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51 Ways To Have The Best Summer Ever…No Matter What

Quick and Easy Updates to Transform Your Patio

KGA Studio Architects’ Paul Mahony has some strategies to turn your patio (or porch) into the hottest dining spot in town.


To enjoy dinner on a rooftop deck as the sun dips behind the Rockies is truly the peak of summer delight. But since increases in table separation may make finding a seat in your favorite eateries’ open-air spaces more difficult than ever, you should probably prepare a backup plan. Take some inspiration from this patio in Cherry Hills Village, designed by Paul Mahony, senior partner at Louisville’s KGA Studio Architects, to transform whatever outdoor real estate you have into a swanky spot for supping and sipping.

Photo by David Patterson/Courtesy of KGA Studio Architects

1. Go Green

Avoid uniformity when incorporating potted plants; after all, no two trees grow to exactly the same shape and height. A variety of container sizes and foliage—like the flowery annuals and taller topiaries the homeowners selected with help from Littleton landscaping company Designs by Sundown—adds visual interest.

2. Fired Up

Mahony used this home’s chimney to anchor a grand outdoor hearth to “entice guests to lounge outside.” A stand-alone firepit serves the same purpose, especially if you’re missing campfires.

3. Shed Some Light

“Your outdoor space is an extension of the interior,” Mahony says. “You’d rarely have a room indoors with zero lights.” The owners of this English cottage–style abode chose gas lamps and a rustic chandelier to cast a romantic glow, one you can also achieve with a few closely watched candles.

4. Stay Covered

It may not provide full shelter, but a pergola still creates the impression of a ceiling, Mahony says, driving home the outdoor-room concept. He collaborated with Denver’s Diamond Homes and Designs by Sundown to create this elaborate structure, but simpler versions (such as Toja Grid’s DIY pergola kits) offer a less expensive alternative.

5. Sitting Pretty

Avoid the inconvenience of carrying cushions inside before every 10-minute Denver downpour with colorful versions in a waterproof fabric like Sunbrella, which, Mahony notes, can be hosed down.

6. Set The Table

This patio’s teak table and chairs won’t stand up to Colorado’s weather patterns as well as powder-coated metal, but, Mahony says, “if you leave it alone, it fades to a nice, neutral gray.” To restore a soft, wood look even after years of outdoor use, just clean and stain.

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