With summer having firmly taken hold, there is nothing I love more than to get outside and enjoy it. We have spent many hours over the last few years lovingly tending to our yard…planting, fertilizing, grooming. And all of the blood, sweat and tears has been worth it, our backyard is definitely our little oasis.
This year, in addition to the raised planters that we added for a little growing space to enjoy with the kids, we decided to update our patio area to finish things off. Our old, tired patio set had seen better days and earlier this spring we started to look around to see what was out there. I love neutral greys and have absolutely fallen in love with this beautiful, oceany shade of teal paired with it. It is so fresh and gives such an amazing contrast against the greys…I just had to have it!!
So if you are looking to freshen up your outdoor space to enjoy this summer, here are my top 10 tips to pull it all together:
1- Buy the best quality patio furniture you can afford. The key is really in the quality, not the price. Our south facing backyard is subjected to the full range of harsh elements that our Alberta climate has to offer…scorching heat in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter. Cheap patio furniture just doesn’t hold up to the punishment. We saw that with our last set. This time we went for something that was better constructed from materials that won’t breakdown as easily from the elements. The sturdy metal frames will take a beating and can always be refinished if needed. We do have a cushion bin tucked away out of sight where we are careful to store all our cushions when not in use. This will help prolong their life significantly.
2- Buy furniture that fits both your space and lifestyle. Just like when buying furniture for the inside of your house, you need to think about the size of your outdoor space and how you want to use it. Do you want an outdoor dining space or a lounging area? Do you have kids that will be crawling all over it or do you want an adult bar type atmosphere? Always remember to take some measurements, don’t rush and buy a set that isn’t going to fit into your space.
3- Find a focal point. Find something in your yard that you can centre your furniture around. Do you have a great view to enhance, a fireplace to enjoy or something else you can use to anchor your seating arrangement around? If not, make one! There are lots of great, inexpensive solutions out there…especially in the new world fire tables. This will help to decide what sort of seating you might be looking for and how to position it.
4- Shop the sales. Sometimes you have to be patient. Recognize when in the season you are shopping for things. At the beginning things are generally full price, wait until at least mid-way through spring and things will start to go on sale. Wait too long though and you could have very little left to choose from!
5- Make it cozy. Using pieces like accent pillows, throws, fireplace, even outdoor rugs can really help your outside patio space feel like an extension of the inside of your home. These details can add colour, texture, patterns and can, in the case of pillows and throws, be changed out fairly inexpensively for a new pop of colour each season.
6- Remember the lighting. This is pretty easy to overlook, especially if you are mostly using your patio during the day. But why not light it up a bit and extend the hours that you can enjoy it into the evening. There are great options out there for solar lights, LEDs and light strings that can give you that boost of light overhead or at ground level. Remember to layer your lighting as much as you can with at least a couple of different options to round out the look.
7- Add some greenery. Part of what is great about spending time outside is spending time around the natural elements that are apart of your yard. I love to plant as much greenery as possible, there are so many beautiful planters out there to choose from in addition to or in place of planting in the ground. The key is to choose low maintenance plants that are the right fit for your yard’s sun exposure. Although real plants are nice, artificial is a great substitute depending on your interest or ability to take care of your blooms.
8- Make a design plan with stages if time or budget requires. Does your patio need a minor tweak or a major overhaul? What sort of budget do you have to work with? It’s important to remember that it may not all come together in one season, and that’s okay. Make a plan and stick to it, buy what you need and add the extras when you can. Try to stick to a timeline of a year or two just so that you can get the full enjoyment out of it before things need to be replaced.
9- Give a thought to storage. Now that you have all this great stuff to enjoy on your beautiful patio, where are you going to keep it? Most of us Canucks are lucky to get a patio season that runs May till mid-September. So where is all of this stuff going to go for the rest of the year? There are lots of great storage bin options out there if you need something smaller than or instead of a shed. They can even become part of your patio arrangement if you can work it in, giving you some extra space for drinks or snacks while you’re entertaining.
10- Get out there and enjoy it! Hard to believe that this can sometimes be the hardest step of all! Life can get pretty hectic and it’s easy to put off getting outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and fresh air. So grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and get out there and take advantage of summer before it’s gone!