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Because of its convenient location and outdoor living feel, a patio is often seen as an extension of our indoor living space. Whether it's made of stone, brick or concrete, this paved spot is frequently the life of the party, especially when you add a grill, fire pit or fireplace. With an outdoor kitchen and dining set, it can become your favorite eating spot, while an abundance of patio furniture and colorful decor turns it into the perfect sunny lounge. More 
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Patty Lustig - Decor & You
Loudoun County Interior Designer
Best of Houzz 2014
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Since it has so many different functions, planning out your patio is key before you start remodeling. First of all, take time to figure out what material works best for you, and decide whether you want a covered or uncovered spot. Next, determine what amenities are important to you; is an outdoor fireplace essential, or would a smaller scale fire pit work just as well? Finally, much like any other room, decorate the space to ensure that it's welcoming, interesting and colorful.

What materials should I use for my patio?


With an outdoor space, your materials help dictate the overall style and feel, so make sure your patio accurately reflects the style of your home. Stone pavers and terracotta tile are common with mediterranean houses, while brick is most often seen in traditional homes. Concrete works well with most spaces, so it's a great option to use when you're unsure what direction you're heading. After you figure out your foundation, decide whether you want a covered or uncovered space. You can add a pergola, arbor, awning or trellis for some shade, or you can let the sun shine in and go without.

What should I incorporate into my patio?


Even though a patio can just be a paved slab, it can also be much more, if you add the right additions. Fire pits and fireplaces are great for cooler nights, while an outdoor kitchen and bar make it the ideal party spot. Regardless of what you do, a grill and eating spot is a must for al fresco dining, and you need good-quality furniture to truly enjoy even the most basic outdoor space. Depending on your budget, you can even opt for a hot tub and pool, if you don't mind the maintenance.

How should I decorate my patio?


Everything you place outdoors should be weatherproof, but that doesn't mean it can't look as good as any indoor living room. Rugs, throw pillows and chair cushions all come in waterproof fabrics, while coffee tables, side tables, sofas, sectionals and armchairs often come together in sets. Rope or string lighting are popular mood setters, as are candles, which can also keep bugs away if you get the right kind. Fun little accessories, like a garden stool, tiki torch or umbrella, can add more personality where it's lacking.
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