A backyard patio area has never been more desirable as we seek ways to find entertainment and relaxation at home. In HomeLight’s Top Agent Insight Report for Q3 2020, top agents stated “a desire to make their home a sanctuary and retreat from the world” as their clients’ top motivation to remodel this summer, predicting a rising trend in patios, balconies, and other alfresco seating areas post-coronavirus.
“We’re seeing a large increase in this project this year for a couple of reasons. One certainly is COVID—that’s changed a lot of people’s way of living. I think the other thing too is that homeowners want more space but they often can’t afford a larger home,” comments top real estate Julie Warzecka, noting a spike in demand for finished backyard patios in her market in Springfield, MA, where she sells 79% more single-family homes than the average agent.
“Decks and patios have a steady 75% return on investment. So it’s something that, not only are you going to be able to have that value of your own quality of life and enjoyment, but when you go to sell, you’re gonna be getting a huge chunk of that money back.”
Find inspiration for your backyard paradise with these 8 patio ideas for every budget. Whether you’re planning a vibrant entertaining space or a relaxing oasis, we’ll walk you through how to design a patio that brings you joy today and a higher home sale tomorrow.
Extended outdoor entertainment space
This backyard patio directly adjacent to the indoor living space is perfect for entertaining. As a host, you can carry food and libations between the kitchen and backyard with ease. When larger gatherings resume, guests can flow through the ground floor for a unified experience.
“Coordinate your color palette and overall design from inside to out. If your family room and kitchen areas are all neutral, keep your outdoor main furniture pieces neutral and add pops of color with fun accent pillows or a fun area rug,” advises award-winning interior designer Pamela Harvey, whose work is featured in House Beautiful, Southern Home, and Home & Design.
For even greater indoor-outdoor flow, install retractable glass walls or large double glass doors on the wall between your patio and interior. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a sliding glass wall ranges between $1,070 and $2,900, while folding glass walls cost between $800 and $1,200 per linear square foot before installation. A grand entrance to the patio improves functionality and creates a more luxurious atmosphere for your guests and future buyers when it’s time to sell.
All-out exterior kitchen
Grillmasters and amateur chefs alike appreciate a fully functional outdoor kitchen, decked out with stainless steel appliances and a pizza oven. In a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), architects reported that outdoor kitchens were a top requested feature among clients, with more than half of those surveyed reporting a noticeable increase in requests over the past two years. In addition to summer memories, homeowners who add an outdoor cooking space can expect a 71% return on investment, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
“I always recommend planning your outdoor kitchen just like the kitchen in your home. Consider the flow through the space and allow for plenty of storage and workspace,” shares Tracy Morris, a high-end interior designer with 10 years of experience creating custom exterior spaces in Washington, D.C., and South Florida.
“One thing I always incorporate is a beverage fridge drawer and an ice maker,” Morris adds. “It’s a perfect area for entertaining as well as for daily use when kids are outdoors playing so you can easily grab a cold drink and some ice anytime without having to go into the house.”
Dreamy pergola in a garden sanctuary
Positioned farther from the house, this whimsical outdoor living space by FormLA Landscaping serves as an intimate retreat for reading and relaxation. A white pergola overhead with surrounding brick retaining walls defines the space, while the hedge behind adds greenery and privacy.
For homeowners looking for an affordable way to achieve this look, lead designer Isara Ongwiseth of FormLA Landscaping recommends using gravel as your patio material:
“Gravel is an incredibly affordable material. While decomposed granite takes more skill to install, its cost is also low. The return on investment of both choices goes beyond low upfront costs. In Los Angeles’ Mediterranean climate where it is essential to save water, infiltrate stormwater, and prevent heat islands, they perform much better than concrete. Also, aesthetically, it is softer on the eye and more inviting.”
Tie your garden oasis back to the house with a curved pathway with natural stone or concrete pavers embedded in gravel or moss. Border the pathway with ornamental grasses for added dimension, along with solar lanterns to light the way at night.
Luxurious outdoor living room ensconced in stone
A mostly enclosed outdoor living room allows for generous three-season use in colder climates. Thick stone covered walls on three sides help trap the heat emitted by the elegant wood-burning fireplace, while an overhead fan provides airflow on hot summer days.
To get this luxurious look, expect to shell out $3,900 to $15,000 for a 300-square-foot natural stone patio, with the total cost including materials and labor as estimated by HomeAdvisor. For the walls, solid stone siding costs an average of $42 per square foot, though the sky’s the limit when you venture into rarer materials.
When evaluating your backyard patio budget, Warzecka tells homeowners to stay cognizant of their neighborhood norms to avoid pricing your home out of the neighborhood:
“If there are other houses in the neighborhood that have similar upscale, upgraded backyards, go ahead. You’re okay putting that money in and expecting a good return on it. If you’re in a neighborhood of very small, simple homes without those kinds of luxury backyards, just know that you may still want to do it because you’ll get that enjoyment out of it and that quality of life, but you may not see as much of a return on your money.”
Petite patio on a budget
You don’t need a massive budget or extensive backyard to design a sophisticated patio for entertaining family and friends. Start with a cost-effective flooring material such as gravel (averaging $1.25 to $1.80 per square foot) or concrete (averaging $3 to $15 per square foot). For a more natural look, stamped concrete mimics stone and brick at a lower price.
Build a counter wide enough to accommodate a built-in grill and small prep area. Fixr pins the average cost of outdoor cabinets between $3,360 and $5,070, plus an added $1,000 and $15,000 depending on the grill.
Poolside lounge with firepit
“Firepits are pretty popular because of the ambiance, and of course the warmth as we go into the fall months. They always bring up this nostalgic sense of community and shared time together,” shares Curry, who has designed backyards across the country from the Hamptons to Los Angeles.
In NAR’s Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features, surveyed realtors estimated that adding a natural stone gas fire pit recoups an average 67% return on investment. Gas firepits and wood-burning firepits each come with unique pros and cons; for instance, gas firepits are easier to clean and lower maintenance, while wood-burning firepits emit more heat along with the satisfying crackling sound.
Spacious, shaded gazebo
When designing a backyard patio, consider how climate and orientation will impact comfort. This large gazebo with remote-controlled PowerShades provides customizable shade throughout the day.
A custom screened gazebo costs between $4,000 to $12,500 according to Fixr. Homeowners on a budget can purchase a prefab gazebo for about $300 to $1,500 from retailers like Target, Wayfair, and HomeDepot.
Beyond shade, you can keep your gazebo extra cool with a stylish ceiling fan and overhead misters. To enjoy this space in colder months, install built-in heaters or roll in a portable heater when needed.
Glamorous outdoor dining area
A stylish outdoor dining room provides a refreshing alternative to indoor seating for social gatherings and everyday family meals. For a lasting design, Curry recommends that homeowners invest in the best quality outdoor furniture they can afford, especially for key pieces such as the dining table. Once you establish key pieces, bring life to the space with a mix of accessories:
“Styling can really add, especially when you’re doing something on a budget and you want to keep everything clean and streamlined and not a lot of details,” shares Curry. “Maybe you have a beautiful table runner that you put out for guests. Maybe you have some beautiful baskets that go around that have rolled towels or some vases you put out with fresh flowers.”
Mix and match these backyard patio ideas for a truly custom design
Take your time planning your backyard patio to best meet your needs and personal taste. A little investment into this space goes a long way, bringing you new memories with family and friends and a solid return on investment when you go to sell.
Header Image Source: (tabitha turner / Unsplash)