Outdoor Furniture: Tips for Personalizing Your Patio
I have this fantasy that someone with authority–Homeland Security or maybe Martha Stewart–puts me in charge of confiscating and destroying all white plastic lawn furniture.
Seriously, we have to find a resting place for this eyesore. Now I know they are a great convenience at parties, as they can be easily thrown in the pool or under a hose to wash off those nasty beer spills and hot dog relish, but I must warn you: I’m on a Search and Destroy mission, my friends.
Step away from the plastic chair! Granted, outdoor living furniture has gone off-the-charts popular with some pieces costing more than the accumulative total of every item inside the house, right down to the hairy dog bed. The good news is, with a little bit of hunting skill and a sense of adventure, you can turn your outdoor space into quite the oasis, all on a reasonable budget!
When creating an outdoor living space, try working around these three key points:
- Comfort and Convenience
Dining outdoors can be done on the most frugal of budgets if you combine garage sale/flea market finds and a few new items. Old picnic tables are a steal if you can find them–and don’t worry about the condition of the table, because you can either sand and seal, or even better (because it’s so easy), throw a festive tablecloth over it. I adore the Mediterranean Prints, with the olive branches in gorgeous outdoor colors, but the good old-fashioned check prints are still fun and never out of style! If the table has a lot of splinters, you can put a piece of tarp down first or find a tablecloth with rubber backing, especially made for the outdoors. Instead of using old, worn benches which are not that comfortable, try mixing and matching used, high back wooden chairs around the table. You can even paint the chairs in accenting colors to match the table cloth.
If you don’t have the space for a picnic table, choose a small, round table, preferably with a glass top for easy cleaning and sturdy enough to withstand breezy nights. I like a medium sized bistro table made out of rod iron and matching chairs with fluffy cushions. But for the larger spaces, the long, rectangular picnic table is such a great way to share dinner with friends on a warm summer night.
Comfort: Don’t forget to invest in some sturdy umbrellas if you are in direct sunlight. Nothing ruins a great meal like sunburns and a wilted salad. You can find some great deals on outdoor umbrellas at Home Decorators Collection and Patio World.
Also, if there’s no breeze comin’ over that mountain/burb fence, borrow a tip from model photographers and plug in a large fan to blow a gentle wind on your glamorous guests. Everyone will look and feel fabulous and you will be named Host of the Year.
I love a quick after-dinner nap in a hammock! Hammocks also add that relaxed Island flair to any outdoor space and are relatively low in expense. I found some excellent Hammocks.com deals.
Also, high on the comfort list are anti-bug products. Unless you are a fan of Bug Zap Theater, please don’t hang a bug zapper anywhere near your lovely table. While some might find it efficient and entertaining, it’s not exactly appetizing and might offend your guests. Invest in some Citron candles to keep the majority of flying insects away and I’ve also heard that fabric softener sheets keep the yellow jackets and bees at bay. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks to keep our little neighbors to themselves!
Ambiance: As is the case for indoor decorating, style is in the details. I love flea markets for great outdoor finds that add a touch of the unusual. Choose items that speak to you, make you smile or even raise an eyebrow. I found a wild, painted tin monkey to put in a tree. OK, I didn’t purchase it, I’m just sayin’, not many people have painted faux monkeys hanging in trees. That could account for fifteen minutes of conversation over dinner…
White Christmas lighting creates great ambiance all year long. Thanks, Santa! Also, Cost Plus World Market usually has a good selection of outdoor lighting. Tiki torches are another favorite, but the only problem there is you can’t fall asleep in the hammock while simultaneously managing your open-flame lighting. Fire Marshall Bill would not approve! Another cool lighting trick is to hang mirrors to reflect light in dark areas of the garden, etc. Just make sure the mirror will never reflect the direct sun and is anchored securely to the fence/post.
Fountains are a wonderful addition to any outdoor space and come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit your space and look. Try DecoratorFountains.com for lots of variety. Currently, they are also offering free shipping.
The possibilities are endless when creating a gorgeous outdoor space: mixing and matching fabrics, wood finishes, lighting, painted monkeys…I could go on and on. But one thing is clear: there’s just no room for white plastic furniture! Mission accomplished!