Patio is Spanish for courtyard or forecourt. It may be in the form of a wooden deck or a paved side area or even a tiled space connecting two houses.
Whatever its design, the patiois an extension of the house where people relax, hang out with friends and family or entertain guests on special occasions. It is a personal space devoted to socializing. The patio can also serve as a safe play area for children and pets.
The traditional patio takes after its Spanish origins. It is usually a large open space that is paved or laid out in concrete or bricks. The traditional patio is outfitted with the classic wrought-iron furniture or wicker chairs and coffee table, and surrounded by flowering shrubs in a burst of colorful blooms.
And to give it a genuine touch of Spain, a simple or three-tiered stone fountain can be added to its center. Ceramic pieces such as vases combined with terracotta pots amid lush surrounding shrubs add to the ambiance reminiscent of warm Spanish summers.
For furniture, go for the wrought-iron bistro set. Wicker or rattan chairs complete with the glass-top coffee table will also do. A cypress or topiary at either end of the patio adds to the Spanish motif.
For a more upbeat patio, a modern look is in order beginning with the fittings.
Furniture for the modern patio comes in a vast range of forms, styles, themes, and colors. They range from ultra modern to the avant-garde.
You can have cushy chaise lounges to accompany a sleek low table in black with scented tea lights as center pieces. Round chairs and tables made of rattan with pastel cushions partner well with a brick patio that overlooks a pond.
Instead of the usual terracotta planters to surround the patio, use steel or aluminum ones with their shiny finish contrasting with the soft greens and bold colors of flowers.
Another ultra-modern look is to lose the usual coffee table and chairs and have an L-shaped sauna-type wooden bench installed atop a two-foot ledge with water flowing from three spouts from a side wall into a side pool. Top the look with a stone fire pit in front of the wooden bench. A stone garden can serve as backdrop for this theme.
For a more avant-garde design, one can opt for the glass-walled patio that serves as a sun room. Sunshine with a clear view of the outdoors is enjoyed while there are no worries of getting drenched in case of rain. There are even designs that offer retractable glass roofs to let the summer breeze in.
But whether traditional or contemporary, it is important to remember that your patio is an extension of the main house. It may well be considered an extra room. So the trick is to make sure that the patio design blends well with the overall design of the house. It should also project the atmosphere or ambiance you had in mind-cozy and relaxing or soothing and friendly.