Make your patio an extension of your home

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published May 3, 2017

 Changing cushions or adding pillows can freshen up a patio’s look.

Changing cushions or adding pillows can freshen up a patio’s look.

Shutterstock image


METRO DETROIT — It’s time to put away your winter jacket, throw on a T-shirt and relax in your backyard.

The patio market is thriving this time of year, especially in Michigan. Following months of hot and cold temperatures, massive rain events and dreaded hailstorms, the days are lasting longer and the sun is calling everyone to go outside.

Corie Conroy, an interior decorator and president of First Impression Home Staging & Interior Design in Bloomfield Hills, said being a Michigander has its perks — notably when the temperature heats up.

She identified five patio trends for 2017 that can improve homeowners’ outdoor living spaces: furniture that transitions smoothly from inside a home to the outdoor patio, which includes chaise lounges, sofas and sling chairs; vibrant colors, with a focus on coastal blues and lively greens; accessories, such as string lighting and lanterns, or even adding an outdoor mirror to reflect a blooming garden; woven furniture that adds texture and can be combined with other furniture styles; and creating an outdoor living room for entertaining guests.

Colleen Murphy, owner of Waterford-based landscaping company Murphy & Associates, said patios should act as an additional room of a house and accent the architectural design features. If size is adequate, that might include adding a hot tub, outdoor kitchen, fire pit or fireplace.

She said outdoor kitchens with amenities including sinks, refrigerators and storage have become all the rage the past few years.

“I think that once you’re outside, it’s nice to have those features readily available. … The (patio) market is pretty big because most people like to be able to stay home and entertain and just enjoy their yard,” Murphy said. “It’s a part of where we live now. Everyone wants a nice outdoor space and not get in the car and go somewhere else.”

Denyse Tzavellas, owner of Denyse & Co. and Nitsa’s Draperies & Interiors in Grosse Pointe Woods, said many folks start sprucing up their outdoor situations themselves come April. However, she warned not to wait too long because contractors and landscapers get slammed — with some being busy until June or July.

She said Michiganders seek an “up north” feel to entertain family and guests.

A three-season room is part of that, essentially offering homeowners a screened-in porch that lets the breeze flow through — all while missing out on annoying summer insects.

Another improvement includes adding floras, such as potted plants of different varieties. Tzavellas suggested planting perennials instead of annuals due to less upkeep, and she recently decorated a home with a palm tree to produce a more tropical setting.

“It’s all about budget,” Tzavellas said. “It’s what you can afford, so you have to work accordingly. You give a pro a budget and they’ll guide you along. Or maybe they’ll say it will be done in two to three stages, focusing on one stage per year.

“People in Michigan get so excited that spring has sprung. Even restaurants are building an outdoor patio.”

For those who want to build a brick patio themselves, Murphy advised calling a professional due to the extensive nature of the equipment and the job being labor intensive. She called it “money well spent” because the product will last longer and look better.

“Just like anything, there’s a lot more than meets the eye,” Murphy said. “HGTV makes it look easier than it is.”

Subtle changes can also lead to a chic outcome, she said, such as adding an outdoor minibar or changing cushions on existing patio furniture.

Conroy said all the factors — weather, cost, shorter seasons — have led to a booming patio market. Even though flowers may not yet be in full bloom, someone is doing work on something, somewhere.

“I think people in Michigan are anxious to get outside because they had such a long winter,” Conroy said. “We have such a short season, so when you put that fire pit in and those outdoor heaters, you want to make them (patios) as comfortable as possible, because we have such a short time to enjoy them.”