Outdoor patio chair

Design Tips

9 Outdoor Decorating Ideas

Now that winter’s finally starting to fade, the great outdoor migration begins. After months of snow, ice, and bitter winds, spring weather has most of us so excited we don’t even care what our porches and patios look like. As long as the sun is shining, we’re happy!

But spring fever is no reason to let your sense of style slide. When you’re looking forward to a spring and summer spent in your backyard or on your terrace, it just makes sense to create a space that’s as stylish as your home.

Give your own porch or patio a facelift with these 9 outdoor decorating ideas – then help your clients do the same!

1. Keep things cool

After a chilly winter, the last thing you want is to be chased back inside by a sun that’s too hot. Bring some artificial shade to a backyard that’s short on natural coverage. For a small patio or a cozy dining setup, your traditional patio umbrella is a perfect fit. Pier 1 offers a range of umbrella sizes and styles – all in cheerful colors, and perfect for clients on a budget.

A bigger space may need something that provides a little more coverage, though. DIY it with a sheet of canvas or other outdoor-friendly fabric strung up over your space as an airy canopy.

2. A room without walls

The days of sparse, worn-out patio furnishings are over, thank goodness. Many people spend as much time as possible outside during the spring and summer – so why not create a patio that offers just as much style and comfort as your living room?

Decorating an outdoor "room"

Outdoor couch? Check. Outdoor armchairs? Check. Outdoor art, fireplace, chandeliers, pillows, and throws? Check, check, check, check, and check. Modern outdoor furniture and décor offer just as much selection as their traditional indoor counterparts. Many homeowners take full advantage of a large patio or semi-enclosed space to create an outdoor “room” – minus the walls. Check out these gorgeous California patios for some inspiration.

3. Folding chair makeover

Any who loves to entertain knows the struggle of finding enough seating. Sure, you’ve got a gorgeous backyard setup, but sometimes you’ve just got a few too many guests to squeeze on the outdoor couch. And while those plain old folding chairs might be boring, they’re also pretty useful.

Instead of hiding your folding chairs at the edges of the patio, give them an update to make them a stylish addition to any event. Grab a can of spray paint and coat them in a few layers of color. If your artistic skills are up to the job, you can try out a stencil to add some interest. Otherwise, go for a few bright colors that’ll make your chairs pop.

4. Get inspired by your garden

Just as you take interior decorating inspiration from a paint shade, wallpaper pattern, or statement piece, let your garden inspire you. Greens, blues, and browns drawn from your outdoor foliage help to anchor your patio furniture. This natural palette lets your patio blend seamlessly with your garden for a true Great Outdoors experience.

Bright, floral patio decor

The cool, calming tones of garden greenery aren’t your only option, though. Take your lead from your brilliant flowerbeds (or the bright flowers you wish you had) and go bold with your color choices. Your yard is the perfect place to go bold, especially if you tend to play it safe with neutrals indoors. Bright colors are fun, exciting, and seasonal. They’re sure to brighten up any outdoor space, no matter the size!

5. Create a hanging garden

An apartment terrace offers a beautiful view and a lovely breeze, but we all know they’re a little short on gardening space. A high-rise suite or a postage-stamp backyard doesn’t mean you have to give up gardening, though. In addition to your typical hanging pots and window flower baskets, why not try your hand at a small-scale herb garden?

This outdoor decorating idea is so popular, we’ve round up not one, not two, but three different tutorials for a DIY space-saving herb garden:

Hanging herb garden

6. Outdoor aromatherapy

For anyone who loves scented candles, incense, or fragrance diffusers, let your backyard provide you with the real deal. Any design professional knows that decorating isn’t just about the visuals – the way a place smells makes a big difference.

Figure out your favorite scents and add them to your garden to add incredible fragrance to your yard. Not sure where to start? Try these fragrant favorites:

  • Roses
  • Lavender
  • Magnolia
  • Orange trees
  • Hydrangeas
  • Jasmine
  • Gardenia
  • Sweet Pea
  • Lilac
  • Lily-of-the-Valley

Fragrant garden

7. Outdoor rugs

Indoors, a rug (or two) can help unify a space, and the same idea holds outside. That makes an outdoor rug especially useful if you’re trying to create our outdoor decorating idea #2. Without those walls, a big rug helps to bring your fresh-air room together.

And just like the rest of your backyard décor options, an outdoor rug doesn’t have to be bland. Wayfair and Pier 1 both have big selections of rugs in beautiful colors and patterns. Plus, if you go with a lighter-colored rug, you can help save your bare feet from getting burned by hot brick, stone, or concrete in the summer!

8. Take your whole family outside

This outdoor decorating idea is for the pet lovers out there. You love spending time outside in the spring and summer – why not give your pets the same pleasure? A big outdoor pillow or dog bed is all you need for your canine friends, but it gets a little trickier for indoor animals.

If your indoor cat, rabbit, guinea pig, or other pet loves your backyard but hates being on a harness, buy or build them an outdoor enclosure. For a small animal, an outdoor hutch can provide tons of space, grass, and fresh air. Cats can be a little more adventurous, so consider an enclosure that’s a little more spread out. Kittywalk sells setups that are easy to move, while other companies can help you create an exciting enclosure for your cat that’s a little more permanent.

Dog and cat out in the garden

9. No space is too small

Yes, many of us dream of a big, lush backyard – but for those living in busy urban centers, that’s just not possible.

If you’re stuck with a tiny back garden or a thin strip of terrace, though, don’t despair. Potted plants, bright décor, and a small bistro set can still give your home a tiny oasis. This post from Apartment Therapy will give you some great outdoor decorating ideas for small (and we mean small) spaces.

Spring doesn’t just bring flowers and nice weather – it also kicks off house hunting season! Learn how to help your client create curb appeal.

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