The winter months are always the best time in Calgary to start planning and dreaming what changes you’ll make when the weather starts to turn warmer. With the end of winter in sight, it’s time to think about making the best use of your outdoor space to turn your yard into the only place to entertain guests this year. However, it’s easy to forget how quickly the Calgary summer comes on, and just how short those warm days and cool nights of spring last. The hot Alberta summer makes it hard to spend extended periods of time outside on your deck due to the strong sunlight and high temperatures.
For most people, this heat keeps them inside just like during those cold winter days; the only difference being that they spend their time feeling guilty that they’re not outside enjoying the sunshine. Fortunately, there is a way for you to make cheap and effective home improvements that allow you to fully enjoy all parts of the summer. Installing a Desert Sun Patio cover is a great way to give you shade and coolness to keep you outside with your friends and family for longer; you may even find a way to get out there when the snow starts to fly again!
A patio cover is effectively an extension of the roof of your home which sits over the top of your patio or deck. It can either stand separately, looking like a large sail over your deck, or be attached to your home, which will make your deck feel like a natural part of the house. It’s also one of the quickest and cheapest home improvements that you can make. A patio cover can either just cover the deck or patio or hang over the edge, creating further shade and cover for your outdoor space. In either case, here are some tips for how to make the best of your patio cover when you’re entertaining guests:
- Plenty of seating — while everyone wants to be outside to enjoy the warming temperatures, your guests will appreciate having somewhere to sit. A cozy set of four armchairs works well if you only ever plan on having a small group of friends around, but for larger parties you’ll want to think about longer outdoor couches to give more space. If you have installed a standalone patio cover, you can install a swinging seat or hammock from the supporting poles for a more unusual seating arrangement. A final thought about seating under a patio cover is that it gives you plenty more flexibility over the materials and fabrics that you can use. Without shade, normal cotton covers will fade quickly, as well as becoming susceptible to the rains and thunderstorms. A patio cover allows you to keep colours vibrant and seats dry all season long, meaning that you can entertain better and for longer.
- Flat surfaces for food — any good party under your patio cover will involve eating, preferably straight from the barbecue, and your guests will need somewhere to eat from. It’s possible to have people eat from plates held in their laps, but buying small coffee tables or high desks for people to eat around will be a better option that trying to create a formal dining area. A big table and chairs will look great, but will take up lots of space, meaning that you’ll be limited on the number of people that you can entertain under your new patio cover. You’ll also need to think about how you’ll present the food, dishes and cutlery so that people don’t have to go in and out of the house to get things from the kitchen. A popular choice is a portable chef’s block that can be used for displaying food as food preparation. Another great idea for smaller decks and patios is a multi-layered tray so you can present food vertically instead of horizontally.
- Ceiling fans — patio covers are great for creating shade from the sun, but they also act as massive air traps. Unless your deck opens out on three sides, it’s going to be hard to get a breeze going, so you will need some form of ventilation to get the air moving. Stand up fans work ok for small groups, but someone will always be annoyed by sitting too close and having the air blow on their face. Installing a ceiling fan using the structure of the patio cover as support makes sense, and you can also double it up with overhead lighting. You can choose between the traditional metal blade ceiling fan, which will force more air to move, or a lighter weight wooden blade fan which will look more aesthetically pleasing. Be sure to check the load bearing capacity of your overhead beam, as ones made from lightweight metals such as aluminum will not support the larger fans needed for cooling down outdoor spaces. You should also consider installing a slatted vent or open window at the top of your patio cover. This will allow the ceiling fan to push the hot air out that it has pulled up from down below, meaning more cool air can be circulated.
Finally, you’ll need some consideration about where the barbecue will sit. While you want to be close enough to the house to shorten the trips to and from the kitchen, you don’t want to smoke out your new patio cover and make it uncomfortable for your guests. Creating a specific area for your grill at one end of your patio or deck will not only keep the smoke and steam away, but it will also help to frame your new outdoor room. Some patio cover owners choose to have their grill moved off the deck entirely, which will free up a lot of space, as all the food preparation and cooking can be done either by the grill or in the kitchen. This means more space for chairs, tables and decorations, making your patio cover the best place to entertain during the hot summer months.