Friday, November 11, 2011

Backyard Patio Trends for 2012

Since the economic downturn in 2008, the home has become an increasingly popular entertainment venue. Families have replaced expensive vacations and outings to restaurants and bars, with more intimate and economical outdoor gatherings and barbecues. With this shift, the patio and backyard space has become increasingly important and many families choose to strategically invest in their outdoor space for maximum enjoyment and home value. Many families have been pleasantly surprised to find that an enhanced patio and yard space significantly improves overall quality of life.

If you are looking to upgrade your outdoor entertainment space this year, the following are the top 5 backyard patio trends for 2012.

1. The Backyard as Destination

Rather than sinking money into expensive vacations, many home owners are making their backyard space a destination in its own right, by installing water features, sculpted pools with water slides, outdoors kitchens and luxurious garden accents such as bridges and porticoes. When making your yard a destination, it is important to first decide what sort of environment is compatible with your climate and of course what sort of space appeals to you and your family. From Japanese Zen gardens to a Miami-circa-1960 retreat, there are a number of wonderful themes that you can utilize in your yard in stunning and surprisingly affordable ways. The trick is careful planning and resourcefulness.

2. Embracing the Natural World

Part of the recent cultural shift is a return to meaningful connectedness and simplification. This includes a conspicuous move towards embracing nature and environmentalism - a shift that is decidedly reflected in the modern American yard. Many American home owners are opting for a more natural looking outdoor space… a space that is less manicured and decidedly lush… perhaps even a little wild.

Patios are using more natural looking materials such as slate, rock and gravel. Likewise, more families are choosing to incorporate edible vegetation into their spaces, from garden herbs and vegetable patches to fruit or olive trees. Some particularly committed individuals have even started raising chickens, complete with decorative coops! The result is a charming space that has a comforting agricultural feel.

3. Strategic Patio Sculpting

Patios are taking on very unique shapes these days, with two extremes being the most popular: sharp mid-century lines ala Mad Men and more organic, gently curving spaces that blend into their natural environment. If you choose to do mid-century chic, choose patio furniture and features that complement that area. Remember that traveling to Miami and Cuba was all the rage in the 50’s and early 60’s, so these sorts of accents can be very fun additions. Check out local second hand stores for fun era-appropriate ceramics, which will add a lot of personality for a very small cash investment. If the ceramics appear a bit beat-up, feel free to spray paint them super bright or metallic colors, an easy trick that gives old pieces a new life for less than $3.

If you prefer a more curvaceous, organic layout, it is important to focus on ways to have the space spill into the natural space effortlessly. Use a variety of small potted plants to blend hard lines and add texture. Incorporate outdoor patio products that have an elemental feel, such as water features or outdoor fire pits and chimineas. Choose patio furniture in materials that jibe with the natural tone, such as teak.

A very easy and inexpensive third option blends the two before-mentioned styles. Instead of a solid patio area, use a number of large square pavers to define the patio space. These pavers will allow grass, moss or gravel to poke through, merging the very structured mid-century aesthetic with a more naturalistic feel, giving you the best of both worlds!

4. A Hidden Patio Location

Not long ago, the patio was always located immediately outside your back door. This is no longer the case. Many home owners are choosing to create "getaway patios" slightly removed from the house, creating a sort of escape destination from the home. These types of patios can exist as small islands in a shady nook of the garden, or be connected to the home with a charming pathway. In some cases, home owners actually screen the area or strategically place plants or water features so that the space is shielded from view and truly feels remote.

5. Incorporating Patio Shelters

Since we are spending more time outdoors it makes sense that we are also incorporating shelters into the space, including gazebos, pergolas, arbors, canopies and even cabanas or small cabins. A sheltered area will extend the use of your patio space, providing shade in the hot months and head cover in the cooler or wetter months. The structure you choose will depend on your climate, personal needs, outdoor space and overall budget. If you live in a cooler climate, and do not have the space for a cabana or cabin feature, consider outfitting your space with outdoor patio heaters that will keep everyone warm and comfortable in the cooler months.

About the Author: Derrick Riley is a Managing Partner at Patio Products USA, a subsidiary of Neighbors Marketing specializing in patio products and accessories for the home and commercial use. Patio Products USA is one North America’s largest distributors of products to improve outdoor entertaining, including a wide selection of patio furniture covers, patio fire pits and garden patio heaters

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