It’s not too late! Create your own private oasis in a flash with these easy and affordable tips from design experts.
Summer is in full swing, and we all want to soak up the fresh air and seasonal vibes. But if you look out your windows and are less than impressed with what you see, it’s time to do something about it and spruce up your space with a few simple, but impactful, patio decor ideas. While it’s true that some items are in limited supply because those overachievers who got their decorating start in the spring snatched up a lot of products for their own outdoor enclaves, there are still plenty of fun pieces to choose from. Even better? You might be able to score them at a super discount right now with some early Labor Day sales.
Don’t put off these easy home improvements and say you’ll do them next year. Your summer barbecues will be so much more fun when you’re enjoying them on a sparkling new patio. Just picture yourself enjoying fresh produce from your garden while the kids play old-fashioned backyard games beside you. Sounds lovely, right? If you aren’t sure where to start in terms of an outdoor makeover, we’ve got all you need right here. We asked the experts to share their top ideas and tips for turning your backyard into an oasis.
Lighten things up
Make your outdoor space usable for both day and night by adding some outdoor lights. And feel free to get creative with it. “Lighting is a simple and cost-effective detail that can make a big impact on the overall look and feel of your space,” say Brigit Youngblutt and Amanda Johnson, creative services stylists at Joann Stores. “Line your patio or sidewalk with solar lights, or string some above a patio table for a nice evening ambiance.” Place & Time’s 10-count metal cage string lights add a great modern aesthetic as well as a warm glow, and they’re being offered at a major discount right now. Learn the best times to buy everything with our guide to the annual sales you won’t want to miss.
Harness the sun
If you don’t have access to electricity outdoors, look for solar-powered lights that will soak up the sun during the day and provide bright pops of light in the evening. You can find solar lights available in string bulbs or as stakes. We really like Place & Time Summer 3.15-by-17-inch solar stakes because they’re easy to install (simply pop ’em in the ground) and move around. You can spotlight your beloved garden or a patio walkway—and instantly elevate your home’s entire look in the process.
Get your glow on with intricate lanterns
There’s no need to sacrifice style for function. Outdoor solar lanterns can make a serious statement—if you choose the right ones. These pretty pieces, which come as a set of two, can either hang from an awning or grace a tabletop. You can even nestle them on the ground to help light a pathway. The hollowed-out design offers up a soothing warm glow and creates a pretty pattern in the surrounding area, and we love that you can turn them on and off with the touch of a button.
Be cart smart
You’ll be the host with the most at your next summer BBQ if you have an outdoor bar cart. “It makes catering to your guests easy and stress-free, with everything handy and within reach,” says Andi Morse, founder and principal designer of Morse Design. The Corona Outdoor Wicker Bar Cart by Christopher Knight Home has two open shelves that can hold removable ice trays filled with beverages, as well as a roomy drawer where you can stash items like wine openers, napkins, plates, and other entertaining essentials. While we’re on the subject, take a look at these tips for throwing a flawless backyard party.
Find outdoor-friendly glassware
Sure, you could stock that pretty little bar cart with plastic cups for your next sunny soiree, but why not add even more style to your space with some colorful acrylic glassware? West Elm’s fluted acrylic glasses have a cool, modern silhouette and come in a few different colors (we’re partial to the silver pine hue). Even better, acrylic is known for its durability, and these glasses are conveniently stackable.
Pick up some pillows
“I have found that outdoor throw pillows are rarely in short supply because of the multitude of pattern, color, and size options,” says Morse. “Plus, they’re an easy and affordable way to make your patio feel fresh, new, and comfortable.” (This is a great trick to elevate your indoor space, too.) Snag a set of these outdoor throw pillow covers (inserts not included) to change things up. They come in an array of colors and designs, so there’s bound to be a pair that meets your style needs. The canvas fabric withstands the elements and also resists fading in the summer sun.
Throw a little shade
To make a space feel cozy, or even provide a little privacy, consider adding a little cover. “Curtains hung on the edges of covered porches and patios are a great way to create intimacy, provide shade, and add personality to an outdoor space,” says Youngblutt and Johnson. Nicetown Outdoor Curtains, which come in a variety of colors, are the perfect addition to a pergola or porch. Their rustproof grommets will keep the panel’s hardware looking fresh, and the fabric itself can block out the sun, providing a cool respite when you need one.
Roll out the (outdoor) carpet
“A fresh outdoor area rug or runner can spruce up a worn patio floor, as well as provide a grounding element to a seating area,” say Youngblutt and Johnson. You can also use outdoor area rugs to separate dining areas from those for lounging. If you want to bring a true vacation vibe to the space, consider one with trendy and tropical palm leaves, like this indoor/outdoor rug by Place & Time. The neutral color scheme will complement just about any outdoor space.
Think outside of the outdoor rug
Maybe you want to refresh your deck or patio floors with something that feels more durable than an outdoor rug. If that’s the case, look to patio and deck flooring options. These 11.5-inch square polypropylene tiles by Pure Garden look super chic when installed, adding a simple but uncomplicated element of design to a space. Not all patio decor ideas have to be flashy to make an impact. Just make sure to carefully measure the area you want to cover before ordering. If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, here are some ideas for stunning outdoor patio tiles.
Outdoor furniture can be expensive, so you want to make sure what you’re purchasing will last beyond a single season. “To extend the life of your investment, it’s important to consider the climate and weather conditions where you live,” says Lindsay Schleis, vice president of business development and the resident interior design expert for Polywood, the first company to create outdoor furniture from recycled plastic materials. “If you live in an area that sees high winds, for example, investing in furniture that is heavier will be well worth the money. If you live in a climate that has high exposure to sea salt and ocean air, selecting a product that won’t rust is key.” For this reason, we love Polywood’s Presidential Rocking Chair, which is as comfy as it is durable for lazy summer days outdoors.
Pro tip: Whenever possible, shop for patio furniture and the like during the big holiday-weekend sales. The same is also true for pricey indoor purchases, which is why you’ll want to check out this list of the best Labor Day sales on appliances.
Make the most of multitasking pieces
“Choosing products that are versatile for the way you want to use the space can make the biggest difference in how functional your outdoor space actually is,” says Schleis. “For example, if you like to host outdoor dinner parties, selecting a dining set is obviously key. But you should also consider incorporating ottomans, side tables, and other accessories that allow for extra seating and extra table space.” We particularly love the multitasking nature of a side table, and this bestseller from Polywood comes in so many different colors, you’ll have a hard time choosing which to add to your space. Plus, it’s super sturdy, and the material won’t fade in the sun.
If your patio or outdoor space doesn’t have much greenery, add some! What you choose will likely depend on your climate, but consider hearty plants that can be moved indoors when the weather turns cool. For example, Costa Farms’ fiddle leaf fig can hang outside but also thrives indoors with a little TLC. And this variety is small enough to sit atop a side table and won’t take up a ton of space if, say, you’re decorating a balcony. It does best in indirect sunlight, so keep that in mind when sizing up your space. If light is an issue in your home, here’s a handy guide to the best low-light indoor plants.
Give your plants a boost
Plant stands are a great way to give your greens some height and really put their beauty in the spotlight. These stands from mDesign are sold as a set of two, and they’re available in three different heights and three different finishes—rose gold, soft brass, and black. The hairpin leg design gives us major mid-century vibes, but the overall modern look can blend seamlessly into any decor style.
Position planters to add dimension to your space
“Adding greenery, whether faux or real, can really make the space look lush and full of life,” say Youngblutt and Johnson. “And now is a great time to get deals on potted plants.” Try Place & Time’s Summer Bamboo Planter to add a little height and visual excitement to your patio decor. FYI, bamboo also happens to be a great natural material for the great outdoors.
Channel some flower power
If you don’t have the room for tall potted plants, Michael Hillel, founder and CEO of direct-to-consumer outdoor furniture company SunHaven, suggests adding a few mason jars full of flowers to add a little life to your patio table. “Be sure to keep scale in mind to see your guests’ faces and not hide behind the decor,” he advises. “When in doubt, go smaller.” If you love a shabby-chic moment, try this milk-can-shaped vase that oozes French country appeal. We love that it isn’t big enough to overwhelm a table but boasts a rustic element that makes it ideal for the outdoors.
Don’t forget to look up
For really enchanting patio decor ideas, try hanging planters filled with greenery around your outdoor space. This will really help fill the area with a lush vibe. If you don’t have a green thumb, that’s OK. There are plenty of faux plants that look pretty darn real. We absolutely love the bohemian vibe of the Riseon Boho Black Metal Plant Hanger, which works just as well outside as it does indoors. The planter size is on the smaller side, so it won’t overwhelm your space but will add tons of style.
Add a tropical flair
Whether you’re enjoying your outdoor space on a random warm day or trying to create staycation vibes at home, faux plants can give the illusion of a tropical oasis. And as we’ve mentioned several times, they can add the perfect pop of color to an area. Nearly Natural’s Golden Cane Palm Artificial Tree stays true to its brand name because it looks very much like the real thing. (Hey, we can’t all live in Florida or California!) While this five-foot-tall “plant” is fully cemented into its pot, it’s easy to place it into a larger decorative planter of your choosing.
Keep games on hand
When considering patio decor ideas, don’t forget to have a little fun! If you love to entertain, appeal to the competitive or playful nature of your friends. And if you have the space, don’t underestimate the power of a classic lawn game like badminton or bocce. Games are a great icebreaker when you have new friends over—and a whimsical way to add another element to your gathering when you’re with old friends. You’ll forget you’re in your own backyard and feel transported to the country club with Franklin Sports Bocce Ball Set, which has everything you need to play the old-timey game. We love this set because while the bocce balls have some heft, kids can easily join in on the fun. If you have little ones at home, bookmark this list of classic outdoor games that will keep the kids entertained.
Find a table
Up your outdoor dining experience with the perfect patio table. If you’re feeding a family, or you love to entertain, an extendable table is the best way to go. This extendable option from Kirkland is not only in stock, but it comes with six chairs. The table also features an umbrella hole, so if you’re not placing it under a shaded patio or porch, you can style it with an outdoor umbrella (sold separately).
Set the table in style
Whether you’re creating a table for two or dining al fresco with a larger group on your patio, get just a little bit fancy. Ditch the paper plates and plastic forks in favor of a colorful melamine dinnerware set, which is perfect for outdoor use since it’s shatterproof. You can find tons of melamine plates and bowls in fun colors and designs, but we really love the style and hues of this Gibson set. The hues are so bright and joyful, they’ll instantly put a smile on your face. Plus, service for four is just $25, so you can buy a bunch without putting a serious dent in your bank account.
Utilize a simple yet stylish centerpiece
If you’re looking for patio decor for an outdoor get-together, you don’t need to go crazy with elaborate tablescapes. In fact, Hillel suggests using a serving tray as a centerpiece. “This will define some of the space on your table and help contain your decorating to a smaller area so you do not go overboard,” he says. West Elm’s lacquer wood trays look like they were made to serve this purpose, with their convenient side handles and sleek finish. Measuring 14-by-18 inches, it’s the ideal amount of space to hold a small vase and maybe some outdoorsy knickknacks for visual interest. This also makes a great hostess gift, so you may want to pick up two if you’re heading to a friend’s house for the weekend.
Bring the inside out
For true indoor/outdoor living, think of ways that you can make your patio dining area have all of the amenities that your inside dining room holds. One of our favorite ideas? Hanging a chandelier above your outdoor dining table. It makes the space feel luxurious and pulled together, and little touches like that really elevate a patio. Trent Austin Design’s Mill Valley outdoor chandelier is rustic in its style, so it blends in naturally with the outdoors. With clear cylinder shades to accommodate six light bulbs, you can dine outside well into the evening.
Use a trellis to create privacy
If your neighboring homes are a little too close for comfort and privacy is difficult to achieve, decorate with a trellis/planter box combo. The trellis offers a bit of height to make your space feel a little more exclusive, and you get the added bonus of using the planter box to grow whichever flowers and plants of your choosing to add a little color. This Calypso planter/trellis is both pretty to look at and also sits atop wheels, so you can easily move it around your space. Plus, the self-watering feature makes caring for your plants a cinch.
Combine function with fashion
“If your outdoor coffee table has an opening or visible storage, use it to hold throw pillows or blankets for those cool nights, or extra towels,” says Hillel. Of course, if your existing patio coffee table or ottoman doesn’t have this feature, you may want to invest in outdoor storage that is appealing to the eye. We like this weather-resistant resin storage box because it’s super roomy, with 165 gallons worth of space, and blends in well outdoors. It’s easy to assemble and fits more than you think it will—from couch cushions to pool floats.
Create a cozy conversation spot
If you want to decorate a patio with furniture but don’t have a lot of space, consider a conversation set. These usually consist of three pieces, like two chairs and a small side table, that don’t take up much room and are ideal for small spaces. This Latitude Run wicker set is a prime example. We appreciate that cushions are included and that, while compact, the chairs are wide enough to seat someone comfortably and sturdy enough to feel supportive.
Step up your garden decor
If it’s a whimsical garden vibe you crave, play up your patio with decorative stepping stones. You can find them in all kinds of intricate designs—just make sure to choose a set that’s made of durable, all-weather material, like this three-piece set from Plow & Hearth. Crafted in soft, neutral shades, the set includes one of each pattern: butterfly, daisies, and a dragonfly made from resin rock. They’re hefty enough that they won’t move around your garden unless you want them to but easy enough to relocate if you do. For a different type of look, these container garden ideas also make a statement.
Know when to splurge
“Paying more for your outdoor living furniture is always a good investment,” says Morse. “More often than not, the cheaper options can only withstand one season. Ideally, you want to get at least three years out of your outdoor items, weather permitting.” You might feel like you’re lounging at the spa instead of just outside your own home with this Ovios New King 12-piece set, which comes with cushions and a furniture cover to keep your purchase well protected. What we really love, though, is that the set comes fully assembled, so you can put that Allen wrench away. That makes splurging on this patio decor idea more than worth it in our book.
“It’s so relaxing to lose track of time on my patio on a beautiful summer day, but the reality of my to-do list always pops up, and ultimately, we’re all on a schedule,” says Brittany Zachos of the Zachos Design Group. “An outdoor wall clock makes a design statement and keeps your day on track.” She loves Hearth & Hand with Magnolia’s metal corner clock for its simplicity.
Incorporate conversation starters into your space
Whether quirky or quaint, a garden statue can be quite the conversation piece. “I’m a big fan of talk pieces—decor items that spark conversation and elevate a space from expected to delightful,” says Zachos. “A small outdoor statue that’s cleverly placed can liven up an outdoor patio and is fun for kids and adults alike to discover.” Personally, we can’t think of anything cuter than a sweet little bunny. This little garden statue is just 14 inches in height and weighs in at 15 pounds since it’s made of concrete.
Hang wind chimes to promote relaxation
There’s just something about wind chimes—they have a breezy, calming effect, even on the most stressful of days. “A wind chime softly playing in a summer breeze is a soothing sound that always makes a house feel like a home,” says Zachos. “I prefer to find a nice tree near the outdoor patio to hang mine from.” We’re absolutely smitten with this glass bird wind chime, with its seemingly delicate light blue bird at the top. In the evening, the bird actually glows, thanks to a soft, solar-powered bulb, adding to its charm.
Find your zen
If you don’t think you have enough room for a soothing patio fountain, think again! There are some lovely tabletop options that can elevate your space in a pinch. This Resin Buddha tabletop fountain is a favorite because it’s super quiet except for the calming sound of trickling water. Customize its look by adding a few stones or crystals at the base. Did we mention this fountain also has an illuminating LED light? Perfect for adding a little glow to a side table. Here are more ways to clear your mind.
Craft a chill-out area
If you have the space, a hammock is a must. No trees to hang one from? No worries. Vivere’s super popular hammock, which has more than 23,000 five-star reviews, comes with a space-saving steel stand for an easy, breezy setup. The hammock itself is made from heavy-duty cotton, so you’ll feel safe and secure as you laze about in this beauty. We particularly love that it comes in a bunch of brightly colored patterns and also has a carrying bag in case you want to bring it with you camping or transport it to a vacation home.
Make a seating statement
We love a great rocking chair or lounge set, but we really love a basket chair. It’s comfortable, whimsical, and oh-so-stylish. This conversation chair from Lowe’s is so cute, it’ll make the person sitting in it feel like they’re in their own little world, especially if they also happen to be engrossed in one of the best summer reads. The rattan canopy is held firmly in place thanks to the light brown metal frame, and cozy cushions are made with water-resistant fabric to help protect them from fickle summer weather. Just be careful: Once you sit down in this sweet seat, you may never want to stand up.
Play with patterns
Garden stools can serve as a convenient side table or a pretty display piece. They also provide the perfect opportunity to bring some different patterns and color onto your patio. This blue-and-white ceramic stool from Safavieh brings an elegant and feminine feel with its chinoiserie design and charming blue birds. It stands 18.5 inches tall and 13 inches in diameter, so it’s just the right size to tuck next to a chair or in a patio corner.
Don’t neglect the walls
We don’t always think of hanging wall decor when we’re outside because, well, it’s generally so open. Plus, when you’re in nature, there’s plenty else to look at. But if you find yourself with a patio that’s either partially enclosed or has some wall space, have a little fun with decor that can hold up to the outside elements. The motif you choose can reflect your surroundings or a natural aesthetic. Red Barrel Studio’s Tree of Life wall accent comes in a variety of different hues, but each has a waterproof clear coating for a little weather protection. Speaking of walls, did you know that this paint color could sell your house for $6,000 more?
Take a different garden approach
If you don’t have a lot of square footage to your patio or yard but really want to decorate with a garden or some type of greenery, flat-backed planters are a unique option. These vertical planters not only provide decor to wall space, but it’s also all you need to garden without infringing on precious space that you could use for outdoor furniture. The Gracie Oaks Andrei metal wall planter is fantastic because it can either hang from a fence or remain freestanding against a wall. Fill the four planter rows with flowers, herbs, or other plants suitable to your climate.
Make a pit stop
Nothing creates ambiance outdoors like a fire table, and it makes a fantastic centerpiece for outdoor seating. We love this option from allen + roth because of its beautiful design with a black granite top and gray stone detailing. Plus, it’s sturdy, arrives fully assembled, and is simple to use with an electronic push-button ignition. Liquid propane also offers a clean, smokeless burn. Basically all you’ll need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the fire. Setting up a fire pit is one of the easy home projects and patio decor ideas you’ll wish you’d done sooner.
Set the mood with candles
Not every space can accommodate a fire table, but it’s pretty likely that no matter how small the area, you can add some candles. “Use an array of pillar candles for dimension and mood,” says Hillel. “If you don’t have pillar candles, any candle will do!” If you have small children or just don’t love the idea of using a real flame, this set of battery-operated pillar candles are near-perfection. You’ll get nine candles of varying heights to give you that dimension Hillel mentioned. On top of that, they actually come with a remote control so you can set the mood from afar and even program a daily timer to turn them on.
Create a private pop-up space
If you’ve always dreamed of having a gazebo in your backyard but worry you don’t have the space for it, consider a pretty pop-up option that’s easy to put up and take down in the colder seasons or when it isn’t in use. This 11-foot steel option from Sol 72 Outdoor comes in great neutral colors and helps provide a cool escape with its vented shade. Another great feature? The mesh-paneled curtains that are transparent, so you can enjoy being outside while keeping mosquitoes away. That said, if you need a little more protection, try these mosquito repellents.
Section off different patio areas
Your outdoor area will feel extra luxe if you create mini “rooms” to divide up the space. For example, you can make a distinct section just for lounging by putting up decorative screen panels to divvy up the area. We think Barrette Outdoor Living’s decorative screen panel is such a pretty way to put this design plan into action. It’s available in a few different finishes, and the company also has a frame kit available for purchase if you want to stack multiple panels to create a whole wall of screens.
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