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Design Tips for Patio Living

Summertime Patio 1

After a long, harsh winter, we are all desperate to get outside and enjoy some sunshine and relaxation. The tiniest deck can become a welcoming retreat where friends love to gather and relax together with a cool drink.

And when it comes to drinks, don’t forget the kids. While the adults are sipping on their elegant cocktails, don’t assign the kids to a simple uninteresting lemonade. Ply them with something a little elegant too so that thy can feel part of the fun.

The mother of all mocktails is the Shirley Temple, The mix first appeared in the early 1930s in honor of Shirley Temple herself . It’s an easy mixture of carbonated lime soda, and a little Grenadine, a pomegranate flavored syrup that lends a lovely warm pink color to any drink and adds a distinct taste of tart sweetness. The lime soda bubbles through the pomegranate flavor and it is all becomes wildly delicious. Top the glass with a couple of maraschino cherry for dramatic effect and you will have a bunch of  happy children at your next deck party!

What features should you add to a deck to make it as inviting and welcoming as possible? Let’s examine five important elements.


Make it durable, attractive and comfortable. That does not necessarily translate to expensive although you can go as lavish as your client’s budget and taste will allow. Include a table and chairs for dining in the mix. If the dining chairs are comfortable enough to do double duty for relaxing in as well, so much the better. We are all for ,”double duty” in decorating!

So. A patio table, some dining chairs and a couple of extra chairs or a sofa that will allow for lounging and relaxation.


Cushions - Pop of Color

Add a cheap pop of color with cushions. If you keep the color of the main pieces of furniture relatively monochromatic, you can have fun with your cushions. Choose pieces that are covered in outdoor fabric and give them an occasional spray with a waterproof protection to guard against stains and water damage. That way, you won’t have to be all precious and rush them under cover every single time it looks like rain.


A storage box is a great addition to a deck. If it does triple duty as a bench for extra seating and provides a boundary to the deck too, well, so much the better.


If you are a city dweller, you may not be able to screen for noise from your neighbors. You can, however, provide visual privacy, shade and interest to your outdoor space with a screen. Go classic with a trellis that becomes a living wall of growing plants. Or keep it sleek and modern by installing some sheets of colored acrylic, simple bamboo poles or a plain wood backing screen on which you can hang a couple of big mirrors that will visually enlarge the size of the deck and garden with terrific effect.


Patio - Touch of Shade

A shady area is important on a deck.  If you have a magnificent shade tree that helpfully dips its branches over the deck, so much the better. If not, install a shade umbrella. Invest a little more and choose one that has a good, solid, mechanism so that the umbrella unfurls easily and smoothly. An umbrella with a feature that allows your client to rotate it to, “follow the sun” is also a great idea.

There are lots of other ways to provide much needed shade.  Think about adding a retractable awning, or installing a simple canvas canopy. Canvas filters the light beautifully. A trellis covering with vines trained over it is amazingly effective. A pergola will provide delightful, dappled shade.

Once you have the basics covered, you can have lots of fun with additional features like lighting, perhaps a water feature, and some cute accessories. More on those next time.

If you have done an unusual or attractive feature for a deck, let us hear about it! Add your comment below.