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Patio life: Making the most of the season

As a Southern transplant, I’ve learned to survive Buffalo winters. The best part? Appreciating the glorious days of summer when they finally arrive, in a way I never could before. When the thermometer edges toward 70, I understand why Buffalonians flock to the lake, the festival, the outdoor concert. At the same time, I know many soak up all that summer has to offer in the comfort of their own patios.

I’m among them. What better way to relish a warm breeze and an evening concert of cicadas than kicked back on a chaise lounge, a chilled glass of Chardonnay in hand?

It’s also smart to have a patio. According to Consumer Reports (February 2016), attractive patios are one of eight ways to boost your home value.

People who do patios right — replete with fire pits, decked-out grills, umbrella tables and matching chairs — actually provide themselves with an additional room between May and September.

Beth Jajkowski, an Amherst mom of two, is one of those people. Along with having a fetching front porch tastefully decorated for major holidays, she also has an enviable back porch/patio.

Located off the kitchen, it looks out over a three-hole putting green and in-ground swimming pool. It stays semi-dormant through the winter, although Jajkowski, like many Buffalonians, will fire up the grill year-round. When May arrives, her patio transforms into a space that is breathtakingly lovely and welcoming.

Seven years ago when she moved into the house, she had a vision for her outdoor space. She purchased a brown rattan loveseat and chairs and sewed her own cushions and pillows in a chevron design in turquoise, orange and yellow. She painted the ceiling a cheery yellow and installed ceiling fans that feel so tropical you almost forget you’re in a city that stays buried in snow for months. To complete the look, she adds sheer panels in coral and cream to enclose the space.

“It makes it feel like another room,” she said.

While the patio can fit up to 16 people, she most often curls up on the loveseat with her husband, enjoying a glass of wine or watching their sons splash in the pool.

“It faces west so you get the setting sun,” she said. “It’s a nice place to end the day.”

Regardless of the size or fanciness of your patio, it should be a haven — a place to relax in privacy and a place to entertain, a place to revel in a sunset and a place to welcome songbirds on the cusp of morning. If you spend adequate time on your patio this summer, you’ll have plenty of warm memories to pull out when winter rolls around again.

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