Spring has sprung for those of us below the 35th parallel and that means it’s time to take the indoors, out! Unfortunately, few people find themselves in a financial position to focus on their outdoor living this year. For those of us who recharge in the great outdoors, we’d furnish our patios before acquiring a table for the dining room. Whether or not you fall into that category I’ve got some tips and inspirational pics for spicing up your outside spaces for any budget.
There are 3 basic rules to decorating an outdoor space: color, clusters, and lighting. Any sized space can utilize these guides although most of us are limited to about one seating group and a place to park the grill. Some readers may be limited to a meager apartment patio just wide enough for a potted plant or two. Remember that outdoor living is much more casual and you can get away with much more whimsy than indoor decorating typically. So how do you implement the 3 rules?
Color trends come and go but when decorating outdoors the key is to use it. Find a color that inspires you. Maybe blue/greens remind you of a tropical paradise or bold reds and yellows take you back to trips in old Mexico. Last year’s faded furniture can be reinvigorated with a new accent pillow or a bright tiled side table. In tight spaces I find it best to bring in “over the top” kind of items- space is limited so make each piece make a statement. Unusual pieces make great conversation starters!
Next, make sure that there are designated “areas.” Cluster seating together to promote conversation. If you are grilling for guests locate your seating near the grill so you can participate in the conversation and your guests can drool in anticipation of the delicious meal to come. Set-up appealing groupings of plants, pots, and outdoor conversation pieces. I support local nurseries but if you’re in a bind Lowe’s or Wal-Mart will sell you a gallon hibiscus for around $16. Find a bold pot to plant it in or if money is tight buy a plastic one and a can of spray paint. Adding a small garden statue or trinket on the ground next to it will make an interesting height variance.
Finally, lighting is the most important element in outdoor environments. Decide if an “area” is for cooking (more light), dining (maybe difference levels for different occasions), or conversation (less light). Create the appropriate lighting level keeping in mind that fixtures should be appealing when lit and during the daylight hours. Bring in some of your own flavor with decorative strand lighting, classic Christmas lights, flamming torches, or outdoor pendants. Get creative and hide wires out outlets with a cluster of plants or under an outdoor rug.
If you need some help in finding the perfect outdoor pieces for your space, check out this article from Freshome (I’m a loyal follower!).