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  • Neyir Urminsky

You're digging how large a patio.....

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

The ORC is a wonderful event that anyone can participate in, the challenge lies in completing a space within 8 weeks. Please be sure to check out the other guest participants. See my earlier posts on our DIY patio here and my other previous projects here; A boys room for 3, Family friendly beautiful vestibule.

It is no secret that I love a beautiful space, a place, a room that inspires, that relaxes, that extends an invitation to enter. Conversely I believe a space that does not function, that just looks pretty but doesn’t serve the people who use it fundamentally lacks soul. Our homes should nourish & serve us, spaces we don’t or can't use or that increase our frustration and stress is the antithesis of home!

Throughout the planning process for our diy patio this was one of my fav inspo shots that I kept coming back to.

Like I said in my last post our backyard was soul sucking, I hated to be in it and certainly didn’t want to invite anyone else into the experience! Yes it was overgrown, yes we didn’t have anywhere to sit but it was more than that. It was full of pain points;

  1. Our yard is a rectangle attached to our house on the long side. The deck made the yard feel much narrower than it was.

  2. The stairs coming down from the deck were too steep and so far from the door that we instead went out the front door & around the house.

  3. The trampoline location was fixed but with the stairs it basically cut the yard into 2 parts that you couldn’t move between.

  4. The overgrown paved patio we discovered was on the shady side of the yard where we didn’t want to sit and it was too small.

  5. Years of neglect and large tree roots had made the grass and yard very uneven and unpleasant.

The image below will give you a better sense of how this all laid out.

As I said last week, we realised fairly quickly that extending the deck wasn’t going to be the way to go. It would end up taking up soooo much of our yard & where we live contracting out a deck is super, super expensive. The main floor of our house is also the second floor and I didn’t love the idea of family meals up in the air in full view of all our neighbours ;-). Being on a patio seemed like a much better noise containment option for my exuberant boys!

So once we established we wanted a patio we needed to figure out what size to install.

I always consider outside spaces the same way I consider inside rooms;

  1. What is the function - how do we use it, for whom and for what

  2. How do we move through the space, where are the natural corridors and impingement points (like the stairs cutting off access to the other side of the yard in our old lay out). Where do the corridors need to go to & from

  3. What fixed elements are there?

  4. What furniture do I need?

Did you notice how far down the list we got before we got to furniture layouts? I always want to start with the pretty parts, the colours and fabrics, the furniture and lights but I have learned the very hard way that you need to start with steps 1 to 3 first!

This is the lay out that we landed on, I’ll chat a little more below about how and why we developed this plan.

We knew we wanted a space for our entire family & other families to eat and hang out. We wanted a dining area and lounge area in the sun and for the trampoline to feel more integrated but not cut off the other half of the yard.

It became apparent pretty quickly that to achieve those goals we needed to address one of the fixed elements, we couldn’t move the trampoline or change our yard’s exposure. The solution of moving the stairs and bringing down half the deck also solved a massive pain point of mine inside the house which was that through 3 windows all I could see was the ugly deck railing!

Changing the deck layout also streamlined the corridors allowing us to bring the BBQ up on the deck, right by the sliding door and right by the new stairs. That gave us a clear corridor to get food outside to the dining area naturally passing the BBQ on the way.

We wanted all of the main living areas to be on the right side which has sun nearly the entire day but we also wanted space for vegetable and flower gardens.

Perimeter raised beds gave us lots of space to plant without sacrificing patio space.

Finally I measured out the maximum size of dining table and lounge furniture we would likely want. Using the end of the new streamlined deck as a natural ending point for the new patio we ended up with a size of 18 x 21 feet plus the path from the gate. We deliberately took out all the grass on this side of the yard, the last thing we wanted was 2 square feet of grass that had to be mowed in a random corner.

So this is the layout that we landed on and have started to put into practice. We got the deck reduced this week and the change is palpable! It is soooo easy to come out into the yard now and we are all excited to be there. Now we just have to figure out how to build a railing for our newly installed stairs!

When we started digging the patio I think our neighbours were pretty concerned......

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