Posted by: jeb1 | March 13, 2012

Creating a Comfortable Backyard

Tips for a Comfortable Back Porch or Patio 

 A porch or patio that overlooks your backyard can add an extra room to your home for entertaining, eating and relaxing. If you build it right, or remodel your existing porch, you can use it year-round.Here’s how:            1. Size-It Right. You’ll need enough room for everything you want to do outdoors on pleasant weekend afternoons and warm evenings. If you plan to cook and eat on the porch, carve out spaces for an outdoor mini-kitchen and a dining table with chairs. If you like to throw parties, make room for guests to both sit and move around. On the other hand, keep the size of the porch in proportion with the size of your house so it looks like it “fits” on your property. A tip: If you like a grassy lawn and landscaping, avoid building a patio so big that it takes up the whole yard.

2. Shed Some Light On It. The latest low-voltage patio and deck lights are as pretty during the day as they are when they’re lit after dark. Plus, they’ll help your guests navigate your porch safely if you install them near stairways and on railing posts. A tip: Shed plenty of light on your cooking and dining areas.

3. Warm it up. To create a four-season porch, opt to put a fire pit, chiminea, fireplace or a a propane-powered patio heater. A tip: Pre-fab stone fireplaces and outdoor ovens look just as nice as custom-built and come in kits that take just a couple of hours to install.

4. Cook On It. Every backyard porch or patio needs a grill. You can spend a little or a lot for anything from a kettle grill to a top-of-the-line gas grill with multiple, high-powered burners. You can even convert your simple back porch into an outdoor kitchen by adding a stainless steel refrigerator, a wine chiller or even a pizza oven. A tip: Look for  outdoor appliances with a safety stamp from Underwriters Laboratories that ensures the appliance is safe to use outdoors.

5. Make It Easy. You’ve got nearly as many choices for your patio floor as you do for the floors inside the house. Low-maintenance concrete styles range from plain slabs to etched and acid-stained in any color. Concrete pavers come in styles that mimic every kind of stone. A tip: Wood floors don’t hold up well under the hot Louisiana sun and require more maintenance than stone and concrete.

6. Cover it. A roof, awning, pergola or even some lush trees around your outdoor room will help block the heat and sun and make it more comfortable during the summer. A tip: Try to match the porch roof to the one on your house so the addition looks like it’s part of the original structure.

7.  Match it. Repeating design elements from the interior rooms to your outdoor room will help the space “flow” from the house as if it were out there all along.  Columns and archways, colors and even built-in elements like countertops and benches can mimic the indoor design and make the outside space feel more like home. A tip: If you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the porch, that kitchen will get a lot of wear and tear. Consider creating an alternative entryway from the house to the patio.

8. Keep it dry. Add gutters to the patio roof to prevent rain runoff from pouring onto your indoor/outdoor furniture, or on you.  A tip: Subtly slope the porch floor so water will run off of it instead of pooling.

9. Wire it. Spending time outdoors while watching college football is an unbeatable combination. Consider investing in a TV or theater system designed with safety features that make it suitable for outdoor use. Hire an electrician to calculate how much electricity and how many outlets you’ll need to power your patio. Think about lighting, appliances, the heater, and the radio, stereo or TV you’ll use outdoors. A tip: Upgrade your indoor modem to a wireless system so you can get a signal on your laptop or iPad while you’re sitting outside.

10.Plan it. Even if you want to build your own patio, get some advice from a pro before you start. A professional remodeler can recommend materials that hold up well outdoors. A lighting specialist can help you create a dramatic scene around your deck or patio.  Plumbers and electricians can install your utilities properly and advise you about which permits you’ll need for the job. Landscape designers can recommend low-maintenance plants.

Jeb Breithaupt has been president of Jeb Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting

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