Amp up the style, functionality and overall enjoyment you get from your outdoor living space with upgrades to your pool/patio area. Experts share tips on how to get the most bang for your buck.


  • Outdoor living spaces should complement the natural surroundings of the backyard. Indigenous Missouri fieldstone boulders are the perfect material to construct walls, fireplaces and steps.
  • Extend the usefulness of an outdoor kitchen with the addition of a pergola for shade.
  • ‘Tanning shelves’ have become common additions to swim areas—they provide a space to enjoy the water without getting entirely wet.
  • Water features are beautiful and soothing. Waterfalls offer the most value for your backyard budget. And deck jets are a practical upgrade—if left on overnight in the cool air, the redistribution can help cool the pool’s water.


  • When considering upgrades, remember: The No. 1 reason to upgrade your patio/pool environment is for your own personal enjoyment.
  • Keep in mind: Outdoor environments can be created in phases over a period of time. A good initial design allows for additional features to be incorporated at a later date.
  • The addition of an outdoor kitchen with indoor amenities like refrigerators, sinks and granite bar tops is the most popular phase two upgrade.
  • Portable spas, pool houses and gazebos heighten the drama and luxury of outdoor living, and outdoor fireplaces can extend the seasons of use.


  • Besides the obvious advantage of upgrades—enhanced appearance and beauty—the greatest benefit may be increased functionality, such as the addition of a shade structure or lighting.
  • The use of alternatives to traditional wood materials is gaining in popularity. Whether building from the ground up or looking to upgrade an existing structure, consider synthetic materials—they require little maintenance and are friendly to the pool environment.
  • The addition of small details like incorporating thin, metal profiles into railing or upgrading the size of a structure incurs minimal cost, while providing enormous advantages in the ability to enjoy your space.
  • Regularly treat hardwood finishes by applying hardwood oil. The process is not as intimidating as one may think, and the preservation and beauty far outweigh the effort.