Not all outdoor living spaces have to be backyard decks or porches. A backyard patio is a much better option in many situations. Patios are particularly well suited to smaller sites that have tight setbacks or other spatial constraints; unlike decks, they typically do not require permitting and are often excluded from setback and zoning limitations.
Because they can be more responsive to the site, patios enable more organic and elaborate designs than decks and porches. Also, a well-designed patio has fewer physical boundaries between it, the landscape, and the view, which creates a more comfortable and integrated experience for homeowners and guests.
When it comes to designing a patio, focus on who will use the space most often, but ensure that it can accommodate both large parties and small gatherings equally. Because a well-executed outdoor space can have a profound influence on the quality of indoor living, design the patio in a way that it can be used in all but the coldest months.
The patios featured here were designed for a family of five. While the site plan remains the same, the designs differ in cost and complexity. The lessons learned in these two specific examples can be applied to patios of all shapes, sizes, and uses.
Basic but elegant
This design highlights the elements that make up a simple patio. Using a form that avoids curves and that takes advantage of oversize concrete pavers allows an uncomplicated installation. One benefit of this patio design is the inherent flexibility within each defined space that can allow it to expand into the nearby yard if necessary. While this is a highly functional and comfortable patio, additional details and features can be added to make it more unique and roomlike.
Complex yet comfortable
This design features a larger and more elaborate patio by incorporating several defined spaces, a variety of materials, built-ins, and numerous access points. The patio is larger and executed with more detail, and it can support extensive outdoor use. It can accommodate a larger number of people than the basic patio, but it still has appropriately scaled spaces to make it comfortable when occupied only by a few.
Drawings: Jamie Maloney