Perfect Patios: 5 ways to improve your outdoor experience at home
July 16, 2018
Editor's note: This article first appeared in Vail Valley HOME magazine, now on newsstands everywhere.
"What can we do to make this home special?"
That's the question Andy Bokol, senior sales representative at Maximum Comfort Pool & Spa, tries to answer for his customers, and many times, that answer lies outside the house. Adding improvements to a yard or patio can reap benefits all year long.
Here, Bokol shares five ways homeowners in the Vail Valley can improve the quality of their outdoor lives.
1. If you're going to spend time outside your home, then you want it to be beautiful and relaxing. That's what water features can add to your landscaping.
"Being up here in the middle of the mountains, I think a lot of people feel landlocked. It's nice to have some water," Bokol said. "The sound takes people's minds off of things, lets them escape. And in certain areas in the valley, it can cover up what highway noise is there."
The possibilities are endless.
"We can build into basically any existing hillside with different rock textures, different water patterns," Bokol said.
You can even combine water and fire features, as Maximum Comfort did in its work at the top of Bridge Street in Vail Village. Whether you want something to soothe and relax you, or water fountains to wow your guests, you only need to dream it up to make it happen.
2. But your enjoyment of your beautiful backyard only lasts as long as you do.
"What I find up here in the valley is that even in the middle of summer, once the sun sets, that temperature drops pretty quick," Bokol said.
Firepits come in many forms, from portable gas pits to customized, freeform pits. If your goal is simply to take the edge off while you enjoy your patio, then install a patio heater. The patio heater can be freestanding or built into the eaves or a patio overhang, so it's out of the way.
"It's just taking that edge off and allowing people to enjoy the outdoors up here," he said.
3. You've got a beautiful outdoor experience that you can enjoy all day and all night — but everybody's got to eat. Why not cook outdoors instead of spending the evening running back and forth between the kitchen and the back patio?
Bokol sees a lot of grills go out the door, including propane, natural gas, charcoal and smokers, but he also helps homeowners install entire custom outdoor kitchens.
"We've done 20-foot-long outdoor grill islands with beautiful stone countertops, barbecue grills and gas smokers, pizza ovens, kegerators, warming drawers and outdoor refrigerators," he said.
You can even install a trash chute so you're not spending time carrying garbage in and out of the house.
4. The most popular outdoor improvement is still that old standby: the hot tub.
"People just love when they get off the mountain — or if they're out for a walk or if they're out fishing or golfing — to be able to go home and enjoy that hot tub," Bokol said.
He said the hottest new items are swim spas, a hot-tub-like unit with fitness equipment built-in.
"We've got some with underwater treadmills people can use, swim-in-place units, there's row kits that you can add on and use the water as resistance against your body, and then they typically have a hydrotherapy section, as well," he said.
Hot Tubs & Saunas
5. Bokol has one last suggestion for improving that quality of life — an outdoor sauna.
"Saunas are starting to become really popular again," Bokol said. You can pick from many varieties of prefab saunas, which are "aesthetically appealing in the backyard. They've got them designed very nicely with exterior wood siding, different roofing materials. We'll have glass windows and glass door panels."
Saunas combine everything Bokol sees homeowners looking for in their outdoor lives.
"People are looking at them from a health benefit — they're going to flush toxins, help with weight loss, build people's immune systems — and they're becoming more of a social setting as well, where people will come over and sit in there for 20, 30 minutes, and still enjoy the mountain views," he said.