by Nina Makofsky
A properly outfitted and decorated garden and patio makes a home feel like it has a bonus room or two. In warmer months, stylish patio and garden decor creates the perfect atmosphere for entertaining, dining outdoors or just relaxing and reclining. In cooler months, the patio or porch becomes a beautiful spot to watch the rain and also can operate as a mud room for dropping off outer layers of clothing and boots. Add some seating and accents for a quick patio and garden decor makeover, or invest more time and money in a full patio redesign.
Start with a clean slate. Patio decor looks best when the patio is clean and organized. Clean the surfaces of your patio with a strong spray of water and mild soap. Dedicate a specific spot for storage and organize the area with bins, shelves or cabinets.
Floor to ceiling. Once your patio is clean and organized, add area rugs and awnings. Keep a porch cooler by adding an awning or umbrella. An outdoor area rug, such as a bamboo mat or sisal rug, adds texture to the porch flooring while helping you to design the layout of the space. Laying down your outdoor area rugs first will make arranging patio chairs and tables much easier.
Invest in seating. Nothing makes a porch more functional than comfortable seating. A couple of Adirondack chairs in your favorite colors make for great lounging. A bistro set with metal chairs and a table provides a comfortable spot for morning coffee. A wooden rocker or a porch swing radiates country charm. If you're looking for the ultimate in outdoor comfort, consider outdoor love seats and couches that feature cushions with upholstery designed for outdoor use.
Illuminate your porch. String lights give your porch ambient lighting perfect for parties or relaxing. Tiki torches and luminaries can line the yard near the porch. For brighter lighting, an over-size paper lantern adds a soft, warm glow. If you have a covered or enclosed porch, think about hanging a ceiling fan light to provide light as well as regulate the temperature.
Accessorize your porch decor. An outdoor fireplace, chiminea or patio heater welcomes lounging around even when the weather turns cool. Bright floor cushions and accent pillows add bursts of color and patterns. Bird feeders and birdbaths or outdoor fountains and wind chimes add lovely details. You can also integrate the surrounding natural landscape by decorating your porch with potted plants displayed on planters, hangers and stands.