Last month we kicked things off by looking at how to start the thought process of designing your own patio for summer 2016. I’m not saying you should build it, unless of course you’ve got the skill set, but you’re wasting your time calling in a landscape or building firm if you’ve not got a clear idea of what you want? From shape to building materials, we took a closer look at a few of the basics to get the old grey matter thinking about the planning process.
This month I wanted to follow up our Planning a new patio for 2016 article and try to take things a step further. Looking at how you could actually go about designing your own patio. Or at the very least getting some ideas down on paper that’ll help you to get the professionals on the same page as you. After all the patio needs to ‘work’ for you and your family, as well as enhancing the outside of your home.
The process for designing your own patio is not that difficult, you just need to answer a few basic questions, do a little research, and get those ideas down on paper!
How will you use the patio space?
The first step in designing your own patio is to evaluate the functionality of the new space and how you will actually use it. If its replacing an existing patio then you might want to simply replicate what you currently have or maybe just tweak it a little to improve. However, if this is a brand new patio, then you need to think about how you’ll use this new space?
The size of the patio will primarily depend on the size of your garden, but how you plan to use the patio will also play a big part. If it’ll be just used by two people, then you don’t need a large 12m² paved area. However, if family BBQ’s are your thing, then that 12m² space might be perfect, leaving plenty of room for the BBQ, and a large outdoor dining set plus seating.
Decide on the style
It is also important to have a clear idea of the style you want. From the more traditional Hacienda and Mediterranean style to the latest outdoor living rooms and sunken sofa style patios, there’s an abundance of different looks you can choose from. Use the home fashion titles to find the look you want to achieve.
The likes of House Beautiful and Houzz are full of articles like ’50 Best Patio Designs’ etc, so have a look at them and pull your ideas together on a ‘mood board’. Take style cues from your home and the surrounding outdoor space. Use materials, shapes etc that fit. How you plan to use the patio will also have a big influence on the style you go for.
Again, if dining outdoors is your thing, then a more formal outdoor dining style patio could be the way to go. If its more about a space for planting, quick sit down with a coffee etc, then a more informal Mediterranean style with lots of containers, a bench or bistro style set could be the solution.
Its your patio, your style, but try to pick a style that complements your home and enhances your outdoor space. Keep in mind the old modernist architecture adage of ‘form follows function. In other words, the style or look of your patio should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose!
Pick Your Place
Most patios are situated next to the home, leading off from a set of patio doors or the kitchen door. But they don’t need to. There’s no set rules to follow. A patio placed away from the home can make use and lift an unused corner at the the foot of the garden.
For example, if you want the sun on your patio for as much of the day as possible, then adjacent to the house might not be the best spot. On the other hand, if you plan to use your patio for outdoor dining or BBQ’s, then it makes much more sense to keep it as close to the kitchen as possible. And who’s to say you can only have one patio area?!
Choose the materials
Materials play possibly the main part in the aesthetics of your finished patio. Yes what you put on there is key to the end look, but materials are your foundation. To choose the right material takes a little care and consideration.
Theres such a vast choice of patio materials to choose from that deciding which one can be a little tricky. Its not just a simple case of picking the brick or stone you want, you’ve got a choice of natural or man made, then you have different colours, plus on top of that you need to choose the shape and size of the bricks or pavers, the pattern you want put down etc etc. The list goes on.
The Choosing Materials for Your Patio article from HGTV pretty much covers all the bases much better than I could. It provides some great tips on how to pick the right materials to design your patio. While the Landscaping Network provide a more comprehensive overview of the main patio materials and how to go about deciding which is the right one for your patio.
Before contacting a garden design firm or building contractor, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want. Gather inspiration. Visit builders merchants or local garden centres and collect product brochures etc. Nothing wrong with copying a design you see in the latest home and interior magazine. As they say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” after all.
As I touched on earlier, may of the home and garden websites have some great patio design inspiration articles. Some of my favourites include 52 Inspiring Ways to Update Your Patio by Country Living, Stunning Ways You Can Update Your Outdoor Space from House Beautiful and 16 Great Patio Ideas by Better Homes & Gardens.
Plan what you want on paper
This is what its all about, lets be honest. This is the bit I love, you can just sit down and have a bit of fun with it, bring that creativity out. Just grab a piece of paper and try to put all the ideas you have down. You don’t have to be Rembrandt, just use a ruler, a compass, architect’s template to do your curves etc.
Try and resist all the complicated pieces of garden/patio design software that you’ll find all over any patio related Google search you’re likely to do. By all means look for inspiration in the drawings done by others. But the software is not for me. They promise the earth but rarely deliver, its just another way for suppliers to flog their materials to be honest.
If you do want to go down the software route then Marshalls have a simple Garden Visualizer you could try http://www.marshalls.co.uk/homeowners/free-garden-patio-and-driveway-design-tools. Personally, I’m happier with pencil and paper. You seem to spend too long figuring out how to use the software versions, then compromising because it won’t do exactly what you want.
Stick to a Budget
Let’s be honest here, a bad patio can cost just as much as a good one. The bulk of the cost is in the materials. Allocate a budget for all labour and materials, and stick to it! Do that research, shop around for the best deals on materials. Looking online can throw up some great prices, but ask the supplier to send a sample before you buy. If they can’t, then avoid them, go elsewhere.
When it comes to finding the right person for the job, ask friends for recommendations. Get at least three quotes from three different builders/landscaping firms. And its not all about the cheapest. You need to feel comfortable with tradesmen, you need to see examples of previous jobs they’ve completed. And not just picture a too. Ask for a genuine reference. That way you can actually visit and speak to a past customer yourself.
And if you fancy a spot of further reading, then we can highly recommend How to Design A Patio Step-by-Step by Rachel Mathews. This great book will guide you through planning the perfect patio, quickly and easily.
The book features simple techniques that will enable you to design a patio that enhances your home and garden with the right style and type of paving, and most importantly suits your needs. So plan carefully before you build.
Research what’s been constructed in your local area, establish with works with your tastes, budget and design. And last but not least, do your research, and please hire a professional to do the work if you want a perfect finish that’ll last for many a summer to come!