The word patio may bring to mind warm nights and seasonal produce on the barbecue, but there’s much to be said for outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed beyond the summer season. Crisp autumn mornings and cooler evenings don’t necessarily mean it’s time to head indoors—it may simply be time for a seasonal update. With a little help from expert Scott Selzer, CEO of pergola manufacturer StruXure, these five tips will help you transform your patio into a luxury space you can enjoy well past the warmer months.
Clarify Your Vision
Creating a beautiful space takes time, planning, and creativity—even if it’s outdoors. That’s why it’s important to consider all aspects of the design as you begin. “We want it to look as if your new pergola has been part of the outdoor space from the start, not an afterthought,” says Selzer. He recommends finding the “why” for your patio: for example, will you need rain protection? Screens for shade? How much seating is required? Once you’ve homed in on how you’ll be using the space, you can make your patio vision come to life with style and décor choices that align with your plan.
Be Intentional With Design
Think of your outdoor living space as an extension of your home and give it your personal touch. “Homeowners are looking for a patio design that is uniquely their own,” Selzer says. And why not? Designing your own patio is a fantastic opportunity to further customize your home with architectural elements and furnishings.
“We want it to look as if your new pergola has been part of the outdoor space from the start, not an afterthought,” points out Selzer. He recommends thinking through how to blend your patio with its environment through color. For added visual interest, choose louvers in a contrasting hue from the patio posts and framework. Whether your ultimate patio goal is the tranquility of Scandinavian minimalism or the organic textures of beach-house relaxation, the options are endless for creating a custom space.
Bring the Heat
In order to spend more time outdoors, a source of exterior heat is a necessity. There are a few ways to warm up a patio, depending on your vision. Selzer recommends considering which type of heating solution makes sense for your intended use of your pergola. “Aesthetically and functionally, is it better to have built-in heaters or those that can be moved in and out of the space?” he says. “The important point is that when planning an outdoor area, think ahead about how to make the space more comfortable. There are a number of great infrared heaters on the market that can be easily recessed into or mounted onto your pergola for a seamless design.
Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces can also extend your time outside, and they add a welcoming focal point for gatherings. Make sure to have cozy blankets, throw pillows, and rugs on hand—opt for heavier materials like wool and faux fur—to add even more comfort.
Give it a Glow
Long summer days mean you can get away with fewer lights. On darker evenings, you may find you need a different approach to set the mood. “Lighting is essential to creating a year-round, usable space,” Selzer says. “Lighting is also a way to create ambiance. I recommend a variety of lighting options to my clients, everything from wet-rated can lights to RGB wet-rated strip lights.” The right contractor will be able to advise on infrastructure and running wiring so that your lighting choices don’t detract from the patio during the day. From can lights to lamps to lanterns and candles, getting creative with the way a patio glows can make it feel that much more warm and inviting.
If you’re going to spend more time at home enjoying your patio, invest in it properly so you can maximize the outdoors for seasons—and years—to come. “One regret we hear from some of our clients is that they wish they’d gone bigger, in terms of covering even more of their outdoor space,” says Selzer. “Even if you aren’t sure about retractable screens, fans, lighting, or heaters, if there’s even a possibility that you’ll want them at a later time, make the small investment in larger accessory-accommodating beams and framework that will make adding these accessories a snap when you are ready for them.” By leaving yourself room to grow your patio in future years, you can achieve the outdoor space of your dreams without any regrets later on.
It’s easy to enjoy the outdoors during the warmer months, but it’d be a shame to miss out on the changing seasons just because the patio furniture is packed away. Enjoy all the glory of the shoulder seasons by extending the life of your patio. The outdoors is calling.
For more outdoor living inspiration, view the spectacular patios of these properties.
This article was originally published on Sotheby’s International Realty’s Extraordinary Living Blog and has been adapted for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. This article was originally published on May 25, 2021 and has been updated on November 18, 2021.