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Styling the Patio: Tips and Inspiration for Cultivating Outdoor Spaces


Spring is my favorite time of the year. I love getting outside and working in the yard. I love maintaining the fountains, pruning and feeding the potted plants, hand watering, and just sitting on the back patio with my dog and an iced tea, looking up into the terraced garden.

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One of the new trends in home décor is happening outside, on the patio. Patio furniture has a tendency to look quite generic. Mixing in mismatched, weather resistant elements such as ceramic garden stools, outdoor fabrics and a few well chosen accessories will customize your patio and keep it from looking like an impersonal store display.

Summer is the time to linger, dine and entertain outdoors. Here are some tips to make your outdoor living spaces comfortable, practical and inviting.




I’ve noticed good selections of outdoor furniture and accessories in many home and garden stores, discount stores, catalogs and online sources.

Choose items that are both attractive and useful such as over sized lanterns, candlesticks, potted topiary, big comfy pillows in weather resistant fabrics, and even subtle wall décor. By furnishing your patio with things that have a purpose you’ll keep it from looking pretentious or overdone. Adding even one piece of interest like a fashionable teak daybed with lots of pillows makes a big style statement.
above via DANNY SEO
I found my own patio hard to plan. It has half light shade and half deep shade making plant choice difficult. There is a central beam right in the middle of it which I surrounded with big potted ferns, myrtle and star jasmine. Though it takes up a bit of space, I love its romantic, Mediterranean effect.
With a combination of iron, wood, wicker, and aluminum it’s a space that works well for two or twelve. We eat outside most summer mornings, especially on the weekends and we often entertain outdoors. Because a portion of my patio is covered I can get away with feather cushions and pillows with indoor fabrics.


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There is a Moroccan inspired lantern over a black metal daybed. At a local discount store, I found Ralph Lauren feather pillows in bright orange cotton and dark brown awning stripes. The wicker settee has matching orange rectangular pillows and purple pillows in embroidered, Suzani inspired fabric. The aluminum table and chairs are not beautiful to look at but are lightweight and practical in small spaces like this one. The table looks quite charming with a collection of potted topiary in varying heights and sizes. The chairs are exposed to the elements so the pillows are in weather resistant, blue awning stripe fabric.
To tie the space together and make it more garden like, I purchased three 6 foot tall, rusted iron grates from which I’ve hung more plants. There is a wall fountain and a collection of large pots with tall double ball ivy topiary. There is myrtle, asparagus ferns, and my darling, “must-have” boxwoods. On the tables and on the ground dotted around the seating areas are a five foot tall iron candelabra, several black bamboo/glass lanterns, and a favorite statue.



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Last summer I hired one of the younger Segerstrom cousins to clear all the furniture and plants out so I could paint the patio. I love paints by Kelly-Moore, Benjamin Moore and Pratt and Lambert and used Kelly-Moore’s Timberbox Red which is really a russet colored paint the color of my tile roof. I painted the patio myself with a broom handle and a roller brush and Erik moved everything back for me when it dried.

It’s a place I love to be nine months of the year. I listen to music here, practice Yoga and read. It’s a place I entertain sometimes but it’s really my private oasis, made quiet from the mature trees surrounding the lot.



Shiree’s Style File

Instead of matching all your outdoor furniture, mix materials such as iron and wood for an artsy, eclectic “look”.
Limit accessories to “purposeful” items like candelabras, potted plants, lanterns, and throw pillows.
For continuity, use cushions and pillows in coordinating colors.
Choose quality pots for the patio and front door areas. I especially like pottery in turquoise, cobalt, celadon, and dark brownish-red. Mix in iron urns for visual interest and variety.
Vintage pieces like wall candelabra (such as scrolled metal pieces from the sixties) or wood shutters make subtle wall art.
Have at least one statement piece, like a beautiful daybed, a pair big iron urns with privet, or a vintage wire plant stand.
If your patio is exposed, use year round treated wicker, teak or aluminum furniture and weather resistant accessories like outdoor pillows and iron candlesticks.
Understand that outdoor furnishings require more frequent upkeep and replacing.

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