Are you thinking about getting a patio installed at your home? In this article, I will address the most important things to consider before designing your patio.
It is important to carefully look at three integrated aspects of your project. Form, Function and Scope. Form refers to the aesthetic appearance, feel and overall atmosphere of your outdoor living space. Function refers to what you plan to use your patio for. Scope refers to the budget that you are working with.
Although most people want to talk about form first, we really can’t start there. The very first thing to clearly identify is what function you would like your patio or outdoor living area to have. Determining function will give you more clear parameters for the form of your patio. For instance, if you are planning to have frequent parties of 20+ people out on your patio, you will need an appropriate amount of square footage to accommodate that. If you want to gather around a fire with a few friends on a regular basis, it would be a good idea to look at a built in fire pit with a seat wall. However, if you only plan to have fires on rare occasion, you might want to look at creating a space where a portable fire pit could be placed when desired. If you want to entertain and cook outside while hanging out with family or guests, you might want to look into a built in grill island or even a full outdoor kitchen. Of course, an outdoor kitchen is going to cost more than a grill island and a lot more than a mobile grill. This brings us to the next topic of budget.
Even though you might not have a clear idea what your budget is and probably don’t really want to think about money more than you have to, it is important to determine what your budget is and how much different patio features cost in order to design the right patio for you. If you really want to cook outside with family and friends but have a budget of $10,000, you should consider a mobile grill. If your budget is $20,000 - $25,000 you might want to look at a built in grill island and maybe a little built in fridge. If you have a higher budget, you could consider a full outdoor kitchen possibly under a pergola or gazebo. If you want to have a fire pit area that 8 people can sit around comfortably and have a $5,000 budget, you will most likely be looking at a built in fire pit with an appropriate amount of patio around it. If your budget is $10,000, you could get a built in fire pit with patio and a seat wall and pillars. With a larger budget, you could consider lighting and a full seat with a back. These costs are rough and many factors including site conditions, materials, specific contractor and installation process to name a few, play into the cost of every project. The purpose of the costs above is just to give you a rough ballpark and to make the point that your budget is going to play a huge factor in the design of your outdoor living area.
Lastly we get to talk about the form of your patio. I will discuss form in more detail in a future blog post but for now we will quickly go over some key aspects of form. As I discussed earlier, some aspects of form are byproducts of function and budget but there is a lot more to consider. You should ask yourself a lot of questions when selecting the shape, material and overall style of your outside living area or patio. Although pinterest and other inspiration sources can be great for getting your creative design ideas flowing, you have to consider your unique situation and personal tastes and preferences. Do you like clean lines and geometric shapes? Are you drawn to more organic shapes? Sometimes it’s good to think about what you like inside your house. If you prefer open format in your home with an island in your kitchen, you will likely want one large patio area with differentiated spaces through accent strips or perhaps a step down. If you prefer a galley kitchen and more clearly delineated spaces in your home, you might want to have a multi level patio with seat walls, plant/tree rows or other barriers dividing areas to create more intimate spaces. Of course, your landscape designer will be able to help you design the perfect patio for your unique situation.