Outdoor Living

By Sharon Naylor

February 8, 2018 6 min read

Homeowners dream about gorgeous patio space for entertaining, al fresco family dinners and relaxation. Those with existing patios seek to improve upon them, and those without patios seek to design them and have them installed. The desired result is wow-factor beauty in a new space for togetherness and celebrations. You've most likely spotted a few jaw-dropping designs online and on your favorite HGTV shows. Perhaps you envision your circle of friends and family sipping iced tea or cocktails at your outdoor bar and then venturing to cozy seats around the fire pit. It's The Good Life: Outdoor Edition.

Joining patios on the homeowner's wish list are stunning walkways, patterned paths of beauty leading to your front door or your patio, and perhaps throughout your garden grounds. The walk to your outdoor spaces and to your home becomes lovelier, adding greater curb appeal and even more value to your home.

As you seek to design or upgrade your patio and walkways, keep these rising trends in mind.

*Spacious Patios

Whether or not you have French doors opening directly to your patio, a spacious outdoors creates the effect of an additional room for living, dining or entertaining. Outdoor seating areas with cozy, upscale couches, chairs, coffee tables, end tables and outdoor rugs are on trend as spaces for gathering. Double up on cooking prep space with an outdoor bar and kitchen. Ones with elite designer grills, refrigerators, wine chillers and stone pizza ovens are rising in popularity as we become more inspired by the "after" images on design shows (and the designs of our friends, family and neighbors).

*Natural Materials

Pete Houghton, owner of Limbach's Landscaping in Green Village, New Jersey, says: "We're currently seeing a swing away from pavers and manufactured blocks towards reclaimed, used brick and natural stone, or a combination of the two, in patio and walkway design, such as reclaimed brick and bleached pavers." There will be a swing back toward new and innovative construction materials, such as concrete surfaces that look like wood, as the industry continues to evolve.

*Mix-and-Match Stone Color

These days, homeowners are stepping away from neutral colors. "We're using a lot more bluestone, that when used with brick creates a blue and red palette," says Houghton. "In many stone designs, each piece has a range of colors from tans to pinks to purples, allowing for an interesting range of hues in the construction of a patio or walkway."

*Wall Benches

Rather than patio furniture sets, folks are building low benches right into walls. These add even more seating space for gatherings and can be accessorized with outdoor cushions and pillows.

*Fireplaces and Fire Pits

The benefit of these fire features is threefold: They add ambiance and elegance, offer a cozy gathering space for loved ones and extend your outdoor-living season by providing warmth during chillier spring and fall days, or perhaps even winter. Visit the Family Living Today website, a resource for family safety information, to read about the 50 best fire pits for 2018. Varieties include freestanding, 360-degree fire view, propane-fueled and more.

*Patio Covers and Overhead Effects

Pergolas and retractable awnings are a beautiful aesthetic touch that increase opportunities for outside enjoyment. Open pergolas are on trend for providing a bit of shade and an attractive contrast in wood and stone natural materials. Some homeowners train vines to grow up and over, even adding seasonal variations like lush greenery in early spring and a sea of lilac or other blooming flowers in summer. Strings of patio lights above create an intimate lit setting for dinner parties and gatherings.

*Stone Edging

Create an interesting visual perimeter to your patio and walkways with stone edging. It keeps mulch, gravel, stones and weeds away from the walking path and looks so much prettier than that old black rubber barrier line. It may even be color-stamped for a more defined perimeter.

*Personalized Design Elements

When getting creative with design, it's fun to take the opportunity to personalize. Houghton says, "We've done stone rondeles with the house number etched into it as a personalized, visual piece on a front walkway." The same effect can be created on a patio with monogrammed letters sandblasted into the center stones or the stone steps.

The idea of seemingly endless choices might be overwhelming, but have no fear. Speak with a reputable landscape designer about the space first. It could be that only certain types of stones can endure the dramatic temperature changes in your region. Stamped concrete designs may be ideal for your particular patio location, or it might be best to go with bricks or pavers that can be easily removed to access underground pipes. This guidance and more will help you make informed decisions.

Upgrading your walkways and patio will enhance your living experience and potentially increase the value of your home. Follow any of these trends and you are sure to love the finished product for years to come.

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