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Patio Design Ideas: An Architect's Guide to Great Outdoors

outdoor patio design ideas
Project Image: Faraway Road, Snowmass

Table of Contents:

The patio is the space where the family gets together. A playground of kids and fur children, the acoustic stage around bonfires during get-togethers, or the outdoor kitchen for summer barbecues— we could go on and on about the happy moments staged on patios.

A space so full of life can only be brought to justice if the decor is equally filled with zest and zing! Furthermore, a well-designed patio enhances the curb appeal of your house, which will boost the value of your real estate, and if you ever decide to put it on the market for sale, buyers will que up for it for sure!

In this blog, we bring you outdoor patio design ideas to spruce up your outdoor space from the expert designers at ali & shea

Envisioning Your Ideal Patio Space

best outdoor patio design
Project Image: West Buttermilk Road, Aspen

The patio is a space which is ever-changing. In autumn, it is draped in burnt orange, while spring brings the blooms to your doorstep. Therefore, your decor decisions should factor in such changes and be strategic. 

When starting your patio decor project, first consider the space available. Assess the existing features like slopes, the trees, already installed architectural pieces like fountains etc. Plan your space so you can make your patio the versatile hub for all kinds of activities. 

Taking cue from ‘activities’, think about how best to divide your patio into different ‘activity zones’. For example, there can be a play area, a Koi poolside for yoga and exercise, a barbecue platform with outdoor kitchen and bar unit, and of course, the lounge space. The key is to delineate all these spaces while creating a sense of unity in their decor.

Lastly, consider some other functional features that can enhance the practicality and adaptability of the patio, like retractable awnings over decks or pergolas to provide control between sunshine and shade, flexible seating, etc. 

Now, let's start off with the best outdoor patio design ideas to give direction to your patio decor project!

Choosing a Theme: Cohesion with Your Home's Aesthetic

outdoor patio furniture design ideas
Project Image: Faraway Road, Snowmass

The decor theme of your patio should sync with the decor of your indoor space so the outdoors does not seem like an alienated space but rather a part of the home itself. Let’s go over some common design aesthetics and how to best design patio spaces within these styles:

Modern Minimalism

Emphasizing clean finishes and sleek silhouettes, modern minimalist decors for patios find their match in streamlined sofas and lounge chairs. You can hone in on the contemporary design charm with sleek stainless steel metal finish furniture, glass, or concrete. Also, the landscaping and decor should be understated, it's a style that emphasizes living on only what is necessary, avoiding any gaudy objects or features. 

Maximalist Panache

What minimalism frowns upon, maximalism loves! While we say understated landscape for minimalist interiors, if you have maximalist and traditional features in your home, the outdoors are most befitting as ornate topiary gardens with fountains and cobbled walkways. Furniture should be equally ornamental but also weatherproof. 

Rustic Charm

In a rustic-themed patio, embrace the warmth and persona of natural materials. Rely on wood, stone, and wrought iron accents to evoke a lived-in, warm, and inviting atmosphere. Furthermore, you may think of wooden pergolas, reclaimed timber furniture, and stone fire pits to add texture and visual interest. 

If you have covered areas, add boucle fabric-covered throw pillows in combination with jute fabric, rattan-weave baskets etc. This theme is well-suited to homes with traditional or farmhouse-style architecture, creating a charming outdoor retreat reminiscent of a countryside cottage.

Tropical Oasis

The tropical style is most fitting for residences characterized by Mediterranean, Spanish, or tropical-inspired architectural elements. This aesthetic is commonly found in coastal retreats or vacation resorts, evoking a sense of relaxation reminiscent of holiday getaways.

We’ll help you with some ideas — plant tropical greens like palm trees, banana plants, and colorful flowers to create a lush, jungle-like atmosphere. Then, think of furniture and décor in bright hues like turquoise, coral, and lime green to evoke the vibrant energy of tropical destinations. 

In the end, decorative elements such as rattan furniture, bamboo accents, and woven textiles will be incorporated to enhance the tropical vibe.

Patio Furniture Selection: Guaranteed Comfort & Style

outdoor covered patio design ideas
Project Image: Miners Trail, Aspen

To help you select furniture that can be both style statements and high on functionality, we bring you outdoor patio furniture design ideas:

Material Matters

The material you choose for your furniture should not only sync with the decor style but also be resistant to weather-induced damage to ensure longevity and minimal maintenance. Some popular options can be:

Wicker/ Rattan

Offers the natural organic look of traditional materials while being resistant to moisture & UV rays.


Aluminum, stainless steel, or wrought iron, known for their strength, resistance to rust and corrosion, and, of course, sleek, rustic, and contemporary looks, make excellent choices for outdoor furniture.


Try opting for hardwoods like teak, cedar, or eucalyptus that are resistant to insects, rot, and decay. Alternatively, you can also consider using faux wood materials that are more durable and resistant while being doppelgangers of wood.

Soft Furnishings

Add soft furnishings to build comfort and add visual layers and textures to your patio space. And do not just think in lines of adding a few throw pillows and throwing your hands up. There’s so much more to do. For example, poufs and ottomans can be used as desired — either as simple seating options or as footrests. Then, think of outdoor rugs, blankets, plush pillows, etc. — they can all be a part of your plan.

Incorporate Functional Elements

Look for patio furniture that incorporates functional features to enhance comfort and convenience. For example, choose dining tables with built-in umbrella holes for shade or select lounge chairs with adjustable reclining positions for personalized comfort. Additionally, consider storage options such as benches or coffee tables with hidden compartments for stashing cushions, throws, or outdoor accessories.

Outdoor Kitchen

Entertainment is simply incomplete without food. So, when you are thinking of outdoor kitchen patio design ideas, consider adding appliances such as built in-grills, storage cabinets, outdoor refrigerators etc — basically, a fully functional outdoor kitchen unit. Furthermore, add dedicated dining-lounge areas to complete the space and create your very own customizable option of dining alfresco.

Lighting and Ambiance: Setting the Mood

outdoor kitchen patio design ideas
Project Image: Hyman Ave, Aspen

Lighting play a significant role in brightening patios, not just to enhance the aesthetic of the space but also for ensuring proper visuals during nighttime to avoid tripping hazards and accidents. You definitely would not like your guest to walk into the pool on their way to the outdoor dining lounge, right?

So, use a mix of decorative and functional lighting like:

  • String lights

  • Solar path lights

  • Deck & step lights

  • Lanterns & candle holders

  • Spotlights and uplights

You can use these for functionally adding brightness to the space so everything is clearly visible, especially stairs or slopes. The other job they cover is highlighting and accentuating architectural features, adding to the overall beauty of the space.

Elevate Home with Outdoor Covered Patio Design Ideas

We hope that you have already started envisioning your ideal patio with the tips and inspiration in this blog. However, don’t feel restricted in our design ideas. From a sublime tiered fountain to eclectic furniture pieces, let your imagination run free and invite components that best represent you. Remember, the challenge here is to make the outdoor space feel like a continuation of the indoors. 

And who better to help you tackle such a challenge than the experts at ali & shea. What you dream, we bring to life! 

So, whatever your decor vision is, contact ali & shea today to materialize your ideas for the best outdoor patio design!


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