The Sunday Mail
BEFORE you decorate your patio, porch or deck — follow these simple steps and it will become your favourite place.
Find your functions
Before you start decorating, it is important to think about what the space will be used for. Are you looking for a place to enjoy an alfresco dinner or to host summer barbeques? Maybe you just want a quiet place to sit and read. Figure out how you think you will use the space and do not limit yourself to just one function. Your options are endless when it comes to the outdoors.
Plan your layout
If your space is big enough, try to separate areas into zones. Create an area for dining, cooking and lounging. Try to arrange areas so that no one has their back to anyone else when sitting in chairs to help keep conversation moving. Define the areas with indoor/outdoor rugs. Make sure you do not put the dining or lounging areas downwind from the grill — no one will appreciate breathing in the smoky air while waiting on dinner!
Have a seat
If you are using old patio furniture, give a good going over. Does it need a new coat of paint? Do the cushions need to be replaced? You will be surprised how long these cheap fixes can extend the life of your patio furniture. A couple new cushions will have your old patio furniture looking brand new again.
Get some shade
Everyone likes a little sun now and then, but sometimes enough is enough. If your porch, deck or patio is not covered, make sure you add a way to get some shade when you want it. Add a retractable awning or get a table with an umbrella. You will be grateful for the escape from the sun during the hottest hours of the day.
Add some greenery
You do not have to limit your landscaping to your yard — bring some of it onto your porch. Add a few potted plants or attach flower boxes to railings. The colour will brighten up the area and help it blend with the rest of your yard. Just remember that container plants usually need to be watered more often than plants in the yard.
Light it up
If you will use your outdoor space often at night, think of fun ways to light it up. Hang lanterns or strings of lights to give the area a romantic glow or install tiki torches around the perimeter for a definite summer feel. For after-dark dinner parties, place votive candles in mason jars.
Extras for guests
Not all of your porch decorations will wear well if left in the elements. Fill a box or plastic tote with accessories you can add at the last minute before company shows up. These items may include placemats, citronella candles and pillows. — sheknows.com