You just bought a new house, and you finally have the outdoor space you’ve been dreaming about. There’s only one problem—when it comes to choosing outdoor furniture and decor, you don’t know where to begin. Follow these easy tips to simplify the set-up of your new patio.
1. Visualize the End Result
When you think about the activities on your porch or patio, what do you imagine? Will you be hosting alfresco brunches with friends? Cocktail parties under the stars? Maybe you see yourself lounging poolside with a good book or grilling for a neighborhood cookout. Keep your lifestyle in mind when choosing outdoor furniture and decor, and consider how your space’s purpose may change over time.
Another consideration is square footage. If you have a modest yard, a sprawling outdoor sectional might not be the best fit. Conversely, a large patio will dwarf small furniture pieces. Just like the interior rooms of your home, your outdoor furniture should fill your space without dominating it. Get the dimensions of your patio and the furniture you’ve been eyeing, and use a floor planner to confirm everything will fit nicely.
Think about the climate where you live as well to help you decide the colors and materials for furniture. Lighter colors reflect heat, so they’re a great choice for hot areas. Select an umbrella to block the intense sunlight. If you live in a cooler climate or if you anticipate messes from kids or pets, dark upholstered furniture is a better choice. Also, think about adding a fire pit for extra warmth and light on chilly autumn evenings.
2. Start with the Staples
Furnishing a new home can be daunting, so start with just the basics for your patio. For frequent entertainers, ample seating is a must. Place a coffee table in front of a spacious sectional to give the area a relaxed atmosphere. If your space is cozier, opt for a few chairs or a smaller sofa instead. Have a pool? Set up chaise lounge chairs with a few side tables to relax by the water.
If you plan on enjoying meals alfresco, you’ll also want to configure an area for eating. An outdoor dining table, chairs and benches are great for large dinner parties, and a bistro table is ideal during meals for two. Prepare the food outside by cooking burgers, steaks or veggies on the grill. To make dining outdoors easier, bring a cart outside, and stock it with bar tools, acrylic barware and melamine dinnerware.
When your events extend into the night, it’s essential to have good lighting. Outdoor string lights are a great way to add a warm glow with style. Wrap lights around the umbrella pole, drape them above the dining table or place them in the hedges to add ambiance. Candles are another strong option for bringing more light outdoors. In the centerpiece on the table, incorporate tea lights into the design as a simple way to illuminate the area. They also look beautiful lining the perimeter of your pool. Going for an eye-catching display? Place colorful pillar candles in lanterns across the porch to give the area an inviting glow.
3. Personalize the Patio
This is where the fun begins. After you’ve made the finishing touches to your home’s interior, it’s time to bring your style to your outdoor space. Nothing breathes life into a patio like flowers, so deck out the area with an assortment of botanicals. Line the patio with a few large floor planters filled with trees to create privacy. For a pop of color, opt for flowers in bud vases on the dining table as timeless centerpieces.
Tie the look of the patio together with pillows, blankets and outdoor rugs. Create a cohesive color scheme by matching the textiles with the flowers. Bright shades of blues and greens establish a refreshing aesthetic, while pinks, oranges and reds create a tropical vibe. If you prefer neutrals, opt for taupe or grey textiles — they’re sure to keep the focus on the flowers. Another color option is to extend your interior’s look outdoors by using similar throws, decorative pillows and rugs indoors and out.
It’s easy to refresh the look of your patio when you need to. Hosting a barbecue for Independence Day? Swap out your pillows for red, white and blue ones to instantly make the space on-theme. As the summer fades into fall, embrace autumn with seasonal decor. Replace your summery centerpiece with an arrangement of fall leaves, pinecones and acorns, and layer the lounge furniture with knit blankets. When winter arrives, remember to bring out the furniture covers and store pillows and blankets inside.
Moving into a new home is a busy time, so take things slow as you perfect your outdoor spaces. When all is done, unwind on the patio or host a backyard party to celebrate your hard work.
Angie Erickson writes inspirational content for Crate and Barrel. She shares entertaining and interior design advice on lifestyle blogs.