I always say, if there is a space in (or out) of your home that you don’t use, it’s wasted space. Time for a change.
First things first
Like I would with any room inside my house, I first have to determine how I need the patio to function. I know that we’ll keep the grill and fire pit there. The fire pit is a new addition since last year, so my husband does spend more time out there now. We sometimes eat on the patio, and if we have visitors, we’ll sit out if it’s not too hot or cold. So now I know that we will need at least some portion of the patio that is not enclosed (for the fire pit and grill) and would still like to have a covered area to sit because there is no shade.
Thinking about my intended function for this space, I’ll make a sketch of the patio and place the grill and fire pit first. Because of the importance of the placement of these two big items (because of the fire hazard), the layout of the remaining pieces will revolve around them. With those pieces taken care of, I’ll determine where it makes sense to place a table and chairs. I’m also thinking about having a small, separate seating/conversation area, and probably a table near the grill for food preparation. I may need to come up with two or three different layouts, based on different functions or needs, to see what may work best.
I will have to take inventory of the pieces I already own. I also like to have measurements for each piece. Once I come up with a layout, I will see which of my existing pieces may work, what may not work, what I may be able to repurpose or what may need to be purchased. I will also look around in my garage, shed, in my house, and at yard sales if I am looking for any other specific pieces.
Once I know what my layout will look like and I have the furnishings that I need, I can start accessorizing. This is the fun part. Flowers, tablecloth, outdoor carpet and lighting are some of the accessories that can help pull the design together.
Whether you are decorating inside or outside, the basic principles are the same. Determining the intended function of the space is the foremost decision to be made. Once you know what you expect from a space, the planning becomes easier.