A Beginner’s Guide to Patio Decorating and Design

A Beginner’s Guide to Patio Decorating and Design

Summer is in full swing and back patios are the perfect place to enjoy the season, relax and entertain outdoors. Selecting the right outdoor furniture and accessories for your outdoor living space will ensure enjoyable evenings spent with friends and family. Use our beginner’s guide to get started with basic patio design and decorating ideas.

Select patio furniture for your layout

Small or large, it’s possible to create a beautiful, backyard patio that’s perfect for outdoor entertaining. The furniture you select for your outdoor patio will depend heavily on the size of the space you’re working with. 

Large patio designs

If you’re not pressed for space, the challenge then becomes making your porch or patio feel warm and welcoming. Incorporating large plush or wicker furniture and oversized pillows will create a cozier sitting area than wooden or iron pieces. If choosing upholstered furniture, make sure that the material is designed to stand up to the elements. When it comes to outdoor dining, long, rectangular tables with benches are feasible options for a large patio area. By adding a bar cart or island with extra counter space for preparing food and drinks, your dining area can also double as an outdoor kitchen.

Don’t be afraid to add sizable pieces of decor, either. Depending on where your patio is located, you may be able to make a statement with full mirrors or wall displays that complement large pieces of furniture and serve as a focal point for your space. Finally, join sections of the patio together using large outdoor rugs.


Small patio designs

Small patios don’t need large furniture to feel homey, so don’t waste space with bulky pieces. Wooden or iron tables and chairs are perfect for alfresco dining, and can be just as welcoming without overpowering an area.

Don’t overdo it when it comes to decor. Use small accents and try to be versatile where possible. Benches or tables can double as storage while also adding character to the patio.


Choose a color palette for the outdoors

Designing an outdoor space involves many of the same steps as decorating indoors, including selecting a color palette that matches your style. There are a few different routes you can take with this step. For example, you may decide to stick to your home’s interior palette, or instead choose pieces that mimic elements of its exterior.

Rather than trying to match color schemes exactly, you may instead choose to remain consistent only in style. Use all-natural colors to create a clean, modern look and add in pops of bright color with throw pillows and blankets. Teal, sea green and neutrals will create a mediterranean design. Mixing and matching colors, especially furniture, can make the space appear more rustic. 


Bring interior style outdoors

There’s no need to sacrifice your personal decor style because you’ve moved outdoors. Find outdoor furniture and decor pieces that follow the same style as the interior of your home. Use wicker and iron seating to create a rustic design, and select bright colors – reds, greens, yellows – for a more retro look. Neutral-colored, upholstered pieces can be used for a more modern aesthetic.


Use outdoor rugs to tie the space together

Often overlooked when designing a patio, outdoor rugs can be used to tie the space together and really make the patio feel like an extension of your home. Choose something that matches your style and fits the space you’re working with. Be careful not to select a rug that’s overly large or includes a pattern that overpowers a small area.
Whichever style you choose, it’s important to find something durable and weatherproof, if possible. Foot traffic in addition to nature’s elements can seriously damage the look and structure of the rug, so keep this in mind when selecting materials, colors and patterns.


Add stylish outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting is key for spring and summer nights where guests may be visiting late into the evening. Choose from a variety of different types of lighting to add ambience and illuminate walkways for safe navigation at night.
When selecting lighting fixtures, consider each as a decor element that can fit the theme of your patio and your home’s architecture – select pieces that fit either a modern or traditional exterior and finishes to match color schemes. Light entryways with wall mounts and hanging lanterns, or use a flush mount if space is limited. Illuminate paths to and from your patio with post lights; post height can vary depending on available space and personal preference.

The seating area is where you can get the most creative. You may decide to use a combination of lanterns and string lights, and even play with color and shape! Depending on setup, some layouts and retaining walls may allow for a mounted ceiling or wall light.


Leverage landscaping

Chances are you’ve worked hard to design and maintain your landscaping, so why not showcase it as part of your patio. There’s no need to create a lot of additional work, either. Use low maintenance shrubs, bushes and perennials to border and accentuate your outdoor living space. If available, use architectural features like pergolas, trellises and arbors to tame vines. If you wish, work with a landscape architect to decide how best to layout your patio to include physical structures and greenery.

Plants are a great way to spruce up outdoor decor. Use multi-functional vintage decorative items in your garden – pots, barrels, old doors or milk jugs can all serve as outdoor planters and decor within a patio landscape. Additionally, add in potted plants and succulents for pops of color throughout the space. 


Change with the seasons

Like the rest of your home, your patio decor can be updated with each season. Change out smaller accents like potted plants and pillows with the time of year. Add in additional throw blankets and seating around fire pits and outdoor fireplaces as the temperature drops. Finally, incorporate additional decor elements that coincide with seasonal holidays – patriotic tablecloths and pillows on the Fourth of July, scarecrows and pumpkins on Halloween.


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