By Ann Robinson & Annie V. Schwemmer


Last week we discussed planning a patio remodel. Now that the basics of function, location and size are out of the way, it’s time to talk about details. The more attention you give to the details of your outdoor living space, the more you will use it.

Creating the mood

This patio showcases design details such as privacy, shade, texture and patio furniture scale.  Patio design

Annie Schwemmer, Renovation Design Group

Just as your home has a personality, so should your outdoor spaces. There should be a focal point in the outdoor décor. There is a wide range of what you can choose as your focal point. A fabulous view of the city or mountains is always nice, but not all of us are so lucky. Alternately, the focal point can be as simple as a fire pit or as lavish as a man-made stream with its own bridge and fountain. Adding water features is an easy way to add that feng shui vibe to help your outdoor space help rejuvenate and relax you.

The details of the patio décor should be interesting and appealing. Add a dash of color with painted benches or fun throw pillows. Today there is a great selection of outdoor fabrics that hold up well and can help you add color galore. Adding texture will also create interest in your space. For example, bamboo curtains, lattice or wrought iron all produce interesting moods. While bamboo gives you an ocean-side retreat feeling, lattice or wrought iron bring a cottage, secret garden ambiance.


Deck and patio lighting is an important detail in crafting the feeling of your space. Good lighting will also enhance safety and home security. Embedded lights in stepping stones and stairs will create interest and make your patio safer. Landscape lighting can also greatly enhance your space. If you are worried about adding to your electricity bill, there are many beautiful styles and options in solar lighting. A fully charged solar fixture can run for up to 15 hours. Another plus with individual solar lights is that you don’t have to worry about wires. There are also low-voltage, energy-efficient options equipped with motion sensors for security purposes.

Consider privacy

In creating your perfect patio, you should consider privacy. Even if your patio is made for entertaining, you probably don’t want it visible from the street. While there is always the option to build a fence, that may not work with the atmosphere you are trying to create. Another option is to use landscaping for privacy by incorporating hedges and shrubbery. Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), juniper (Juniperus) and arborvitaes will all help create a tasteful screen. If you need something taller, try planting hedges in raised beds or planting a few strategic trees, like a dwarf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum).

Of course, if you can’t afford to wait for hedges and trees to grow, consider adding a trellis or prefabricated vinyl divider to your patio. These screens are available ready-made or in do-it-yourself kits that go together easily. You can also build one yourself from wood slats. If a trellis still allows too much visibility, add climbing vines like clematis, ivy or wisteria. Vines offer thick coverage that will conceal your patio activities while adding some color and texture to the landscape.

Patio furniture

Patio furniture makes up such a huge part of your outdoor room that it is hard to call it a detail. The style of your patio furniture will impact the overall aesthetics of your outdoor space, as well as supporting the functions you have determined for the space. Make sure that the size and scale makes sense. A wicker couch that is too big for the patio will make the space feel cramped and uncomfortable.


The location and sun exposure of your deck or patio will obviously impact your shading needs. Consider this when choosing a sun shade. Whether you choose umbrellas, sails, screens or retractable awnings, your sun shade should be functional and enhance the style of your outdoor room. Trees are also great sun shades if they are not too messy.

The trick to any remodeling project is to plan ahead and think through the details. The details truly do make the whole project add up to more than the sum of its parts. Have fun and happy outdoor renovating season!

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at Send comments or questions to

Renovation Solutions: Planning the details of your patio design