Posted by: jeb1 | July 19, 2012

Remodel Your Porch/Patio with Up To The Minute Style

The lingering recession isn’t stopping Ark-La-Tex homeowners from decking out their decks and patios with the latest, greatest grills, furniture and water features.

It makes sense, after all, to invest in your home if you are spending more time there and less money taking vacations and eating in restaurants.

Here are 10 upgrades that could make your patio your favorite room at home:

Lighting. You can choose from an impressive array of low-voltage patio and deck lights that are as eye-catching during the light of day as they are after dark. Still, place beauty behind function. Place your lights near stairways, steps, deck edges and on railing posts to help you and your guests navigate the area safely once the sun goes down. Be sure to shed plenty of light on your cooking and dining areas.

Fire features. Fire pits and fireplaces are becoming must-haves for ambience and warmth on chilly spring and fall evenings. Save on your outdoor fireplace or barbecue by installing a pre-fabricated version that looks just as nice as custom-built. Stone-look fireplaces and outdoor ovens come in kits that allow you to install them in just a couple of hours.

A powerhouse grill. Almost every deck has a grill. You can opt for a built-in version or save a few bucks with a portable, store-bought barbecue. Prices range from around $100 for a kettle-style charcoal grill to $4,200 for a top-of-the-line gas grill with an infra-red burner and double side burners. A tip: Choose a model with plenty of space for food prep.

Extra seating. Build in some benches, add perimeter walls around the patio that are sturdy enough to sit on and pick out an outdoor “living room” set -a couch, chairs and coffee table – built to withstand sun, heat and rain.

Water elements. Decorative water elements like ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, hot tubs and swimming pools have become extra-popular with “staycationing” homeowners who are using their patios more often.

Carefree landscaping. Choose low-maintenance landscaping, including native plants that need little or no watering, so that you can spend your weekends enjoying your patio and yard rather than working in it. Choose a material like pavers for your patio floor and you won’t need to spend time and money sealing it. For decks, consider composite boards that never need painting.

Water and energy savers. Native, drought-tolerant plants will help you save water and so will a drip irrigation system that targets just the plants that need a drink.

Also, permeable pavers allow rain water to filter through to the ground instead of running off into the street; solar-powered or LED patio lights are energy-savers; and recycled materials are an environmentally sound choice for benches and the patio floor.

Shade. Without shade, you won’t be able to use your patio during the hot summer days. Add an awning, put up a pergola or plant some leafy trees around your outdoor room to block the heat and the sun.

Wireless devices. You’ll use your patio more often if you can watch TV and surf the Internet outdoors. Upgrade your indoor modem to a wireless system so you can get a signal on your laptop or Kindle while you’re sitting outside. Consider investing in a TV or theater system made from durable materials and designed with safety features that make it suitable for outdoor use.

A fence. Enclose your backyard oasis and protect your privacy by building a fence or wall around your yard or patio that will keep prying eyes and curious animals from intruding on your open-air refuge. The “walls” you create will make the patio feel more like another room of your house. A tip: Don’t block your view with a wall that’s too tall or a post in your line of sight from your favorite chaise lounge.

Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. Call 318-865-4914 or visit

Make sure to check out our column EVERY THURSDAY in the Shreveport Times!

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