If you're like many people, you've been finding yourself spending more of your leisure hours at home these days. Conveniences such as the ability to buy anything online from shoes to fresh strawberries and have them delivered to your front door mean that you're spending less time on evenings and weekends running errands and more time relaxing with friends and family -- and this makes the patio area of your outdoor living space more important than ever. Following are three suggestions designed to provide you with inspiration for getting the most of your patio this summer

1. Have an Overhead Covering for Your Dining Area

This is a small touch that many people overlook, but an overhead covering in the form of a deep awning or umbrella makes patio dining much more enjoyable -- even if you don't need the shade. One of the main problems with eating outdoors is that birds flying overhead often answer their calls of nature in inconvenient places, and an overhead covering prevents meals from being spoiled this way. It also protects food and beverages from the occasional falling leaf as well as allows the fun to continue even if you experience an unexpected summer shower. 

2. Install an Outdoor Kitchen

Your outdoor kitchen can be anything from a basic grill for easy, casual meals, a wood-fired pizza oven, and a fully-fledged range and convection oven setup. Whatever you choose, make sure it corresponds to the type of family meals and entertaining that you do most often. It doesn't make sense, for instance, to install gourmet features if your style is hot dogs and hamburgers. Going for what you really need and want instead of trying to keep up with the latest trends in outdoor living ensures that you and your family will be relaxed and comfortable when you spend time on the patio. Keep in mind that you can always add features if your preferences change at some point. 

3. Install a New Patio Door 

Blurring the lines between the indoor and outdoor living spaces is one of this year's biggest trends, and installing a new patio door provides an excellent way to pull this off. Large glass patio doors make the patio look and feel like another room in the home. For a more continental ambiance without sacrificing the view of your patio, you can have wide French doors installed.

Your local home remodeling contractor can provide you with more information on creating the patio and entry door installation of your dreams this summer.