What is a gracious home without its outdoor space properly laid out and designed to increase the amount of curb appeal for maximum effect? Your home should have beauty inside and out and these facets of your home should be done by a professional to create a cohesive style that begins when you or your guests pull up in the driveway and continues through the entire house.
A great outdoor space needs a great patio, a space where friends gather sipping tropical drinks while the steaks sizzle on the grill. Now all you have to do is choose your materials (budget friendly or high-end) and layout and get to work.
There are dozens of materials that can be used and the sky’s the limit for the design:
Concrete – Concrete is a favorite patio material, but it’s very plain and pedestrian. However, concrete as a design element has come a long way and there are ways to jazz it up a bit. You can stain it to add some color, stamp it to add a pattern, or add some exposed rocks. Concrete is the least expensive option for a hard surface.
Stone – Using natural stone on a patio is a beautiful option that blends into the landscape and there are many options, such as flagstone, slate, and limestone. This is a bit more expensive because of the labor costs to mine and transport it, and laying the stone takes more time as each stone must be leveled by hand during installation. Brick – Brick makes a beautiful patio for a classic look, but it does require more upkeep because it is permeable and over time will crack and need replacing, and in shady areas moss will grow and need to be removed.
Pavers – Pavers are a great option for a patio and offer a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes. Since pavers are all the same thickness, they are easier to install and they work well with any home design.
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Decking materials have come a long way. In the past the only choice was wood, with a few varieties; however, today you can choose from several other types of materials including manufactured imitation wood for easier maintenance.
Wood – Pressure treated wood is still a popular choice with homeowners and is relatively inexpensive; however, it does require regular upkeep to prevent weather damage.
Composite – Composite decking material is made from wood fibers and recycled plastic and there are many styles available and it is virtually maintenance-free, since it won’t rot or warp.
Aluminum – Aluminum decking is the most expensive option but also the most durable and should never need replacing. Cost runs around $9 per linear foot.
Other Woods – Other wood options are redwood, cedar, or ipe. They are naturally resistant to warping and cracking, and make a beautiful deck, but also cost a great deal more than traditional wood. Ipe is dense and resists damage and is the best-looking option, but at three times the cost of pressure treated lumber it can be cost prohibitive.
Railings, Lighting, and Location – Deck location can go far beyond the back door, and custom railings and added lighting can elevate the simple deck into a masterpiece.
Consider a rooftop beach deck, open to the sand and surf for sunbathing or watching the sun go down, a balcony deck on the first floor roof of a two story home, or a magnificent poolside nirvana on the roof of the bath house with a sweeping staircase, built in step lights and a pergola for the roof.
It has been said that “good fences make good neighbors,” but they can also make good design. Fences aren’t just for function purposes they can also highlight and complement great landscaping.
Vinyl – Vinyl fences, although more expensive to build, have become a popular fencing material for its longevity and low-maintenance. There are many designs to choose from including complete privacy, semi-privacy, and post and rail fences.
Wrought Iron – In colonial times, once factory manufactured fencing made wrought iron fences readily available it became a design feature in most homes. Today decorative wrought iron offers a variety of designs from the elaborate to the traditional and is made from tubular metal for a lighter weight.
Outdoor Walls – Fences aren’t just for making boundaries; they can be used in many places in the landscape to function as a partition, much like the walls inside the home. Popular placement of outdoor walls is around pools or a garden, but can also highlight a landscape feature. Fences also can add privacy and security for your home. Many use entrance gates for heightened security in combination with gate codes and/or video cameras.
Gates – Depending on the extent of the fence, installing gates to make access easier or to add visual appeal is a time-tested architectural feature. Add some windows, with or without shutters that can be closed.
White Picket – One of the most famous and time-honored fence designs is the white picket fence. It does need some maintenance in the form of scraping and painting, or it can be done in vinyl for the classic look without all the work.
Your home is arguably the biggest investment you will ever make and where you will focus your energies both indoors and out to set the stage for your life, making memories with friends and family. Now that’s something money can’t buy.
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