By Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch, MBA
Patio season is a big deal in Shreveport. Your patio should be a big deal, too.
If your deck or patio is too small for how you’d like to use it, don’t squeeze into it again this year. Enlarge it.
It’s possible to add on to an existing patio so it’s roomier and more functional. Or, you might want to tear the small, existing patio out so you can start fresh.
Either way, think big. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you talk to your remodeler about creating an outdoor room behind your house.
- Think about your deck or patio as a sort of addition to your house. Ask your builder for a design that will mimic what you have inside: a dining room, kitchen and living room. That translates outdoors into a roomy cooking/grilling area, space for a big table where everyone can eat and a section for a comfy couch and chairs where friends can hang out to watch the game or lunge around and talk well into the evening.
- Accessorize the grilling area. Consider adding the comforts of a kitchen so you don’t have to run into the house so often as you cook outdoors. Incorporate stainless steel cabinets, a weather-safe refrigerator and a spacious, granite countertop for food prep. Consider building a large grill into the deck instead of relying on a portable version, which might be smaller and less impressive.
- Embrace curves. Decks and patios don’t have to be flat, single-surface rectangles. Ask your designer to create a patio floor that’s curved, and has multiple levels, staircases, built-in seats and railings.
- Entertainment factor. If you want to use your patio for entertaining, build a fire pit into the middle or install a hot tub. Both are party favorites. A tip: Leave lots of space around either feature. A 7-by-7-foot spa, for example, will take up at least a 10-by-10-foot space once you factor in the room you need for a railing, a privacy screen or a path for bathers and maintenance technicians to walk around it.
- Make your space your own. Don’t be shy about mixing and matching materials and designs for a patio that really stands out. Combine stone with concrete pavers or wood composites for the patio floor. Choose wood, composites, faux stone or metal for accents like railings, stairways, seating and columns.
- Add a roof. Summer days outdoors are far more comfortable on a covered patio than on one that’s exposed to the sun and rain. A metal roof can make music out of raindrops, while a shingled roof can match the roof of your house, making the patio look like it was part of the original structure. Too much? A pergola, awning or canopy will keep the weather at bay. A tip: Choose a shade structure that is as low-maintenance as the deck or patio itself.
- Build in proportion to the house. A deck whose floor space is almost as large as the home’s is too big. Likewise, you won’t get much use out of a little patch of a patio on the back of a spacious house.
- Consider a two-story deck. The bottom tier can be a ground-level, stone patio. Over top, a wood or wood composite deck with railings right off the master bedroom will get a lot of use on weekend mornings.
- Choose low-maintenance materials. If you like a stone patio floor, seal it to fight off stains. If you’ve always wanted a wood deck, consider low-maintenance composite materials that never need painting or staining, and are easy to clean.
- Don’t skimp on lighting. Especially if you want to use your outdoor “room” after dark, install subtle lighting on railings, around the perimeter of the patio, on steps and in the landscaping. A lighted deck will allow the cook to see what he or she is creating, prevent guests from tripping in the dark and keep the party going until well after sundown.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, is the president of Re-Bath in Shreveport. You can contact him at 318-216-4525 or by visiting www.rebath.com/location/shreveport.