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by Jenny Agee-Aldridge
Make the Area Functional
"The big trend now for outdoor design is is to take a space and divide it into several outdoor rooms", says Scott Cohen, president and supervising designer for The Green Scene in Northridge, CA, and author of several books including Patios, Pergolas and Pavilions.
"For entertaining, it's better to have several smaller patios than one large one. When socializing, people tend to break off into smaller groups. This lends itself to that idea."
As with any project, the first step is to gain an understanding of the client's vision.
Patios of the past: Rectangular concrete slabs laid outside a sliding glass door. Today, your clients are more discerning, and you'll increase your chances of winning projects if you offer creative options for designs, placement, and materials.
Materials for each patio don't have to match, just complement one other, as well as the home. "Think about your house. There could be tile in one room and carpet in another," Cohen says. "The materials help define the space." For example, one patio may use clay pavers while the second uses stone. The colors and themes may complement one another, but by laying different materials, each develops its own personality.
Consider The Entire Yard In Your Plan
For patios that include an outdoor kitchen, building close to the house takes advantage of existing gas and electrical sources and shortens the trek between the outdoor and indoor kitchen for optimal meal preparation.
However, don't overlook other areas in the yard for outdoor building. While some clients may use a patio for cooking and entertaining, another may prefer a quiet spot away from the house to escape.