Who doesn’t love being in the garden? The fresh greenery, the blossoms, the smells. Sitting in my own garden or on the patio fills me with so much joy and energizes me like literally nothing else. I really feel for those who have seasonal allergies!
Styling the patio is one of the most enjoyable, satisfying and dare I say, ‘easy’ design projects you can do! To get you started, first peruse your favorite hardware stores, nurseries and even a discount store or two like Home Goods or TJ Maxx for an idea of what’s available right now, then start planning your space to understand what size furniture you need and what size pots and plants will work. Don’t be shy with size. I like to err on the larger side believe it or not.
Rather matching the materials of your furniture, coordinate them. Choose things made from a variety of materials. Wicker or wood both mix well with iron, but iron doesn’t mix well with aluminum. Iron and aluminum are too similar to create visual interest plus the iron makes the aluminum look a little cheap.
Also, choose two to three matching pieces like I did with my dark brown weather resistant settee and chair which are my anchor pieces. This shows some planning and provides continuity. Then add different materials like iron. I added a black iron settee and a black, weather resistant, woven egg chair. These provide variety and give my outdoor room a unique, custom vibe. Adding even one piece of interest like a fashionable teak daybed with lots of pillows makes a big statement.
For accessories, always choose items that have a job or ‘purpose’ such as oversized lanterns, candlesticks, potted topiary, big comfy pillows in weather resistant fabrics, and even subtle wall décor like metal candelabra’s, iron trellis or wall fountains. By accessorizing your patio with things that have a purpose you’ll keep it from looking pretentious.
I recently ‘planted’ and ‘styled’ my own, current ‘downsized’ home patio using all the beautiful glazed pots, full grown plants and iron pieces that came from my previous home. Because this yard is so much smaller than my previous home, I had lots of fun things to work with.
I added things that go well with my existing potted ivy, double ball topiary, in gorgeous turquoise glazed terra cotta pots with bronze metal ‘feet’; my 8-foot-tall Texas privet triple ball topiary in a large cobalt blue glazed pot; my 20-year-old Meyer lemon in it’s rolled rim clay pot; the mature star jasmine I trained on a iron spiral topiary frame; and the five, enormous asparagus ferns that previously surrounded our pond.
For the remaining iron planters and glazed pots I brought to the new home, I purchased English lavender, Spanish lavender, white bacopa, white geraniums, and several beautiful, upright rosemary from our beautiful nursery, Green Acres and my local Home Depot. I’ve never been a fan of colorful gardens, preferring instead lots of greenery and touches of white and purple flowers.
But before purchasing any pots or plants, get your furniture placed. Placing the furniture will likely be the most challenging task you face. When placing furniture, place the outdoor dining table and chairs first. Try and place them so they are situated the closest to where you’ll exit the home with the food. In my previous home, because there was a central beam right in the middle of the patio, we had to be inventive. Also, one half the patio is covered so I chose to put the ‘softer’ furnishings under cover leaving the table and chairs to be placed furthest from the kitchen exit. In other words, weigh your options.
This is where you and another family member might want to move things around, trying several arrangements. Or try the old-fashioned way, using life sized paper cut out versions of the furnishings you intend to buy.
Once you get the right furniture layout, it will feel ‘right’. You’ll know it like you know when you’ve bought the perfect handbag or jacket. You know without a doubt. I like to say it ‘double clicks!
Shiree’s Style File
For a more polished patio look, keep fabric, furniture, flower and planter colors to a minimum.
Opt for natural materials like iron, wood and woven for your furniture, but materials that are weather proof and also natural looking are great choices too.
Do your base patio plants in classic evergreens like boxwood, English, French or Spanish lavender, rosemary, ivy, Texas privet, ferns and ivy and also add classic flower choices like white geranium and jasmine.
Choose classic garden art such as statuary, urns, plinths, trellis’, bird baths and fountains with a focus on quality, particularly in their finishes. Current day garden art has notoriously bad finishes. You can train your eye by touring Designer Showcases with gardens; paid garden tours such as Fioli in Northern California; and travels through Savannah Georgia, New Orleans, England and France where their sense of garden style is unerring.
Choosing patio fabrics is a challenge. If you’re unsure of how to use style, colors or don’t have a clear idea of quality stick with Sunbrella fabrics that are black, white, dark green and a little red.