The latest trends and key components of good patio design

Not so many years back, the word ‘patio’ would’ve probably made people think of a small square slab of concrete or pavers on which you placed a rusty looking BBQ and a few discoloured PVC chairs. Oh how times change…

Over the last decade, at Lazy Susan we’ve seen first hand how British homeowners have started to embrace the concept of ‘outdoor living’ and the patio has become synonymous with the creation of stylish outdoor spaces that flow with the home.

We might not have taken the ‘outdoor room’ concept as far as the American’s who in many states such as California have the climate to furnish their outdoor spaces with fully functioning outdoor kitchens, but we have seen significant growth in the sales of fire pits, stylish water features and garden furniture that would look equally at home in an your living room.

Catherine 6 Seater Oval Garden Table

This is why when thinking about your outdoor space, we are encouraging our customers to use some of the key components of good interior design, especially if you want to ‘bring the indoors outside’ as they say in the trade.

With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at some of latest trends in patio design that many people will be thinking about for spring/summer 2012.

But before all that… The first thing you need to be thinking about is where you can get those good patio design ideas so you can choose how you want it to look? You might see patio designs on TV, in the stylish garden/home design magazines or get your ideas from a gardening show such as Chelsea.

Many patio’s are simply designed and oriented to fit with the landscape, they can take on any shape you want and be built with various materials, such as concrete, pavers, natural stone, tiles, bricks or gravel.

Once you’ve decided to build a patio and established where you would like it so be, the main design considerations you need to be thinking about are:

  • Space
    The space you have available in your garden will determine the size of your patio. And an old rule of thumb called for about 60 square feet of space per person.
  • Shape
    Do you want a round square, rectangle or oval patio?
  • Drainage
    Will you be working with an existing run-off or do you need to identify the best place to build one?
  • Grading
    This is where you ensure a level patio by leveling out both the dirt and gravel and sand underlay before you start the process of laying the stones.
  • Privacy
    Do you want to install walls, screening or enclosures in order to turn a basic patio into an ‘outdoor room’?

Current popular patio designs range from the manicured minimal contemporary to the wildly eccentric country cottage/French style. If its modern you want then think about steel or aluminum accents, straight lines and simple furniture, if its the more traditional country style you like, then accent your garden with ferns, outdoor candles and colourful planting.

And regardless of what style you go for, never  be afraid to make use of outdoor lighting, water features, hardscape materials, garden decor, planting and trees/shrubs to maximum advantage. Wherever you find your inspiration, whatever materials you select or garden furniture (ahem, Lazy Susan) you purchase, your patio will be perfect if it’s designed with you and your family in the front of your mind. From a trend point of view, the following is an overview of what’s popular in the UK in 2011/12:

  • Patio Materials
    Modern patio design has evolved to incorporate a massive range of materials, from natural to synthetic. However, we are seeing more and more British homeowners choosing to pay that little bit more and construct their patio’s from natural stones such as slate, flagstone or fieldstone. Many are still using bricks, pebbles, gravel and not forgetting concrete pavers, but are now able to choose from the impressive variety of colours, sizes,  staining and stamping techniques that are now readily available.
  • Patio Shape
    Along with the trend towards more natural (or natural-looking at least) materials, many patio designs are now making significantly greater use of organic, gently curved shapes, rather than the square angular designs of a decade or so back. This allows the patio to flow and fit better with the rest of your garden and other landscape elements, giving the whole garden a more natural look and feel. Even those who choose to use square concrete pavers are frequently leaving gaps between pavers—and filling these gaps with gravel, grass or a moss groundcover, to create a more naturalistic look overall.
  • Patio Location
    One of the biggest developments in modern patio design that Lazy Susan keeps coming across more and more in the UK is that you are no longer limited to just the space right outside your back door, and many patio designers are now creating ‘hidden’ patios – basically a small patio that is tucked into garden corners or other shady parts of your garden that in the past might of been where you popped a garden shed. These patios are designed with privacy in mind, and are often surrounded by lush planting and screened from view of the house and your neighbours.
  • Patio Shelter
    As we look to spend as much time outdoors as the British weather will allow, many patio designs have started to incorporate more shelter than ever before. Pergolas, arbors and retractable awnings are becoming more common. Some pergolas are now constructed with trellis walls for even more privacy and protection from the elements. More portable forms of shelter can range from simple umbrellas, to stylish canopies, summer houses and even full-scale cabana style thatched huts.
  • Garden Furniture and Patio Decor
    Long gone (thank god) are the days of plastic or steel-frame patio furniture, outdoor sofa style sets such as Lazy Susan’s Faith range and fit for purpose materials such as teak, cast aluminium or synthetic wicker have gained widespread popularity in recent years. Along with the trend towards living-room styled garden furniture, outdoor fireplaces or fire pits, modern water features, outdoor rugs, stylish BBQ grills and containers will help you achieve the outdoor living look.

If Lazy Susan could give you a few final pieces of advice when it comes to designing/planning a new patio it would be that its vital to set a budget before you start shopping.

Since you’re essentially creating a whole new living area outdoors, you may feel it’s worth spending a bit more to get quality items that will last past a few seasons, so just remember, you don’t have to buy everything at once.

You can always add pieces over time and that way you get the quality without breaking the budget. Also, try and choose a style from the start, before you move your design from paper to the garden. Decide what tone you’d like to set and choose your colours and accessories etc accordingly. Look around your garden for inspiration.

Accessories like outdoor rugs or cushions, a carefully planned planting scheme, these are the things that will help you create the area’s overall style. Having side tables alongside your chairs can also help to bring the comfort of indoors outside too.

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