Spring will soon be upon us and many us welcome the patio season. For those looking to extend the exterior living space, support lifestyle and meet objectives, there are design principles to consider. A good design will both function efficiently and offer aesthetic value compatible with an individuals style preference.
The first is order, which is the spatial delineation, layout or footprint. The second principle is unity. This is the relationship or connectivity between various spaces, elements, details and how the components support and relate to the overall design and concept. The third principle is rhythm. How we use and move amongst the elements, the flow both physically and visually. A good design will function well for the intended use and meet the objectives.
Exterior spaces are a combination of gardens and living rooms. Again, integration plays a role in design and the final landscape product. The infrastructure or hardscaping is designed to support the needs and objectives as well as create the bones for your garden detail. I use plant material and elements to enhance the landscape product. The use of plants can further define your space and create a certain ambience, just as an interior designer uses fabric.
The placement, orientation and design of a patio will determine the necessity for screening. The topography in Victoria often offers opportunities for privacy. I prefer quiet, private and more intimate settings for dining, leisure and gatherings. This is accomplished with the use of hardscape or softscape materials. Placement is very important to create both privacy and manage a focal point. Each selection offers different opportunities to create a feeling or projected mood. For example, large urns with plantings make for a wonderful detail providing intimacy. An innovative screen constructed using various materials, customized for your application will create privacy. The placement of vertical elements will also manage the vista or view . The porché or a partially covered patio reminiscent of the front porch offers year-round enjoyment. Patio fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular, used for both heating and an aesthetic value. Heaters can be incorporated into a design and are less intrusive than conventional heaters.
Today’s patios are equipped with much more than a table and chairs. People are spending more time outdoors and equipping the patio with amenities often associated with the interior. The “garden room” now includes built-in appliances, more lavish furnishings and is more suitable for leisure, entertaining, dining, recreational and hobby opportunities. However, as renovations extend the living space beyond the conventional walls of the home, the transition between home and garden should be seamless with smooth transitions connecting interior and exterior spaces.
The use of patios is diversifying as well. An intimate patio detail off a master bedroom can be a special and private retreat. The front entrance is another opportunity for a patio detail that creates an additional dimension to your home and a more welcoming atmosphere to greet guests. As people downsize into condominiums, balconies become the new patio and are an opportunity to incorporate traditional elements, container gardens and water features. With proper accessories your balcony becomes a vital component of your living space creating the ambience desired.
The most common mistake made is scale. People tend to under size a patio. Since there is a strong visual connection between the elements and demand for space, scale becomes a crucial part of a successful design and a balance must be achieved. In smaller spaces, this the delineation and placement is increasingly critical. Often less is better so each element has increased weight and importance. When planning a patio home owners should consider designing a patio space that suits their needs, wants and lifestyle. Patios must include sufficient furnishings and elements to support the intended use, lifestyle and objectives. This will vary depending on the intended use and needs identified. Seating may vary from formal to lounging and required capacity. Consider how the space will function. How often do you entertain? How many guests? Are your patio furnishings sufficient? Have you ever downsized and tried to move that bedroom suite into your new home? Again, the proper scale of elements in relationship to the space and the space required for traffic flow often determines the success of a design. You must plan for this flow around the elements without the need to be constantly moving things. It is critical to plan for and manage these transitions areas properly.
There are challenges for the consumer in today’s market place. There are many new and innovative materials, fabrics and products available. The consumer today has many more choices. Composite and vinyl products, wood and wood byproducts, brick and stone as well as concrete offer the right product for the right application. The application of a material and how it is used gives more opportunities to create the desired vision. Today, concrete including stamped, coloured polished and acid stained can create very contemporary variation of the traditional patio. Architecture, existing material, budgets and interior decor. I never design a landscape without viewing the interior of a residence. Continuity of materials is important for clean transitions. The exterior design should have some linkage to the interior decorum, not necessarily the same. Manufactures keep improving designs for daily use and storage, if required. More luxurious patio furniture and fabric is available, and while people want to pamper themselves, ease and comfort is important. Composite material better suited for the elements requires less maintenance and is intended for year round comfort.
Inspiration is all around us. Hotels, lounges and restaurants are often places where new trends are incorporated. I am particularly interested in design, the use of materials, furnishings and trends when travelling. Much can be learned by simple observations. If you see things that inspire you, make a note of them, and incorporate the aspects that you find provocative into the design. Are you considering a patio?