The patio is dull as dishwater and needs more than colorful fresh chair cushions to create it during the season. Get out your paintbrush. It is possible to paint the ground, the walls, the furniture even the open beams overhead — to change the personality of your patio. Paints are designed especially for concrete which can be sealed to continue for years. Painted wood can change character along with your decor. The patio colors might function as a bridge from home to garden, or by your neighborhood to your dream destination.
The Palette Underfoot
Splash a little paint on the ground to transport your unremarkable patio to a more exotic place, for about the price of a shade or two plus a free weekend. Paint boring concrete to look like vibrant flagstone, elegant pavers or weathered brick, with outside flooring and patio paints and stamps cut from blocks of foam from the contours of flagstones or garnish. A little roller lets you roll a brick form and repeat the process till you have “bricked” the entire patio — and the course leading to it from the front part of the home or the garden. A wood or concrete patio becomes a giant chessboard or a carpet of harlequin diamonds using alternating coloured squares or rhombuses. If you are truly adventurous, you could paint an oriental carpet on the patio.
Walls encompassing or flanking the patio are canvases for making theater in your own backyard. Stucco walls painted terra-cotta, hot tropical pink, gaudy aquamarine or rich blue-violet are south-of-the-border and South Pacific. A beach-house patio is part of the coastline when it is covered with a frieze of sea stars, sand dollars, shells, stone and fish coral — using an octopus sprawled across the corner. A contemporary patio with stainless steel kitchen appliances is sleek and urban with neutrals or dull colors on the walls. Mustard, olive, gunmetal, bisque and mushroom reveal nature’s colours, or the palette of a few Mid-Century Modernists, turning your kitchen to an extension of the home.
Ring the patio with large planters and paint them in layouts and colours to define your decor. Giant faux-weathered and peeling whitewashed urns evoke a country estate, planted with topiary shrubs. Low wood planters studded with cactus plants and waving grasses are as Southwestern as Santa Fe when you paint the timber in Native America patterns and colours. Low walls topped with planters in vibrant primary colours, double the impact of the riot of blooms growing from the planters. Faux marble planters, half-covered in trailing ivy, might have graced the marble patio of a Roman residence. Planters painted with chalkboard paint invite the emptying of every exuberant artistic impulse to a place which can be hosed down after playtime– no damage done.
The pergola or the arbor on the patio is created of a wood which won’t weather into a lovely shade of silver over time. That is no problem for you because exposed cedar or cedar isn’t the sole look to get a well-used patio. Welcome your guests below a rainbow of brightly painted beams which turn every casual meal to a festive occasion. Paint a true rainbow of colours, one to a beam, and hang windsocks with extended rainbow ribbon streamers at every corner. Go for something more eye catching and subtle and paint the overhead beams at the graduated ombre intensities of a single hue. Paint the picnic table among the shades and the chairs and seats that surround it at the rest of the selection of colors. Go for a classic patio from the Old World and reproduce Renaissance and Baroque designs over the corners that are open, including lots of twining vines and winged puti, and a great deal of metallic gold to shine in sunlight and in the lamplight.