Creating a 21st century patio
are deciding to create an "exterior kitchen" for their homes. Built-in grills,
refrigerators and beverage tappers are growing in popularity. The 30-inch high,
specially-built outdoor refrigerators are small units that are completely stainless
steel. They fit under the 30- to 36-inch countertops and are unplugged in the
winter. Beverage tappers are used to cool beer, wine and even iced tea.
don't want to stand alone over a stove inside, when they can cook with friends
and family together outside on a nice summer day. According to Gorski, an outdoor
kitchen can be created in as small a space as a 10-foot by 10-foot patio. This
allows the homeowner to also place a 48-inch table with four chairs on the patio.
Homeowners considering installing an outdoor kitchen should know that it can cost
$10,000 to $15,000.
Some homeowners want a roof over the patio
such as an arbor pergola. This free-standing roof has four posts or columns and
a roof that is open to the sky. People installing a pergola may have vines climbing
Fire and water features
"Fire and water are two elements that attract our senses," Gorski says. "Sharing
a warm, toasty fire with friends on a crisp evening or reading a favorite book
while listening to the trickle of water from a serenity pool are elements frequently
wanted in outdoor space." A fireplace or fire pit allows families to use their
outdoor living area much earlier or later in the season. A small pond or bubbler
has a soothing effect and can even attract wildlife. Beautiful songbirds will
simply stop and take a drink.
There are multiple ways to put
in a small pond. Most homeowners want it built right into the patio -- cutting
out the area before placing down the actual patio floor. Some submerged ponds
have an upper basin with water that trickles down to the lower basin.
manufacturers offer stone products that look like urns spilling water. They can
be placed on the patio and bubble over or trickle down onto a gravel basin, which
has a pump assembly underneath. Urns can be as small as 30-inches by 30-inches.
bubbler, providing small visual and sound effects, just trickles over the stone
and runs down. It requires less maintenance than a pond, which needs chemicals
to stay clear. For people on a budget, a bubbler is priced from $150 to $300,
while a small pond purchased and installed could cost $5,000.
Plants are chosen to provide screening from neighboring
areas, add shade to escape from afternoon sun, bring color and fragrance to the
living area and, in general, create a "living room" feel. Evergreens provide privacy
and a continuum of green. Shade trees can help create a canopy to make the homeowner
feel secure and sheltered. Selecting multiple flowering plants and perennials
can contribute to a full season of color and fragrance, and even add winter interest.
of the most effective ways to personalize your outdoor room is to add planters
or urns. In Europe, planters add personal touches of color and fragrance to balconies,
window boxes, terraces and entry ways. A planter placed in a highly visible location
on your patio can be planted with bulbs for the spring, annuals in the summer,
filled with mums in the fall and holly branches in the winter.
An extremely effective way to extend the use of any outdoor
area is by landscape lighting. By providing soft, indirect lighting, the outdoor
space can become more inviting, less intimidating and safer in the evening hours.
Low-voltage systems can be installed at focal points like walks, steps or trees
to bathe an area with soft light.
It seems that in the 21st
Century, the options available for making your patio to make an enjoyable "extra
room" are almost endless.