15 Patio Design Tips
Put Pattern to Work
In landscapes that include lots of different plant types and textures, too much additional pattern can be overwhelming. Small doses are a good way to provide visual relief as well as interesting contrast to furniture. This patio set's solid-red seating cushions are paired with red-and-white pattern accent pillows for a pop of style.
Move the Air Around You
Patios that are shielded from the elements can also, unfortunately, be shielded from cooling summertime breezes. If you have a structure overhead--either a real roof or a pergola--you may be able to include a ceiling fan, which can help drop the temperature up to 10 degrees. Outfit your ceiling fan with a light and you'll have a reliable source of overhead illumination, too.
If you have limited backyard space, you may want to screen your seating area from your neighbors. There are a variety of visually pleasing ways to do that, including attractive fencing, tall trees (which also supply shade), shrubs, or a hedgerow.
Exterior lighting has many functions--ensuring safety along walkways, offering ambience as natural light fades--and should be an integral part of any patio design. A pendant fixture above this table can cast light on diners lingering after the sun has set.
Integrate a Patio with the Landscape
A paved or bricked patio space that ends abruptly will feel out of place with a larger landscape around it. A better solution is to use materials to gradually transition -- and reinforce a connection -- between the two. Here, irregularly shaped pavers provide a pathway from patio to lawn, and mulch and containers segue neatly into planted areas.
Soften the Edges
Tall trellises are an excellent way to establish gentle borders around a patio; they also provide a place to encourage flowering vines to reach high--just make sure to pick a vine that suits the area's light conditions. A fragrant vine can cast a sweet scent to a passerby. For a more defined, denser border, place the trellis's slats closer together.
Act with Architecture
A deck that's created with materials that are in polar opposition to a house will look out of place indeed. Use your home's architecture for cues as to color and type of construction. Here, stucco walls supply the neutral base, while stonework adds welcome visual complexity to the intimate fireplace area.
Mix up Materials
Small shifts in color or material supply welcoming visual interest underfoot on a patio. Consider a border, or use different sizes of stones to delineate seating or eating areas like this red brick helps designate the dining area and warms up the blue flagstones.
Utilize the Hardscape
A stone floor may gently transition to a stone border surrounding your patio--but why not design and build it at a height that makes sense for seating, too? The short wall adjacent to the fireplace supplies an impromptu spot for guests to sit a spell.
Rethink the Walls
Vertical gardens aren't new, but living walls have gained newfound popularity. If you don't want to tend a garden on a wall, you can use an espaliered tree to soften a patio's border.
Fixate on a Front Yard View
Front yards are an unusual spot to include a patio, but why not use the space to your advantage. With a few design tricks, they can be places for you to engage with your neighbors while also creating a little privacy. Use mid-height containers to establish a border as well as a small, planted bed to gently transition between lawn and hardscape.
Decorative elements certainly have a home on a patio, particularly if they're either outdoor-safe or protected from the elements. If your style is a bit eclectic, or favors a theme like this woodsy one, let the decorating scheme reflect that, with sculpture and centerpieces.
Vary the Purpose
A one-use patio is far too limiting for most families. Instead, think about how to rearrange your furniture to maximize use. Here, a bar-height table is a gathering/prep/serving area, while a smaller dining spot allows for sit-down eating, too.
Use a Plant's Texture
In the absence of a change-up of fabrics or hardscape, plants can be a welcome way to add living décor to a patio space. Intermix grasses and foliage-focused plants for variety in both hue and style.
Add a Water Feature
Even a small fountain or birdbath lends a soothing sound or draws birds and butterflies. Petite water features can also act as a charming focal point, like this birdbath centered in a small circular brick patio.