Tips for Making the Most of Patio Season

Tips for Making the Most of Patio Season
  • Opening Intro -

    No two ways around it, we're in the twilight of summer.

    As the days shorten and brisk autumn breezes ready for their sultry assault, I'm pretending cardigans and woolen socks aren't just around the corner.

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I’ve spent many a night this year watching salmon-hued sunsets from my patio, sipping mint juleps out of stainless steel martini glasses (how positively ‘Antebellum South’). I don’t want to give this up – my wife and I have been plotting to turn our modest veranda into a year-round hangout spot.

patio1

Corrugated plastic, repurposed wood and weathered columns? I’m in.
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I have to be honest, we’re currently still in the “planning/arguing/coffee table books” phase of this revamp. We’ve come across so many inspiring designs; I thought I’d share a few ideas and tips for turning a summer porch into something more multipurpose.

patio2

You know what I see? A blank canvas.
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Where you start depends on what you’re working with – an uncovered patio, a semi-enclosed sunroom, a patch of scraggly grass. For argument’s sake, let’s assume we’re starting with the absolute bare bones. It all comes down to design and décor – let’s take a look…

Design

patio3

Urban dweller? You needn’t have acreage for a cozy patio.
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Okay, the basics – if you live somewhere with the full range of seasons, you’re going to need something that resembles a roof and walls. The bulk of Floridians, Californians and Texans have their own rules, but if six feet of snow, six months of the year is something you’re accustomed to…well, what you need is a backyard yurt, not a patio.

patio4

“Pull up a chair, guys!”
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Building an entirely new backyard structure isn’t exactly what I have in mind. Breaking out the lumber and panel glass would probably be ideal, but to be honest, at the moment I’m not really looking for ‘ideal’. I’m looking for ‘functional’.

patio5

I’m digging all the different textures…
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Basically, all I need is the ability to batten down the hatches when the weather gets especially wily. And a cozy chair to drink my juleps in, of course. A latticed roof covering or a simple structure of rafters are the more DIY options, though people certainly purchase entire gazebos. Frankly, I think I’d like a couple “real” doors, but one step at a time here…

patio6

I believe this is what they call a “pop of color”.
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If you’re hoping to create a little privacy, look for sturdy outdoor curtains. With curtains, you can even separate your area into several smaller nooks. A burly but brightly-colored awning provides solace from the elements. To combat pesky insects or a torrent of fall leaves, consider installing screen walls.

Décor

patio7

There’s a word for what I’m feeling…what is it? Oh, yeah – jealousy.
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If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor fireplace…good for you! For the rest of us, building a simple and safely contained fire pit is actually easier than it sounds. Stand-alone heaters, like they might have on bar and restaurant patios, can provide more warmth when the winter weather nips at your heels.

patio8

The perfect spot for a cup of coffee…
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Plants in attractive pots pretty much quadruple the ‘cozy’ factor in any room, but if we’re talking outdoors, it helps to lean towards the robust and resilient succulents (snake plants, jade, aloe vera) and cacti plants. Any type of evergreen would also be a good choice.

We’re looking for furniture than can withstand all manner of volatile weather – blizzards, merciless sun, pounding rain. Naturally, it all depends on where you live. (We wish we had to deal with the issue of salty ocean spray, but alas, we’re unfortunately landlocked.)

patio9

This one is inviting without being intimidating.
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Lanterns. Xmas lights Don’t forget about good ol’ candles – though, this is for you and my wife’s benefit here; I’m deathly afraid of candles and/or burning the house down. Naturally, I’m all about the outdoor bar.

patio10

While I can appreciate it when people go all-out, I would call this ‘quaint’, but not with a bottle of Knob Creek in the picture…
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For the record, I’ve also modified my mint julep recipe for winter – hot mint tea, honey and an oaky bourbon. My wife says shes tired of dickering over everything from flooring to furnishings. It’s probably time to get our hands dirty – and of course, I’ll make sure to take lots of pictures.

Jonathon Ensor, a freelance blogger and devoted dog-dad, is a fan of more than just mint juleps and patio renovations. He also likes hot toddies and DIY decks.

Image Credit: Don’t be ridiculous. This is not my view, nor my patio.

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Krayton M Davis

Executive Manager: LetsRenovate Team