Summer has officially come to an end, but that doesn’t mean patio season has to. I’ve been getting plenty of sun and have quite the tan to prove it. But honestly, I’ve been looking forward to enjoying my patio even more during the cooler, less humid, fall months. Working from home full-time with two kids means we spend a lot of time outdoors. So, we made it a priority to create a space we all can enjoy.
What we started with
A concrete slab. That’s it. We’ve lived in this house for about a year and a half now and honestly, until recently, we weren’t spending too much time outdoors. Pre-Covid, we were constantly busy with the everyday grind of work and family life. But now that we’re home most of the time, we had to make some changes. Here are my list of essentials for creating an outdoor living space the whole family can enjoy:
When you live in the south, shade is essential. I personally like soaking in the sun even on hot summer days, so I didn’t want to completely block those rays. This is also essential to being able to enjoy our patio far into the fall months when it can get pretty cool without sunlight. A pergola was ideal. It provides a little bit of shelter without completely blocking the sun. We threw in some curtains to add some flexibility, provide additional shade, soften up the space and create some privacy. Curtains can also be used to block those cool breezes in those fall months. Just make sure the curtain rod and curtains are made for outdoors. Curtains should be water-proof, grommets should be rust-proof and the curtain rod should be rust proof as well. I am concerned about wind and storms, so I decided to go with a rod that is fully mounted to the pergola, and used “s” hooks to hang the curtains. This allows for me to easily take down the curtains before heavy storms if needed.
A rug is what truly makes the patio feel like a living space and is an important design element. This is also an opportunity to add some personality with so many designs and colors to choose from. A rug can, again, soften up the space and turn a concrete pad into a cozy outdoor lounge. Make sure the rug is made for outdoors – waterproof and stain resistant.
Duh. Seating is probably the most important aspect of your patio. Depending on your needs, a variety of seating may be best. Initially, we purchased just two chairs with a small table to meet our immediate needs. But, as a family of four and knowing we would want to host friends and family eventually (post Covid-19), more seating was necessary. I found this modular outdoor sectional that fit perfectly. I LOVE modular furniture. It just adds a level of flexibility when you want or need to change things up. Plus it’s easier to move and store small sections instead of one heavy piece of furniture. Just something to think about.
Not necessary, but adds some interest and can help keep bugs away. I knew I wanted outdoor plants – potted plants to be specific because of the flexibility, again. After doing some research I found out that there are quite a few plants that help repel annoying bugs like mosquitos. I am drawn to lemon grass because of how tall it grows. The height would add some dynamic to the space. And I also chose lavender. No need to explain why, right? Who doesn’t like lavender? Both plant repel mosquitos and are pretty nice to look at. Win – win.
Patio living shouldn’t end when the sun goes down. Throw in some string lights to set the mood and light up your space. Solar powered lights were the best option for us. No need to plug anything in. Just mount the lights and face the panel towards the sun. Our back yard is very open, so access to direct sunlight was not a problem at all. The lights turn on automatically once it’s dark enough. Easy.
During heavy rain and storms and in the winter, you’ll need somewhere to store your furniture cushions, pillows and curtains. We purchased a deck box. It was small enough to fit on the patio without taking up too much space. However, it was large enough to hold all of the furniture cushions, pillows and curtains. A lot of desk boxes have a flat top and can be used as additional seating. Using a deck box allowed us to keep storage close by instead of having to haul items to our storage shed or garage.
Now that we have our patio set-up I really want to try and make it a space we can enjoy MOST of the year. So, I’m considering getting a few blankets and a fire pit for the colder fall nights. What are some of your favorite patio staples you can’t live without?