You’ll be more comfortable on a patio where adjustments have been made for particular climate problems. Getting and maintaining a comfortable patio “room temperature” often depends on using the right combination of design elements (location, overheads, vertical screens) to modify strong prevailing winds or excessive summer temperatures.
Good patio design should accommodate and adjust to your family’s varying activities-- casual gatherings, children’s games, reading, outdoor dinners, barbecues, and so on. A good way to achieve flexibility is to give design elements multiple jobs: built-in benches that store sports equipment, fire pits that double as low tables. Creating access to your patio from more than one of your main indoor living areas also makes it more flexible.
Make it a point to learn about the properties of various patio building materials-- and avoid using any that might encourage accidents. For example, some paving materials become slippery when wet; others are too uneven for children’s games, and some deck railings, though architecturally appealing, are not substantial enough to be safe.
Plan for safe traffic patterns between your house and patio and your patio and garden, and provide good lighting at steps along garden paths.
Well put-together patios are successful because they achieve a certain balance-- both architecturally and aesthetically-- in the overall garden scheme. Materials used in patio construction blend with those used in the house, and colors and textures harmonize in the patio plants and decorative touches. Attention to construction and decorative details will contribute greatly to your patio’s overall atmosphere.
The first thing to do is decide what functions you want a patio to serve. Then you can examine your landscape to see what you have to work with and where you want your patio to go.
Evaluate your needs
Your first thought should focus on your family’s needs and habits. Considering the way you live, make a list of what is most important to you (if you have children, get their input too); then, if you need to compromise, you can compromise on the less important things.
Here are some questions to consider:
Do you like to entertain with frequent outdoor dinners? Do the neighborhood kids like to play in your yard? Do you like to garden? How much time do you have to keep your patio in good condition? Do you prefer formal or casual living? Will your pets damage fragile patio plants or furniture? Your answers to these questions will determine some basic design elements for your patio.
Sizing up the Landscape
Next, take stock of your yard’s assets and liabilities. Even if you plan to enlist the services of a landscape architect, architect, or landscape designer, you should have a good understanding of your existing landscape.
Can your patio plan capitalize on a fine view? Is your property bounded by woods? Perhaps your design can take advantage of a sunny southern exposure, a mature garden, or an impressive tree.
Consider also your yard’s handicaps-- is your lot on a steep slope? Is much of the lot exposed to traffic?
Is humidity a problem in summer? Does your present patio open off the wrong room, get too much sun or shade, or lack sufficient space? You’ll want to plan a patio that minimizes your special problems.
Choosing a patio location
Where your patio goes will depend largely on the size of your lot, the way your house sits on it, the uses you have in mind for the patio, and your climate. Even if you’re stuck with a slab of concrete off the wrong room, you can still remedy a poor patio location.
Locations and lot sizes
If your house sits on a small lot, you probably have room for only one patio, most likely in a conventional spot off the living room, dining room, or kitchen. For an L or U-shaped house, however, a single patio can link and expand two or three interior rooms without consuming additional space.
If most of your yard space is in the front, perhaps your patio belongs there, protected from street traffic and noise by a screen of shrubs or fencing. And don’t overlook a narrow side yard or a garage roof-- you may be surprised how a little imagination can transform dead space into a cozy outdoor room.
If your lot is steep with no ground room for a patio, plan a wood deck constructed above ground. It can relieve horizontal claustrophobia by extending one or more rooms to open up the whole interior.
Homeowners with generous lots often find that several related patios suit their needs better than a single large one. If your lot is large, consider breaking up the space with two patios, one close to the house, the other at the far end of the garden. With patios at different spots in the yard, you can take advantage of their different exposures to sun and shade.
Separate patios off the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom-- planned for entertaining, informal outdoor dining and solitude-- provide alternatives for a family’s changing and sometimes conflicting needs.
Remedies for hand-me-downs
If you’ve inherited a poorly planned patio along with your house, you can renovate it to suit your landscape plan. Try enlarging it, resurfacing it, or connecting it to a new patio by a garden path. If you’re leaning heavily toward changing the patio completely, it’s wise to remove the old patio and start with a totally new design.
Many people spread landscape fabric, also known as weed cloth, over the excavated area before adding gravel. While the fabric can keep gravel from sinking into soggy clay, it is no panacea for stopping weeds.
Landscape fabric blocks only sprouts and runners that might come up from below: it doesn't prevent seeds that land on the surface from sprouting. You can prevent weed growth just as effectively by building your path thick enough to block sunlight from the soil - and keeping the path clean of leaves and needles.
Without decaying organic matter to nourish them, any seeds that land on the gravel and sprout will probably die on their own. If they don't, pull them by hand while they're still small. Otherwise, loosen the gravel with a pick and remove the weeds, roots and all.
Gravel paths require edging materials, and most other stone pathways benefit from it as well. Besides helping to lock the paving into place, edging material often contributes to the overall appeal of a path. Some edging is barely noticeable - a good choice if you want to create an illusion that your path is winding naturally across a site.
Plastic edging is available at any masonry supply store in several styles. For gravel paths, get rolls with a wide, rounded top edge. For stone paving, look for the type designed for brick paving. An electrician can also install outdoor lighting to complete the look.
Bricks provide a traditional touch that's equally at home in a formal garden or one with a cottage feel. This product is also available at a masonry supply store. A fence stain is another consideration to give your landscaping a distinct feel.
Special thanks to Dallas Stain Pros, DFW Landscaping and Jet Electrical Contractors for contributing their thoughts.
To some people a space for outdoor living means a quiet oasis, a small green world where they can refresh themselves; to others it is a free-swinging activities area, a place to swim or practice chip shots.
One golf fanatic I know has a regulation sand trap just off his patio, and I once visited a railroad buff whose back yard was overwhelmed by an operating signal tower.
But most outdoor spaces are intended for much the same kinds of activities as indoor ones-- relaxation, eating, entertaining, games-- and it is helpful to think of them in those terms. Such an outdoor living space is like an indoor “family room,” one of those flexible and durable places designed to accommodate everything from family meals and informal dinner parties to messy projects and impromptu games.
An outdoor family room can perform many of the same functions, as well as some strictly outdoor ones, if it is designed as a similarly flexible, all-purpose kind of space, adaptable to changing needs, easy to maintain, and, where necessary, sheltered from sun, wind and the neighbors’ eyes.
To function this way, an outdoor room must have the same basic elements that its indoor counterpart has: floor, ceiling and walls. They will not be as all-enclosing as the floor, ceiling and walls of an indoor room, but they will perform very much the same tasks.
And because they form the basic structure of the outdoor room, those parts of the elements that already exist must be taken into account during the planning stage. The house itself, for example, provides some of the walls for the outdoor living room, and generally little can be done about changing them.
Existing trees must usually be counted on for part of the ceiling; which ones-- if any-- ought to be cut down will have major influence in determining layout. But other elements need not be considered until later.
The furnishings of the outdoor space-- the purely decorative plants, flowers, pools, lighting, statuary or whatever, as well as the actual outdoor furniture-- are, like the furnishings of a house, concerns to be taken up after the basic plan of the room has been worked out to the satisfaction of the prospective users.
The Outdoor Room
A well-designed outdoor room can be a single area behind the house, but more likely it will be divided into two areas: one for intensive use-- generally a paved terrace near the house for sitting, dining and some children’s play-- and a larger adjoining area that gets lighter wear but can be used for almost anything-- an occasional game of catch or badminton with the kids, an overflow of guests from the terrace during a party, or just looking at to enjoy the feeling of spaciousness it gives.
The layout of these areas depends partly on the design of the house interior. The outdoor room must be easy to reach from indoors-- ideally, it will be a physical extension of indoor living spaces. If you have to go out a front or side door and then around the house to get to it, or if you have to go through several rooms or lead your guests through the kitchen to find it, the outdoor room probably will not be used very much, even if you spend a fortune on it.
So if your yard is not an easy step or two from the living room, dining room or back hall, it will almost certainly be worth the expense, generally a modest one, to convert a rear window into a door.
The location of the access to the back yard usually determines the location of the terrace section. If this space is kept close to the kitchen, meals and drinks can be served with a minimum of walking back and forth.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule requiring the terrace to be close to the refrigerator; if by walking to another part of your property you can gain a much better view, say of a lovely river valley, it would be silly to ignore that location and build the terrace next to the house simply to have it handy to the kitchen.
Or, if you happen to be blessed with a magnificent old shade tree that is not right near the house, a path to a terrace there might well be worth the extra steps.
It is easier to be explicit about the size and shape of a terrace. For convenient use by a few people-- say a party of six or eight-- it should be at least 12 feet on a side, preferably 15 feet, and more square or round than oblong to allow for natural furniture groupings and room to move around in.
A terrace that is 20 or even 30 feet across is still better; it will permit the entertaining of a large group on a summer evening, and it will also be roomy enough to do double duty as a children’s play area, one that is easily supervised from windows of the house.
For the larger open space beyond the terrace the main criteria are just that-- large if possible and in any case open. A yard dotted with trees and shrubs at random becomes an obstacle course that is difficult if not impossible to play touch football or croquet on and, if planted in grass, an eternal nuisance to mow.
Balance in patio planning comes when design elements are combined artfully to produce the same visual “weight” (not symmetry) on either side of a center of interest. If your patio is shaded on one side by a mature tree, you might balance the tree’s “weight” with perimeter benches on the other side.
If your patio is small and enclosed, but equipped at one end with a garden pool, you might balance the pool with patio furniture and accent plants.
How much of the patio design and/or construction you can do yourself depends largely on your time, energy, skill, and experience you can give to the project.
If you have a knack for design, there is no reason why you cannot develop a good patio design, though its a good idea to at least go for an hour’s consultation with a professional landscape architect. He or she can give you general parameters of good design and apply them to your situation, perhaps with a few rough sketches.
If you are a skilled weekend carpenter you should have no serious problems building a simple deck or patio overhead. If you aren’t handy with a hammer, almost every remodeling project has a few easy, do-it-yourself opportunities. You can work on the parts of the job suited to your talents and temperament, leaving the difficult work for the specialists.
If you decide to tackle the entire project-- from design through construction-- be sure you have the time and energy for it. Regulations governing building and remodeling can be exasperating-- and your design must accommodate those that affect your neighborhood.
Learning new skills may seem intriguing until you run into complications that call for an expert’s judgement. Estimating and buying the exact materials and tools you’ll need can seem frustrating, especially when material prices change from week to week.
In other words, be realistic. Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do well, and operate within that framework.
There is always the safe way of doing things when decorating your home and there is nothing wrong with a classic or traditional look. Plenty of designers and home decor gurus who preach on tried and true classical pieces. But some of us like to think a little outside the box with our home environment.
Maybe we like to do things differently in general… maybe we like a little spark of the unusual… perhaps we dare to allow ourselves to be playful. Well, for those that lean toward a bit of creative whimsy, this article is for you. Take a look at some of these out-of-the-box design ideas and be inspired!
Unique Shaped Furniture
This is a real step in going against the norm and definitely for non-traditionalists. If you are really adventurous, you can put a strange piece of furniture anywhere in your house but you must be willing to live with the piece. Almost all one-of-a-kind designs and artisan made pieces are on the pricey side.
Tables are a great place to start. You can make a statement with a dining table crafted out of a tree stump or a coffee table made from an antique drum. Strange and unusual tables can be found from artists and specialty stores online or you may just get lucky at an antique dealer.
We have seen some marvelously fascinating tables in all shapes and colors, some that appear to be melting and others in the most bizarre shapes ( with “human” legs for example)! One completely off the wall idea is to have a “living” table with the top transformed into a plant bed with live grass. The concept behind this design was to replicate the feel of a picnic. How unique!
Another great place to exhibit your “wild” side is the bedroom. Why not go to sleep in a dream-worthy land each night and wake up to inspiration. We’re talking beds that resemble fairy-tale forests, with each post in the shape of a realistic tree! Or how about a hammock bed?
Certain designers have taken the hammock design to a new level with added comfort and on a larger scale. This is great for that soothing feeling of weightlessness and the comfort of gentle rocking. And to get even funkier, there are beds out there in a plethora of crazy shapes from coffins to canoes.
In this category, the sky is truly the limit. It really depends on how far you’re willing to push the design limits and what statement you are desiring to make. Some furniture out there is more a work of art or meant for shock value.
How about a chair made to look like it was fashioned out of raw meat, or a coat hanger made of plastic doll limbs? To each his own! If you want your house to be full of conversation, take a chance with one of these ideas!
This is a great way to go for the do-it-yourselfer or the bargain hunter with an eye for good bones. If you already own an older quality piece of furniture such as a chair or couch, you can have it reupholstered with unique or funky fabric and bring it back to life. Generally reupholstering will cost the same if not more than buying new furniture.
However, with a very high-quality piece that has stood the test of time, it can be worth it. The main benefit here is customizability. You can create a look entirely your own with fabric and colors that cannot be found in ready made furniture. If you want to make a statement piece out of an old chair, choose bright colors and unique patterns.
For non-fabric furniture such as dressers, tables and armoires, a good sanding and new paint job can do wonders. Here is where the smart, thrifty shopper can really save some bucks. There are many ways to acquire used furniture at extreme discount.
If you have the time, check out thrift stores, resale shops, and estate sales for some good finds. Then do a little bit of research or youtube surfing and enjoy your project. There are some fantastic whimsical paint ideas out there and many are quite easy to do.
Home design trends, like clothing fashion, change quite frequently. Many times there are simple updates you can make to keep your home looking fresh and modern. Here we will give you advice on current styles as well as common mistakes to avoid when updating your home. Use the following list as your guide and you are sure to impress friends and family with your latest updates.
Blue, blue and more blue! Not only is the color blue hot on the runways this year, it’s hugely popular in home decor and design. Using shades of blue is definitely one of the most noteworthy trends of 2014. We are seeing every color and pairing of blue from turquoise to azure and anything in between. You don’t even need to worry about mixing and matching different shades of blue within one room. In fact, the most exciting way to update with blue this year seems to be combining a myriad of different shades. This can be done with wall color, furniture, pillows, any number of accent pieces or all of the above. This is essentially the easiest and most foolproof way to add a fresh update to your home.
Overly matching furniture, accent pieces and patterns is out! We are way past the 1950’s, my friends. In our modern era, we know that perfection is not only unattainable, but the appearance of perfection is quite uninviting. A room with different yet complementary colors, patterns and textures has character and warmth. We are moving further and further away from the days of formal sitting rooms that shout “Don’t touch!” and “Keep out!” We want our family and guests to feel welcome in our homes and to also get a sense of who we are based on personal style.
We could label this a move toward a more eclectic design sense. But really, over-matching (more than one couch in the same color, two of everything, and repeated colors and fabrics) has been a thing of the past for a long time. Show your personal style in your home. Mix and match varying yet complementary tones, textures and patterns. The key is knowing the difference between “matching” and “coordinating.”
Ethnic prints and accent pieces are way in this year. Varying prints inspired by exotic locals and fair-trade decor items add character and conversation starters to any room. This is also a fantastic way to showcase your travel souvenirs. This trend was born through the ever-growing importance of travel for our younger generations and also the uniting fair trade movement to help third world indigenous people. Bright, bold prints especially on pillows and rugs give rooms a well-traveled, bohemian vibe. This is a fun way to bring plain colored couches to life and draw the eye away from boring vanilla walls. We encourage you to buy fair trade items as much as possible. Not only will you be adding a significant update to your home, but you will also be doing your part to help those in need.
Keeping furniture against walls may seem like the best way to arrange a room, but this is one of the most common mistakes you can make. A room needs to have a sense of intimacy and proper flow. This means that couches, chairs or tables (any main pieces of furniture) should be the central point of a room, inviting guests to sit or dine.
The space between furniture and walls should vary according to the size of the room. If the room is quite large, any furniture butted up against walls will be easily dwarfed by the space. You don’t want your guests to be sitting and staring out at a big empty space, you want them to feel like they are gathered together sharing in an intimate environment. You want your family and your guests to be the center of any room. So when you are arranging furniture in your house, think about what would inspire comfort and intimacy.
Natural and outdoor elements brought indoors. This is one of the bolder trends for 2014 but we are confident that it will continue into 2015 and possibly beyond. There are varying extremes of this concept from actually incorporating live plants, rocks, and branches into design elements to furniture and decor in nature inspired shapes. The idea is to create the serene feeling of being in a garden or forest.
Depending on your taste, this could be as simple as a few new plants or as extravagant and unique as a chandelier made of branches. This design element plays well with the ethnic prints and patterns that are also en vogue for 2014.
Too much is never in style, whether it be too much clutter, too much pattern, or too many contrasting colors. We want to emphasize this especially with some of the more eclectic looks that are coming into style. If you have lots of travel souvenirs you want to display, be careful not to crowd them all into one space.
Grouping everything together can be overwhelming on the eye and draw attention away from other elements in the room. Your collections can be displayed throughout the house without detracting from their conversational value. Similarly, accenting a room with exciting patterns can be executed beautifully, but you must not overdo it or you will have a dizzying effect and the room will lose its comfortable appeal.
This final section is dedicated to some of the less extravagant, yet still noteworthy trends of 2014. Corduroy is hot in fabric, especially for couches and chairs. The use of brass has become popular recently as well.
However, this must be done right or can appear quite tacky. Mainly we are seeing stately brass elements in upscale kitchens and bathrooms. Lighter colored woods are being seen throughout the design world. We are seeing a move away from the rich dark stained woods of the past to a lighter, fresh, even beachy look. Lighter woods give an open airy feel and can make a room look much larger.
Along these same lines, we see the use of sheer window dressing is big this year. Again, this gives a lighter, airy feel to the interior and allows for more light to enter a room. Overall, the general movement of 2014 design trends lean toward unique, personalized spaces with inviting atmospheres and elements of peaceful relaxation. Have fun making this your year for change!
Planning a home remodel can be a daunting task. Whether you are remodeling a bathroom or undertaking a complete home makeover, it’s important to be up to date on the latest styles and innovations.
Every year there are at least a few new and unexpected trends in home remodeling and interior design.
In this article we will break down the top ideas for 2014, some brand new and some which have been going strong for years but still bear mentioning due to relevance. Read on for some exciting ideas to keep your home fresh!
1. Going Green: Of course this is not exactly a new trend but with each year manufacturers and builders are going increasingly more green. Sustainability has become an assumption in the home remodeling industry instead of an option. This is definitely something to keep in mind when hiring companies to work on your home. It never hurts to ask about their policies and sourcing so you can rest assured you are doing the best you can to reduce your carbon footprint. Some examples of green thinking include the following:
Composite decking is made from a combination of wood waste and recycled plastic. This option makes for outdoor patios and decks that are green, durable and beautiful.
Paper-based countertops in kitchens and bathrooms are a great alternative to stone and plastic. They are made from tree pulp and are highly durable.
The use of lumber from certified sustainable forests. Do your homework and find plywood that is certified by the FSC ( the Forest Stewardship Council).
Bamboo plywood and soy concrete stain. Both bamboo and soy are easily grown and rapidly renewable resources.
These are just a few green concepts. You can easily find more ideas and companies that take a responsible environmental stance, by simply doing some research online.
2. Urban Downsizing is also a continued trend in 2014. People, especially the younger working generations, prefer smaller living spaces closer to downtowns rather than larger homes in the suburbs. People prefer avoiding long commutes and the younger generations spend less time at home. Many also prefer to spend their money on travel rather than investing in larger homes. Retiring adults are also hopping on board with this trend to conserve financially.
3. Aesthetically speaking, bright, bold colors are a hot trend for 2014. This was a big thing last year as well, however, this year’s colors are even more of a statement. Designers are showcasing extra vivid accent walls in colors such as tangerine, lime green, hot pink, and vibrant red. Accent walls are a relatively cheap and low commitment way to add some pizazz to a dull room or showcase certain favorite pieces of furniture. Designers are also continuing the bright color trend down to the flooring. Perhaps this goes hand-in-hand with urban downsizing? With smaller living spaces, a bright pop of color can add that touch of personality needed to make a small space your own.
4. On the opposite end of the extreme bright accent wall is a new trend toward black accent walls. That’s right! Something new for this year is the use of glamorous black or darkly hued walls to add depth, drama and glamour. Could this possibly be a result of recent years fascination with vampires and the macabre?
Wherever it started, this certainly must be done right for those bold enough to try it. Black walls generally works best with metallic wall decor or gleaming chandeliers. If you have a few bright, glittering pieces of decor and the right attitude, go for it.
5. Curbless showers and stand-alone tubs are both popular bathroom remodeling trends this year. The stand alone tub is visually appealing and space saving at the same time, while the curbless shower gives the illusion of a more open area. Both concepts lend an air of resort style luxury for those looking to improve upon the bathing experience.
However, make sure you do your homework and consult with a company who has experience with the curbless showers. If done incorrectly, you may end up with leaks. If you are currently in the market for a shower remodel, one of our shower remodeling contractors can assist you.
6. Tech-savvy U-sockets. This is one of the newest and hottest trends for 2014. The modern family, bachelor, single lady, and kiddo all have one thing in common: we need our gadgets and we need them to be charged up and ready to go. The U-socket is an outlet with the addition of two built in USB ports.
This says a lot about how much our technology has changed. While the U-socket is a brand new design concept for 2014, they are sure to one day be a common accoutrement in any home. Soon to be gone are the days of the old socket outlet.
We asked some of the busiest contractors and local business owners in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex about their favorite remodeling and home DIY trends for 2014-2015. We got some interesting answers from the owners of these websites:
"Minimalism in the kitchen, especially in lofts. Removal of walls." -www.valorseo.com
"Gutters that have a flair all their own - copper and other materials that aren't normally associated with our industry." -www.dfwgutterinstallation.com
"Metal and slate roofing is quickly becoming more popular in the wake of the recent hail storms here in North Texas." -www.metalroofingindallas.com
"Patterned concrete has never been hotter, especially in peak months like June and July. We've been receiving a steady stream of referrals from satisfied customers over the past year as the housing marketing continues to stay strong here in North Dallas." -www.stampedconcretedallas.net
Other ideas we kept hearing include infinity pools, shower conversions and granite countertops.
One of our main collaborators is Mike, who recently opened San Antonio Waterproofing, as well as a new divisions in Oklahoma City and Austin. Mike is currently offering a variety of specials in his major markets of Houston, SA, Austin and Tulsa. If you are interested, visit his San Antonio branch link above for more info. This includes a complimentary consultation with a member of his sales team.
Areas they specialize in include:
They are an established company that was originally founded in Dallas and has grown across the state. If you need help with a home project, look no further.
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