For anyone that has a lot of guests over, especially in a warmer climate, a patio is almost an essential gathering area. Even for an intimate group, a well designed back yard can really ramp up the wow factor of any party, day or night, and greatly expand the livable space of your home. With a few renovations to your existing patio, you can not only create a wonderful gathering area you and your friends and family will enjoy for years to come, but also also increase the value of your home.
Regardless of the size of your existing space, there are a lot of ways to easily make your patio more livable. A new fire pit or outdoor fireplace coupled with some nice tiki torches and maybe a candle lantern or two not only adds a tropical flair to your patio (pun intended), but also makes it cozy and usable, even at night or late in the season. Permanent fire places add a greater value to your home, but smaller fire pits or chimeneas can be moved, and make it easier to redecorate, or keep different areas of your patio warm.
Especially if you have a sprawling or tiered patio as opposed to a large open yard and deck, it’s not a bad idea to have several smaller clusters of seating rather than trying to fit all your guests in one big lump of patio furniture. Not only will this make socializing easier – it’s almost impossible to talk over a huge table! – but it will look better, too. With enough space between your table sets, you also have a little more room to get eclectic, and play around with styles. Maybe save your most expensive pieces for the main area, and have more affordable patio furniture farther out, in case you have more guests.
Regardless of the size of your patio – whether it’s located in your back yard or atop your roof deck, installing permanent furniture increases the value of your home significantly more than regular patio furniture essentials. Why? Well, simply, because they’ll stay with the home when the rest of your furniture leaves, but there are good short-term reasons to build this way, too. Installing bench-style seating around the perimeter of your patio, deck, yard, or balcony is really the best way to get a lot of seating with a small footprint. Especially for a smaller space, this can make a huge difference for how much space you have left when you’re done decorting! Plus, if you get your seating in a neutral color, you can mix and match outdoor pillows to easily change up the look.
Installing a permanent fountain is another patio renovation that can do wonders for the value of your home. While you want to be a little careful with what fountain you choose – you want any future buyers to love it as much as you do – don’t be too afraid to let your own tastes shine through. A good fountain will be the centerpiece of your yard, whether you want something straight out of an Italian plaza, a cascading wall fountain, or if you just like the look of this urn fountain.
Fountains look especially good when lit up at night – and so do patios in general. Whether you get a pre-lit fountain or install some little spotlights yourself, expanding the electrical work on your patio can significantly increase it’s value. Adding just a little back yard lighting makes a patio both safer and more attractive at night, and allows you to use the space as long as weather permits – even if lighting otherwise wouldn’t!
One my personal favorite ways to entertain in the back yard is to have a cook out, especially late in the evening. Now, I’m not just talking burgers on a grill, but a full-on outdoor kitchen. This, again, is an excellent way to entertain – you can do all your prep, cooking, cleaning, and disposal without having to make a dozen trips back inside. Add a pergola or other overhang over the kitchen setup and maybe even your table, and you get a little protection from the elements as well as a wonderful British-style garden feel.
Even if you install mostly permanent, neutral-looking seating on your patio for its resale value, you can use other, smaller pieces to accessorize and customize the look of your patio to make it your own. The addition of wicker furniture, gauzy outdoor curtains, and matching palm trees turns this relatively plain wood seating into a tropical getaway. Add a hammock off in a corner, and you’ve got a great vacation spot only a back yard away.
The very best way to get your patio to increase the value of your home, though, is to invest some real money in the flooring. Whether you’re talking a huge deck or a delicate garden path, good quality decking material will really make a difference, in the appearance, longevity, and value of your project. Whether you go with traditional wood, synthetic materials, or more creative patio flooring options, you definitely don’t want to skimp on this part of the budget, because it will probably yield your biggest returns – even if it isn’t quite as fun as a new tiki planter.
Before you do any major renovations - especially if there’s a possibility you’ll sell your house within the next five years – be sure to check with a local real estate agent (or online) to see what the average rate of returns is for your type of project in your area. If you play your cards right, you can make back as much as or even more than you spent on the original renovation, and still enjoy it in the meantime. If you already have your dream home, though, and aren’t looking to sell… Go ahead and have some fun!
Is it better to renovate a house you plan to keep, or is it worth sprucing up a home you’re looking to flip, even if you might not get 100% return on your investment? In a shaky market, these can be pretty tough questions to answer – let me know what you think in the comments!