Any homeowner who learns how to design a patio has discovered the key to adding an outdoor space for both relaxation and entertainment to their overall living space. There are several steps to take in order to design a patio for maximum usage and enjoyment.

(1) Pick the right spot. Although a deck may be designed on hilly or terraced land, a patio requires level ground. A patio should be designed to suit the climate and positioned so that the presence of both sunshine and shade is adequate throughout the day. Most patio designs benefit by allowing for a southern exposure to maximum light and sunshine. The patio should also take advantage of a beautiful view or face some flora and fauna rather than a stark building or a brick wall. Some patios can take advantage of using one wall of the home for connecting a shade roof or awning to partially enclose the patio space.

(2) Invest in a sketchpad. This will allow you to play around with design ideas and shapes on paper before you commit to construction. It’s much easier to use an eraser than to discover you’ve built a patio that’s lacking important design elements because you didn’t have a clear picture of just what you were designing. Decide what shape is best for the spot you’ve selected for your patio so that it blends in well with the rest of the environment. It could be gently rounded, narrow and compact, or a square shape that feels like an additional room that’s been added outdoors as an extension to the main house.

(3) Match the design of your patio to the rest of your house. A square, formal patio will suit a Colonial style home or a more traditional looking home, but a round patio bordered by gardens might be more suited to a country cottage or a less formal style of home. Decide if the patio will be directly adjacent to the back door of the house, set off to the side as its own living space, or off to the side of the house to take advantage of otherwise unused space. Just make sure that access to the patio from the house will be easy and be sure to include a brick or flagstone walkway leading up to the patio if it is not constructed right outside the back or side door. You and your guests don’t want to have to walk over grass or mud travelling to and from the patio.

(4) Choose a theme for the patio so that the furnishings are not just a mish-mash of plastic chairs and tables. Polynesian tiki, Mediterranean, English Country garden, Santa Fe Southwestern and Bold Op Art represent just some of the atmospheres you can create with seating, tables, lamps, planters and bars that all complement or accent your chosen theme.

Now you are ready to finalize your design sketch and start ordering construction materials and furnishings for your new patio. Check out Great Landscape Ideas for more patio design ideas.

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