By Tania Henvey
Patios are becoming increasingly chic, as countless individuals opt for various shapes, sizes, and colours in lieu of a plain, wooden deck. Patios draw much from their Roman roots, but are indicative of medieval Spanish architecture.
"Patios constitute an important aspect of landscapes; an appealing patio can certainly add value to a home. By creating an outdoor room that is functionally effective for entertaining or relaxation, lifestyle is expanded and enriched," says Shawn Lepp, a real estate agent with Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd. in Toronto. "A well presented patio offers an extension to the home and contributes to a buyer's first impression of the property."
When planning a patio, it is important to remember the visual aspects of the area in which the patio is situated. Although some homeowners are fortunate enough to have a ravine or park view in their backyard, many face onto an adjacent structure. In a situation such as this, it is important to design a patio that directs the eyes toward the back of the house where landscaping or the addition of a fountain or
pond can create a relaxing atmosphere.
So what is the best material to use? Although concrete and stone are becoming increasingly popular, there are some materials that are generally preferred.
"The use of interlocking or concrete pavers is the most popular option to enhance patio space," says Lepp. "When interlock is installed at the front of the property, it adds great curb appeal, and creates a good first impression."
Some of the more popular choices for patios include interlock, concrete, flagstone, and tiles. Although stone is becoming a popular choice, many prefer to use it as a walkway with stepping stones.
The size of the patio is important as well. For those who enjoy entertaining, anywhere from 400 to 500 square feet is a good size. One of the best ways to measure the appropriate square footage is to first purchase the outdoor furniture. Once the style has been established, have the furniture delivered to the home and place it on the lawn, marking out the area required.
"Furniture groupings for conversation areas should not interrupt the flow of the remaining outdoor areas," says Lepp. "When showing a property to a prospective buyer, an appealing patio adds to the overall impression and décor of the home."
It is important to have at least 16 inches of space at the side and back of each piece in order to provide room to move around freely. As a rule, just remember that there is never too much additional space on a patio.
Since patios are such hot commodities, what other trends are really heating up the real estate market?
"Outdoor kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. As summer nights are longer and the weather is warmer, creating an outdoor space that allows you to entertain, to spend time with your family, or just to unwind after a long day is a great way to expand the overall living area," explains Lepp. "The trend is tending to move towards larger and more unique designs that can be integrated with gardens, plants, and appropriate furnishings, both in the front and back of the home."
An outdoor kitchen makes entertaining easier, as there is no need to keep running into the main eating area to gather items. Some homes simply include a storage cabinet outdoors, which includes cooking utensils and other essential items.Others are more elaborate and involve a full kitchen, including a grill, fridge, and sink. No matter what the size, it is a great way to add an extra room to the home.