Around mid-winter, most of us begin pining for that casual, outdoor lifestyle that comes back with the sunshine and warm temperatures. While that's not a reality many of us can enjoy quite yet, this is a great time to start planning those patio upgrades that will make lounging in the sunshine as cool and comfortable as we imagine.
Start by doing everything you can to bring the outdoors in with upgrades like larger windows, French doors, and window coverings such as Roman shades or plantation shutters that allow you to maximize light and sight lines. Then start planning how to bring the indoors out with patio furniture that's sturdy and stylish enough to entice you out to the patio.
One of the most effective ways to add the perception of square footage to your home is to form an outdoor living space. To create that illusion, a patio cover is key. It adds months of access to your new outdoor space, and really helps to protect that new furniture.
There are many patio-cover options these days, and the right choice for you is dependent on what your outdoor lifestyle is really like.
Here are six great options to get you daydreaming about the sunny days to come:
Solid Shingles:This solid choice is just that-solid. Solid patio covers built as a simple addition over the patio use the same shingles the roof does and deliver a polished version of an outdoor living space. Gabled construction adds an architectural element to the home's exterior, lending style and value. Solid patio covers are ideal if you entertain outdoors often or take family meals on the patio fairly regularly. If winter storage of your patio furniture is an issue, a solid patio cover is a great choice.
Solid Metal:All the same benefits apply here, but where the solid shingle look is great for more traditional architecture, we love the sophisticated look that a painted metal top can bring to a more contemporary or transitional home. It creates a real opportunity to expand square footage using fabrics, rugs and furnishings that look like they may belong inside. Thanks to the advancements in indoor/outdoor furnishings and materials, you can maintain the same palette on the patio that you have going on in your interior space.
Solar Panels:Trending these days are eco-chic solar panel patio covers that let in a little light, but also collect energy. This obviously offers the most tangible return on your investment from the energy savings alone, but the forward thinking and contemporary styling are a definite upgrade when it comes time to sell your home.
Lattice:The open lattice look doesn't offer all the cover of some other options, but the filtered sunshine and the chance to add a little green to the architecture with a climbing vine are almost instantly soothing. You can actually purchase open lattice patio covers already constructed in wood or aluminum. Make sure to opt for the aluminum if you're considering that climbing vine. Otherwise, prepare for a bit more maintenance or to embrace a "weathered wood" aesthetic.
Retractable:Our current favorite, retractable patio covers bring all the casual style of the open-lattice or pergola look along with some of the comfort and protection of a solid cover. The option to choose the fabric, pattern and color lets you take a little more control over the styling. A quick pull lets the sunshine in, and another gives you a little shade when the temperature climbs-versatility at your fingertips.
Shade sails:These are another great choice for more casual and contemporary outdoor spaces. They also let you bring in a playful splash of color to brighten up the garden area. Best of all, they're super flexible-you can easily move them with the path of the sun, or to different areas of your outdoor space. It all depends on your mood, livability and entertaining needs.
Are you considering one of these patio cover options? What are your top priorities in an outdoor living space?
Kerrie Kelly is the author of the DIY design book Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide. Kerrie is an award-winning interior designer who writes on outdoor décor for Home Depot. Home Depot's large selection of windows, including those for a patio, can be found at www.homedepot.com/b/Doors-Windows/N-5yc1vZaqih.