How to Turn Your Patio into the Ultimate Al Fresco Environment Home Improvement by Louis Reyes - June 2, 2017June 6, 20170 If you are fortunate enough to have a large terrace adjacent to your home, you have the foundations to create a truly unique al fresco dining area, a perfect place to entertain friends during those long summer evenings. Whatever the condition of your existing patio, with a little careful planning and a suitable budget, here are some great ideas to revitalise that special part of the garden and make it the focal point of the home. Gaining Access Most patios are adjoined to the side or the rear of the house, with access via a small set of patio doors, and while this is fine, the actual length of the exterior wall is probably much more than the doors occupy and if you were to have a long set of double glazed bi fold doors, you can literally bring the terrace into the lounge. Of course, this would involve removing brickwork and adding a long lintel to support the weight, but with a set of bespoke UPVC doors, you would have a panoramic view of the garden. The cost of the building work would be minimal, and with made to measure units and a choice of opening styles, this improvement would be ideal for the al fresco experience. Awnings Modern awnings are far removed from the traditional rope and pulley jobs, and with motorised fully retractable units, you can have the ultimate in style and elegance that can be hidden away when not required, or during heavy storms for protection. Adding matching window awnings really adds that Mediterranean touch, and with top quality fabric that comes in a range of colours and patterns, you can create a unique style that will be the envy of your neighbours. Garden Furniture A great deal of thought should be given to this, and bear in mind that your terrace furniture must be extremely durable, as well as stylish. This is one item where quality must come first, and a few hours surfing the web should point you in the right direction. Furniture with detachable cushions are an excellent choice, as they can easily be washed, or removed in the winter, or an as alternative, consider customised wrought iron furniture, which gives you a dated look. Some homeowners prefer the natural look of rattan garden furniture, and providing the terrace is covered, rattan is an ideal choice. Lighting This is where you can really be creative, especially with modern LED solutions that come in self-adhesive strips that can be attached to almost anything, and with a few well-placed spots, the evening ambience can be varied. Ground level lighting is very attractive on timber decking and by hiding a few dim lights in the foliage, you can create something a little dreamy. If the budget stretches to it, consider having an outdoor kitchen, which really makes things convenient, and with a made to measure design, your al fresco terrace is complete.