Open up your outdoor space for an entertaining solution.
Bigger, Better Patio
Credit: Joseph De Sciose / Styling: Alan Henderson

This Tudor-style house in the hills overlooking Charleston, West Virginia, is close to the city while seeming a thousand miles away. But, until recently, the house didn't take advantage of the surrounding natural beauty.

Homeowners David and Sandy Thomas set out to change that. "The outdoor areas were basically unusable," remembers Sandy. "The shrubs were overgrown, and the patio was small and dark."

Time To Redesign
So Sandy called landscape designer Bill Mills. They reconfigured the yard to give the Thomases and their guests a way to enjoy the scenery.

Sandy envisioned a new patio extending from the existing covered terrace out into the yard. Bill understood exactly what she wanted. "After talking with her and seeing what she had in mind, I realized she was looking for a promontory, a sort of free-floating space that could serve a lot of different purposes," explains Bill.

What material to place underfoot was an important decision. They finally settled on blue flagstone for the patio. These pavers match the color of the slate roof tiles and are easy to walk on as well.

Out With the Old
Certain things had to go before construction could begin. First was the old patio in the corner, along with the L-shaped row of low shrubs that bordered it. Next, they took out a dogwood in the lawn, followed by a large oak that would have hemmed in the new patio. In their places, Bill added a new flagstone walk, more lawn, and a curved planting bed by the house.

With the addition of teak furniture and planters for seasonal color, only one step remained to complete this picture. Sandy and David invited friends to enjoy it with them, spending a comfortable evening feeling a thousand miles away.

"Bigger, Better Patio" is from the May 2006 issue of Southern Living.