3 Keys to Creating a Customized Outdoor Space

August 30, 2021 Interview, Patio Design

Customizing your patio isn’t just a great way to enjoy your outdoor space, it’s also a terrific way to showcase your style. The three owners of Houston-based Texas Custom Patios, husband and wife Rob and Katherine Douglass and Steven Schell, have learned an array of techniques for maximizing any outdoor space. They’ve discovered that the best patio designs are a blend of a home’s architecture and the owners’ personal style.

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Creating the market. In 2004, Rob Douglass saw an opportunity. Working for the YMCA and living in Fort Bend County, he noticed “a lot of rooftops going up,” he says. “Although the new homes were on decent-sized lots, the new backyards had a 10-by-10 slab and not much else.” Douglass realized he could create a specialized service designing and building outdoor living spaces, dining areas and kitchens. He brought his wife, Katherine, on as partner and then enlisted the help of YMCA co-worker Schell.

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Your new favorite room. In the ensuing 15 years, the company has grown to include offices in Houston and now Dallas. The team has created an array of outdoor living rooms, customized kitchen spaces, dining and living rooms with outdoor entertainment centers, as well as customized pool houses. “We’ve learned from all the mistakes,” says Schell, who has a background in architectural drafting as well as his on-the-job experience. “We spend a lot of time designing and building each job and have gotten pretty good at it. We can give our customers a good assessment on how and what they should do.”

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1. Extend Your Home’s Architecture

“A typical outdoor project gives people 500 square feet of shade and adds a dining space and a lounging space,” Douglass says. “We can also add kitchens and fire features, but our main goal is to match those outdoor rooms to the home’s original style.”

The patio of this Houston brick traditional home was created by extending the home’s wide overhanging roof line and then matching the trim detail of the original structure. The team added Craftsman-style columns and coffered ceilings with oversize beams to the roof’s interior. Two new French doors provide easier access to the outdoor space from inside. “The owners really liked the mix of the brick and the white wood,” Douglass says.

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2. Make It Your Own

Designing a patio provides a great opportunity to design and build a new favorite room. “Most people really enjoy the opportunity to customize the space to reflect their style,” Schell says. This Houston pool house was originally designed to be an open porch with a contemporary flair. “It was partially enclosed,” Schell says. “However, the owners wanted both a fireplace and custom kitchen.”

Schell designed a waterfall island wrapped in white oak for the kitchen, then used large terrazzo tiles as a backsplash. He finished the floor with Pennsylvania bluestone. In the sitting area, a contemporary gas fireplace features ceramic fire balls. The owners liked the resulting space so much, they decided to transform it into a full pool house that could be used all year. Schell added glass windows and accordion-style glass doors.

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3. Take Up Some Space

For comfort’s sake, don’t skimp on space. “In the initial planning stage, we ask in-depth questions,” Douglass says. “It’s important to consider exactly how someone plans to use a space.” By getting into the nitty-gritty of how many people will sit at a dining table, for example, or whether a family entertains a lot, the team can plan for the appropriate amount of square footage. “If you want an outdoor kitchen, you’ll need enough space to move around,” Douglass says. “You don’t want to be backing into the grill, for example.”

This 850-square-foot patio in Houston is ideal for entertaining. The natural stone work area includes a grill and a power burner for crawfish. Both the lounge and dining table can accommodate up to 10 guests. The white brick walls and tile floor are offset by a dark wood tongue-and-groove ceiling.

For more information or examples of Texas Custom Patios’ work, visit the Houzz profile.

This story was written by the Houzz Sponsored Content team.

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