Homes & Design Photo Credit: Western Living

Expert Advice: How to Design the Perfect Patio

Outdoor design and lifestyle expert Carson Arthur shares his top five patio design secrets.

That time of year we’ve been dreaming of is finally upon us: Spring! At the first hint of sunlight, we turned to outdoor design expert Carson Arthur to get his advice for transforming our outdoor space now that patio season is upon us.

Carson Arthur has teamed up with treated wood company MicroPro Sienna to share tips on creating privacy in B.C. backyards.

1. Make Your Space More Private

Privacy is a big deal for many homeowners, especially in high density areas, but it’s still possible to create an outdoor sanctuary without compromising. “First, sit in the space to see what people can see and where they can see from—overhead space is a big thing,” says Arthur. He suggests using a pergola to create visual distraction; though it isn’t a full cover, you still have the feeling of privacy.

Arthur says the biggest mistake people make is choosing plants (cedar hedges, evergreens) to make their space private. “They take forever to grow and evergreens are small on the bottom and empty in the middle, leaving a huge gap,” he explains. Privacy screens are another viable option: the closer panels or privacy screens are to your space, the less neighbours can see.

2. Find the Right Furniture

“Before you purchase furniture, grab a friend and a tape measure. Get your friend to sit in the chair and see how much space they need, then measure how much space the table will need when they’re using it,” says Arthur. “We like our big furniture in Canada, but we don’t think about how much space we actually need.” Store displays tuck patio chairs under the tables so you can’t tell how big they are, then when you take it home “you realize you need more space than you have,” he explains. Allow an extra three feet of space around your barbecue for safety—and so no one is too hot or stuck with smoke in their face.

The material of furniture is also important: “Aluminum works best in the Canadian climate. More and more furniture can be left out all year,” he says. “Use a magnet [to test whether it can be left out]: if it sticks the furniture will rust because it contains iron.”

3. Keep it Cool

The easiest way to cool down your patio? “Use a carpet,” says Arthur. Many people choose patio stones, but the sun heats them up and they act as an oven during the evening. “An outdoor, weather-resistant carpet will keep the surface cool to the touch,” he says.

4. Add Some Colour

To add colour, Arthur recommends you get green plants and colourful planters. Another option is getting colourful accent pieces for your furniture. “If you want to work with colour, use other accent pieces like umbrellas and cushions,” he adds. Keeping furniture colours neutral means minor changes with colourful cushions are easier and more cost-effective.

5. Watch Your Green Footprint

Arthur is noticing many homeowners are choosing to take away grass, adding rocks as low maintenance options for their outdoor space. “Add trees instead, and be aware of taking out plants which absorb CO2 from your yard—and remember to replace that with other greens,” he explains.

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