Getting the most of your Summit County patio or deck this summer
August 15, 2016
Summer in the High Country is a special occasion. Recreational opportunities abound, with options like whitewater rafting and ziplining for the adventurous at heart, as well as more relaxing activities like sailing and hiking.
After a day out and about enjoying all that Summit County has to offer, nothing beats coming back home and kicking back on the deck or patio, savoring a light breeze and soaking up a mountain sunset.
That special touch — deck and patio design extras
A deck is more than just a wooden extension of the house; a patio is more than flagstones. While many decks and patios already come with a pleasing design or layout, there are a few things here and there that will add a little extra personality and flair to those outside spaces.
“To extend the amount of time we can enjoy our decks and patios, we often add an outdoor gas fireplace, a gas fire pit with forged iron legs, a propane heater or infrared heaters mounted in the deck roof,” Egolf said.
One of the first things to consider is furniture. Comfort is important and doesn't need to be sacrificed for style. Consideration should also be given to material.
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"Wood truly does not hold up well in our extreme environment of sun, wind, rain and snow," said Tracey Egolf, owner and lead designer of Egolf Interiors, Inc. "So even teak will need frequent oiling and periodic refinishing."
In lieu of wood, Egolf suggests using iron or cast aluminum. Fabric for cushions comes in grades designed for the outdoors. Due to the frequent afternoon showers often seen in the mountains, Egolf said she prefers an open weave mesh fabric that breathes and will quickly dry.
To protect against these sudden showers, as well as the sun, which can be pretty powerful at 9,000+ feet, Egolf suggests putting up an umbrella or retractable awning. Keeping the furniture flexible and lightweight makes moving it from sun to shade a simple task. When temperatures really drop, outdoor heating is another popular option.
"To extend the amount of time we can enjoy our decks and patios, we often add an outdoor gas fireplace, a gas fire pit with forged iron legs, a propane heater or infrared heaters mounted in the deck roof," Egolf said.
Heather Jarski, with Mountain Comfort in Frisco, said that adding splashes of color to outdoor areas is a popular move, particularly after homeowners tire of the monochromatic landscape of winter. This includes putting out colorful outdoor pillows and chair cushions, wall art and sometimes even rugs. A large or small planter of annual plants will also do the trick.
"For some nighttime ambience, large lantern candle holders — with citronella to ward off mosquitoes — and fun outdoor strings of lighting always help set the mood," she added.
Food and refreshments are almost a necessity on any deck and patio. Outdoor grills come in all sizes and varieties, and designers can help find strategic places for installation, Egolf said. Sometimes clients have preferred to put in small sinks and built-in refrigerators as well.
The perfect bite — deck and patio cuisine
While grabbing a beer and a bag of potato chips might be fine once in a while, when guests are over, we like to impress, and we want them to be as wowed by the food as much as by the view.
Creating delicious, professional-looking patio fare isn't as hard as it might sound, said chef Kevin McCombs. A graduate of the Colorado Mountain College Keystone Culinary Institute and previously Executive Chef of the historic Ski Tip Lodge, McCombs has since started his own company, House Cured Culinary, offering his services as a personal chef in Breckenridge, Vail and the surrounding areas.
Recently, McCombs shared some recipes for entertaining guests in the outdoors.
"I think they are ideal for the patio because when I think of the patio I think of summertime, and when I think of summertime I think of fresh ingredients that are light and refreshing," he said.
McCombs offered two beverages he concocted himself — the Stone Fruit Sour Whiskey Soda and the Minted Pomegranate "Mimosa." The word "mimosa" is in quotes, he said, because it is not a mimosa in the traditional sense, lacking orange juice as an ingredient. It's a light, crisp drink, with the fruity tang of pomegranate gently blending with the mint. Pulling off the whiskey soda, McCombs insists, requires a quality, perfectly ripe peach for maximum flavor.
For appetizers, McCombs suggested smoked salmon tartlets — delicate-looking bite-sized hors d'ouevres — along with marinated cucumbers and puffed brie with Colorado wildflower honey and fresh strawberries. The salty vinegar flavor of the cucumbers complements the sweet-and-cheesy taste of the puffed Brie and strawberries.
For slightly more substantial fare, McCombs volunteered his recipe for lobster and sweet corn over arugula, which blends the slightly bitter bite of arugula with sweet bits of corn and succulent bits of lobster tail. For dessert, he has concocted a banana bread trifle with fresh blueberries and lemon pudding.
The recipes fall into the easy to intermediate difficulty range, McCombs said, although if people are tired out from a long busy day or planning to entertain a large number of guests, such fare can be procured by hiring a personal chef like himself.
"The thing that I like best about these recipes is that they remind me of summertime, which is a great time of year up here in the High Country," he said.