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Nicer weather is almost upon us. For most of us, that means one thing: it’s almost time to brush off the patio. Whether you intend to use your patio as a space to gather your own peace of mind or a place to entertain family and friends, it should be purposefully designed, just like the rest of your home. With that in mind, we’ve brought you the dos and don’ts of creating the perfect patio. Read them over to learn how to get the most out from your outdoor space.

Arrange your seating into groupings, just like you would in an interior space. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Do: Create seating groups

Similar to interior space, the foundation for any patio needs to be the seating. However, while it may be tempting to simply incorporate as much seating as possible in order to accommodate family and friends, we’d recommend taking a more thoughtful approach. Instead, focus on creating a few distinct seating groups that both look and feel purposeful.

To accomplish this, the first thing you should do is choose a focal point. Where patios are concerned, this is most often a table, whether it’s a dining table or coffee table. That said, if you’d prefer not to take up that much square footage, you can always use an outdoor area rug to ground the space, as shown in the photo above.

Once you have your focal point in place, all you need to do is arrange your furniture around it so that each piece is facing that center point. However, there are a few caveats to this. You’ll also want to make sure that no piece of furniture would leave someone sitting with their back to the rest of the patio. Angle those pieces slightly to open them up. Additionally, take the initiative to make sure there’s plenty of walking room around each grouping.

Round out your design with plenty of accessories. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Don’t: Forget the accessories

One of the chief complaints that people have regarding their patios is that this space has a tendency to be left feeling unfinished. It’s not hard to see how or why this issue occurs. Often, outdoor furniture is plainer in design than its indoor counterparts. After all, it’s meant to have the ability to withstand varying weather patterns. Fortunately,  this problem can be solved fairly easily by adding a few accessories into the mix.

As far as which accessories to pick, you can go as simple or as detailed as you’d like. At a minimum, we’d suggest incorporating a few outdoor throw pillows into the mix. (Make them brightly-colored or patterned for the biggest impact.) Beyond that, you could also ground the space using an outdoor area rug or make a statement by styling your surfaces with candles or blankets, much like in the photo above.

Adding a roof or outdoor fireplace can vastly extend the amount of time during which you can use your patio. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Do: Consider ways to extend your usage

Once you have your furniture and accessories in place, the next thing to take a look at is when you ultimately intend to use the patio. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of assuming that their patio can only really be used in close-to-perfect weather. They think that it’s no longer useful when the weather turns colder or even gets overly hot. However, with a little planning and forethought, there are ways to extend the length of your patio season.

Take the photo above, for instance. If your main goal is to block out the sun and provide some shade, you could give the area a covering. If you’d like to extend your usage into months when the weather gets cooler, consider adding an outdoor fireplace or another heat source into the mix. Alternatively, you could also think about adding a variety of light sources which will enable you to use the space well into the night.

Think about adding options to allow for dining and entertaining. Image: Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

Don’t: Overlook dining options

Last but not least, as you look into putting your perfect patio together, we’d strongly suggest that you consider adding some dining solutions into the mix. Doing so can open up a whole host of entertaining options and, at the same time, make your job as the host much easier. Not to mention that adding a feature like an outdoor kitchen can help to boost the eventual resale value of your home.

At its core, all a patio truly needs is a dining table and, usually, a grill. But if you have the means, why not take things a step further? Give yourself some flexibility in cooking by adding counter space. If you want to take things even further you can add utilities like a sink or refrigerator.