Making maximum use of our existing space
We moved to Philadelphia last year in July after five years of living in DC (Capitol Hill and H Street NE). We lived in a rowhouse which did not have a backyard so we were excited that our new place had a sizable (for the city) back patio and yard. We didn’t spend a ton of time back there last year so we told ourselves that we needed to make the space more “livable.” I took some initial steps towards that goal this weekend by getting a large patio umbrella.
The dangers of maximizing
In decision-making for many facets of life, I consider myself a maximizer. I really try to think about possible outcomes, probabilities, expected value and utility, etc. I’ve been known to make multi-attribute utility models for decisions such as buying a car or choosing which graduate school to attend. In other decisions, I’m a satisficer and I try to balance the need to conduct deliberate analysis with the costs of doing so, relying on intuition when it just doesn’t make sense to sit down and do long-form division. Time is money after all– it also isn’t enjoyable to go through life always trying to be super deliberate about everything. There’s value in spontaneity, in controlled amounts. What does this have to do with patios? Well for a long time I thought about converting our patio into a sunroom. Why? Because I thought we would use the space more and I really really liked the thought of having a sunroom. I slowly started to realize, as summer crept closer, that I would probably never find the time to build a sunroom myself and that the ROI on a sunroom didn’t justify the expense.
So instead we got a patio umbrella, umbrella base , and patio umbrella LED lamp for what was at the time, a total of approx $110 (the umbrella base was so popular it went out of stock at Amazon and the price went from $34.99 to $60.00). I went with the old Amazon Prime option after doing some research and reading some reviews. The assembly took all of five minutes and voila, we now have a sun shielded back porch that also provides us with a small bit of privacy from our neighbors.
I can see us using the back patio a lot more this summer, and it didn’t require us spending $5,000-$10,000 on a sunroom kit. Not to mention the time and labor it would take to put it together. A lesson in satisficing vs. maximizing if I ever saw it. We’re going to eat out there tonight, in fact (yup, you guessed it, Blue Apron).
What kind of cool stuff do you have in your backyard or patio? Should I have gone with the sunroom option? Put your comments below!