Reimagining the Small Patio: Creating a Functional Space to Enjoy

Millions of Americans purchase homes with backyards every year, some come with a tiny slab, a small patio, but rarely does the home builder look at the outdoor space available and build according to the lifestyle of the future homeowner.

Naturally, re-imagining the backyard space, especially if it is limited in size, is typically up to the homeowner, customizing according to each individual family’s needs. Here is one man’s story of inspired creativity paired with our industry expertise and hands-on approach, and the beautiful results achieved. 

Even though he was faced with a small patio to work with, Cory Clay of Collierville had big goals for his backyard. He had a wide-open yard with a small patio and few trees for shade, and he wanted to completely re-imagine the space and customize functionality for his family’s particular needs. He wanted to basically expand the home’s living area to the outside and create a much more appropriate space. During the planning phase we determined he wanted a new patio, an arbor to provide shade, an outdoor kitchen, and a relaxing and beautiful sitting area.

Moving Beyond the Small Patio

Cory’s project was unique because he was not terribly concerned with incorporating a great deal of planting around the patio; he wanted to leave plenty of open space for his kids and dogs to run around freely.

Plants and trees can cool off and shade an area; this is how the desire and need for an arbor was born. We built a cedar arbor to cover the kitchen and dining area; later, a ceiling fan was attached to provide additional cooling.


Creating a big, yet intimate space was important. Cory and his wife wanted to be able to entertain 8-10 people outside. Our initial plans included the covered kitchen and dining area. Cory continued to do research on dream outdoor spaces, and that is how he found the inspiration for his uncovered sitting area, which was quickly incorporated into the design and is now one of the focal points of the entire project.

Few can do any project without a budget, and Cory’s project was no exception. Budget was absolutely a factor in many of the decisions. With an initial budget of $33K, he wanted his space to feel luxurious—and that can be hard to accomplish with washed concrete alone. Flagstone is gorgeous, but expensive, and one way we helped Cory stay on budget without sacrificing his vision was to incorporate bands of flagstone to break up the monotony of the washed concrete. The flagstone accentuates areas such as the counter spaces and the steps to the sitting area; it also breaks up the patio itself. We worked with vendors getting wholesale prices for materials, as well; rather than mark-up the prices, we passed the savings along to him so that he could get the most out of his project with his given budget.















From start to finish, the creation of Cory’s new back patio and sitting area took just three weeks. We spent a great deal of time in the planning phase, working through a variety of options so Cory could choose the best for him. This hands-on approach allowed us to really zero in on Cory’s priorities for the space. Today, he has a gorgeous, intimate covered area to prepare, grill, and serve food; covered and uncovered spaces to entertain his family and friends; and a wide-open plan that lets him watch his kids play in the yard. Cory’s story is the perfect example of how a project can keep growing and changing, and how a collaborative design can turn into exactly what you want.


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