Put the patio concept into perspective. The word “patio” comes to us from Spanish, where it was first used simply to mean an inner courtyard. You don’t have to think of it as an elaborate structure. The important thing is to claim your outdoor space and supplement it with things that will make you comfortable spending time there. Things like: Fancy furniture. Best Fire Hearth & Patio in Colonie has a selection that is a step above the utilitarian stuff you’ll find at big-box stores. Owner and General Manager Lucas Strits-
Small spaces Even if your backyard is little more than a small plot or balcony, you can still increase its outdoor living appeal. Faddegon says indoor plants, which can naturally clear the air inside stuffy apartments, have really exploded in popularity over the past year; plantings in urns and pots are also popular choices for just outside the sliding-glass door. And if you don’t have enough space to do your cooking out there, you can still grow herbs. (See our herb story on page 31 for how to get started.) Faddegon’s carries pots with special pockets that allow a variety of herbs to grow within. That same garden center can serve as a resource for a variety of outdoor challenges, Faddegon says: “Take a picture, bring it in, and we’ll help you out.”
Patio with fire pit and seating. Photo courtesy of #1 Stonescaping.
man deals with domestic manufacturers like Telescope Casual Furniture, based in Granville, which makes pieces that can be customized with a choice of colors, fabrics, frame finishes and the like. Superior shading. Best Fire also offers cantilever umbrellas, which can rotate 360 degrees for perfect placement over a seating group. Retractable awnings and tension shades can also offer a sleek roof aesthetic to cover an existing structure such as a pergola. Supplemental sun. Maybe you’ve tried to heat an outdoor space with a freestanding propane heater. “That’s a losing battle,” says Stritsman. A better option is to install infrared lights that can shine down from overhead, heating objects in their path in much the same way as the sun.
Hire a hardscaper if you need something built from the ground up. David Lawler of #1 Stonescaping in Guilderland says a number of factors go into the cost of a new piece, whether it’s a fire pit, outdoor kitchen countertop or a whole patio. Among the most important is whether a customer opts for natural or precast stone. The latter, made from concrete aggregate, is less expensive and quicker to install; components can be assembled as a kit rather than laid as individual stones requiring painstaking tolerance adjustments. You might also consider: Fabulous fire tables. These are the easiest way to create an outdoor fire, Stritsman explains, as they run on a concealed propane tank, just like a grill, and come in different styles and finishes. Because they use gas instead of wood, they turn on and off with a simple switch. Phase 2 fire pit. A true fire pit offers a far more dramatic design, and although it will be more expensive it can also be part of a longer-term plan. Law55PLUSLIVINGGUIDE.COM