6 Elements of a Great Outdoor Patio Design

Are you decorating an outdoor living space at your hotel or resort?  Designing a backyard patio that will make your neighbors jealous?  Or giving your weekend vacation home or camp an outside makeover?  Whether you’re designing a commercial patio space or just one for you to enjoy at home, here are some decorating elements that will help create the perfect place for you or your guests.

1. Function
How do you think the patio will be used? Does it need to be an extension of your family’s kitchen, or is it more for cigar smoking or reading alone?  Does it need to offer a kid-friendly space for playing, or will you need to run electricity for laptops or other work spaces?  Perhaps, you’ll need to divide the area into sections; for example, patio dining set on one side and a quiet retreat with hammock or porch swing on the other.  Smaller spaces can host a few Adirondack chairs for morning coffee sipping, telescope viewing, or a cozy place to chat on the phone.  For hotels or resorts, you’ll need to know your target audience.  Do you cater to busy families near the pool or are you offering a romantic getaway for couples looking for a private place to have a glass of wine while listening to the ocean waves crash against the beach?  Once you determine how the space will be used, you can decide the best way to lay it out for your own specific needs.

2. Comfort
Think about all the things you’ll want to incorporate on your porch or patio to make it as comfortable as possible.

Caribbean Dining Collection
Here are some ideas for your wishlist:

  • Patio furniture that fits the function
  • Seat cushions, throw pillows, or blankets
  • Privacy screens
  • Patio heater or misting fan
  • Patio umbrella
  • Wine, dishes, towel, or other convenient storage
  • Electrical outlets
  • Outdoor flooring or carpet
  • Tiki torches for mosquito control

3. Color
Color and design go hand-in-hand.  If using your patio primarily through the days, choose cool colors: white, pastels, tans or neutrals. If your patio is drawing a night crowd, you can use warmer or darker hues, like chocolate brown, black, or red.  Or, have a little fun and express your funky personality through some bright oranges, limes, or yellows.  You can add in pops of color through cushions or throw pillows, as well as your outside accessories. Don’t be afraid to experiment with bringing in fresh color, patterns, or textures into your outdoor design.

Sure, it’s an extension of your inside decor, but it’s a great space to try broadening your palette. If you’re looking for a more naturally-inspired decor that really envelopes from its outdoor surroundings, take note of what plants, trees, or water features are nearby and borrow those hues for your patio furniture selections.

4. Landscaping
Celebrate nature in or around your patio with a great landscaping design. Bring in new leafy plants or flowers to your exterior decor, or design your patio around a garden, pond, or tree line.  Get inspired with publications like Garden Design or by flipping through reader photos at Houzz.

5. Lighting
Natural daylight wanes in the evenings, so introducing some lights for evenings on your patio could be beneficial. Whether you use patio lamps, string lights, candles, lanterns, or outdoor track lighting, the right use of light can help accentuate the mood of your patio and help you achieve a more functional space regardless of time of day.

6. Accessories
Every exterior designer knows the details are in the patio accessories!  From side tables to shelving, to vases and other decorations, have fun with accessorizing your space to match your patio’s personality.

What tips do you have for decorating a patio?

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