This beautiful fall weather has given me the opportunity to visit many completed projects to take pictures and generally check in on how installed designs have performed over time. I’ve talked with many of my former clients about what has worked for them and what could have been improved. Here are a few things I have learned!
1. At this Andover project, we had been deliberating the decking color for a new set of steps off of a new door. We ended up going with a dark color, which contrasts with the blue/grey of the bluestone patio. The owner was so happy we made this decision because the strong contrast in color makes the step change easier to see. The concept of visually highlighting a grade change with a change of color in material is something I will make sure to continue.
2. At this Sudbury project, we designed a beautiful built-in kitchen counter with grill and power burner. At the time we discussed plumbing gas to the grill but decided to forgo the plumbing and permitting hassle and stick with a propane grill. The owner told me he regrets that decision, that we should have plumbed the grill and he wished he had put in a plumbed sink as well! The take away for me is that even though the process is a bit harder, if it is easier in the long run it is probably worth it!
3. At this project in Wakefield we dealt with over 40′ of grade change across the property! A parking spot up at the top corner flows down to a deck at the first floor level. I designed path lighting along the path from this parking spot to the patio. But, the owners have mentioned glare from the lights, because when they are on the patio the lights are uphill. For lighting projects I’ve started to research glare reducing shields and fixtures or alternatives to post mounted path lights for this type of condition.
4. I often specify bluestone as a patio or walkway material. It is durable, traditional and beautiful. Two of my clients, though, mentioned that they didn’t like stains emerging on their bluestone. As a natural and porous material bluestone does have a tendency to leach iron and minerals that can stain the stone. Stone can also stain from the tannins in dropped leaves. Grease is another big problem, if you drop food or your grill splatters it will stain. Many of these stains will fade with time and weather, but, I’ve started to rethink using bluestone so commonly. It is a great material if you want a natural, patinated look. If your preference is a consistent, stain free, finish then granite or even an outdoor porcelain paver may be a better choice. The below picture is actually from my backyard when I was about to wash down my patio, you can see some of the stones have a reddish hue, this is iron leaching from the stone.
As always I’m grateful for my clients for trusting me with their designs and giving me honest and helpful feedback I can use in the future!