In this post: If you’re looking forward to a relaxed summer, these patio decor ideas will help infuse your outdoor decor with a casual chic look.⇒
I need outdoor space.
It doesn’t have to be huge. Even a small terrace will do. But I love to have a place to sit for a bit of fresh air and to clear my head.
In fact, the small patio we have at our townhouse is much better set up and gets way more use than the large backyard we had at our old home. This is certainly a case where maximizing the space you have can make all the difference in the world.
I knew when we moved here that our one little patio had to serve multiple purposes, so I decorated it with that in mind. I wanted a conversation area to relax by ourselves or to entertain friends, a place to have our coffee or eat small casual meals and a place to catch a few rays of sun. It would become my happy place… 🙂
I opted for a large sectional, which takes up a good portion of the deck, but also gives it living room-like context. With this sofa and a few scattered tables, we have all of the functionality I’d hoped for, plus the polished look that an outdoor room offers.
I put all my early efforts (and budget) into selecting a great neutral sectional and now, each summer, updating the patio is a simple and inexpensive proposition.
Here’s how I approach my outdoor decor to create a relaxed chic space.
Evaluate What You Already Own
I begin each spring by cleaning the patio and taking a good hard look at the existing furniture.
Given that there’s not much to my patio, we wipe down the railings, sweep the floor (and have it power washed every few years), clear away the debris and then evaluate what’s there and how it survived the winter.
I store my cushions in the house during the colder months, but the tables and sectional stay outside. I’m not very good about covering these outdoor pieces, but I know I should do that. The sectional has held up remarkably well, through 7 snowy winters, as have most of the supporting players we’ve added in the ensuing years.
So I spruce up what’s staying and move on.
Decide What You Need to Add
If you’ve bought quality pieces in a neutral color, they should last a long time, but this is the outdoors and things do get weathered. You also have to account for any poor choices you’ve made along the way.
In our case, I upgraded our end tables a few years in, added a pair of ottomans last summer for additional seating and included a bistro set a while ago, for small meals. But for the most part, once these items arrived, they pretty much stayed…
…with two notable exceptions.
I learned quickly that an outdoor rug will last only a few seasons and so I’ve come to view them as accessories, like throw pillows. That influences how much I’m willing to spend.
I’m also on my third coffee table, a more expensive mistake that I would have preferred not to make. The first table was teak and it did not wear well. I was ok with the gradual greying of the wood, but the spotting was untenable and it had to go. Next I got a white concrete table which was great for color and it wore well, but the small round shape ruined the proportions of the space, not to mention it was too hard to reach from most of the seating near it.
Hence the new white concrete rectangular table that I should have gotten in the first place… 😉
Determine a Color Palette or Concept
With the big decisions made in terms of foundational pieces, I was able to look at my space and see beyond sheer functionality. The seating was worked out and the tables were in place. My goals for use were met and the layout made sense. It wasn’t overcrowded and the seating was plentiful.
And best of all, it was completely neutral. It was like a blank slate and I could go in any direction. I can change it every season if I like, to suit my mood, with just a few inexpensive tweaks.
So, of course, the next thing to do was to decide what I wanted that look to be for this summer. I opted to double down on neutrals and add lots of texture. The organic trend has been influencing the way I’ve approached the inside of my home lately and I thought it would be fun to carry that theme through to the patio decor, as well.
Accessorize to Support Your New Theme
To realize that goal, I needed to add warm textiles with lots of character. I did not want to underscore the absence of color or style, but rather I needed accessories that would bring out the wood and rattan tones, keeping them from becoming invisible.
The first step was to choose a new outdoor rug, a piece I had already determined I needed to buy. I can’t express strongly enough how well the new rug achieves what I was looking for. It’s textured with a warm natural hue, reminiscent of jute, and wears an updated tone-on-tone pattern.
Riffing off the rug, I pulled out my outdoor pillows in a similar nature-based color, then supplemented the pair with new ivory pillows with knobby raised motifs and playful tassels.
A wonderful antiqued metal tray with a bronze effect rounds out the picture and is perfect for serving drinks and other fare.
Add Flowers and Plantings
When it came to choosing plants, I decided this was the ideal place to add color. My planters maintain that organic aged character and I could have gone with only white plants, but the beauty of neutrals is their versatility and how easily they allow a space to be transformed.
I also decided, unlike in previous years, to keep the plantings isolated to the end tables and floor planters and to use cut flowers on the coffee table, instead. This was primarily because of the mess that flowering plants create on the coffee table, but it also gives me the freedom to add more color on a whim.
I stuck with sedate purples for the perimeter plantings and went more vibrant with the cut bouquet.
More Outdoor Decor Ideas
- Clear away all clutter and be sure outdoor necessities are unobtrusive or in matching colors.
- If you have a bland wall at the back of the house, perk it up with hanging flower baskets.
- Hurricane lamps and lanterns add a welcoming touch and provide additional light at night.
- A pretty vintage watering can is both useful and lovely to look at.
- Planters with hidden speakers add another component for relaxing on the patio.
- Keep throw blankets in your color scheme nearby for chilly evenings.
If you have an outdoor space that’s underutilized, be sure it’s decorated to suit your taste and mood. If your main seating is both comfortable and neutral, you can embellish it anew each season with low cost accessories that will give it a fresh look.
Then all you have to do is learn how to sit back and relax!
Outdoor Decor Resource Guide
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
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