Vibrant accessories and durable furniture will accentuate the best parts of your patio.
Years ago, patios and decks demanded little creativity—a barbecue, picnic table and lounge chair were the necessities for most people. Today, these outdoor spaces have matured from basic and boring to intricate and interesting. Inspired by fun restaurant experiences and vacation destinations, homeowners are focusing on creating outdoor havens for entertaining and relaxing that pay homage to the sun and the season.
Nancy Lopes says many homeowners enhance their outdoor living areas by purchasing furniture and accessories that help create a relaxing outdoor oasis. “In recent years, we have seen homeowners nesting,” says the owner of Cottage Industry Modern Home Décor in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. “[They are] investing more time and money making the home an oasis—a place to hang out and get away from it all.”
Adding splashes of colour is a great way of enlivening an outdoor space.
Brian Bell of Pier 1 Imports thinks outdoor living spaces evoke nostalgic childhood memories of growing up on the lake or swimming in a friend’s pool. “[Outdoor entertaining] is fun and it’s a great way to get people together and create new memories for years to come,” he says.
Whether inspired by escapism or nostalgia, more homeowners are creating decks and patios with the goal of duplicating indoor comforts outside, including living rooms and kitchens. “People are actually creating little rooms outdoors,” says Cathy Tingley, a decorator with Terra Verde in Moncton, New Brunswick. “It’s about making an extension of your home.”
Items replicating indoor living quarters include mood lighting, sound systems and sophisticated grilling stations. Modern grills outshine traditional barbecues with warming doors, storage areas, smoking attachments, rotisseries and even built-in refrigerators.
Furniture that can withstand the elements is key for outfitting patios and decks in Atlantic Canada. Some durable choices are furniture in natural teak and cedar, recycled plastic or resin-made wicker. “Consumers are willing to spend more on something that will last,” Lopes says. “They are more aware of the fragility of our environment and products that are repurposed, recycled or produced in a conscious, sustainable manner are in demand.”
Accessories offer many options for customizing your space. “There is certainly no end to the variety of outdoor accessories for your patio,” says Lopes. “In the past few years, consumers have been investing in the patio staples—maybe a new dining table or a seating area. This summer is the time to jazz it up.”
Adding splashes of colour is a great way of enlivening an outdoor space. Pick vibrant hues with nautical designs or floral and nature motifs, such as birds, butterflies, twigs and bark. You’ll find these patterns on everything from dinnerware to placemats.
Multicoloured cushions and umbrellas in all-weather fabrics top the list of must-have accessories this year. Lopes recommends Sunbrella because of its many choices in cushions, seat covers, awnings and umbrellas. “The fabric is unstoppable,” she says. “It doesn’t fade in the sun and can even be cleaned with bleach.”
Cushions help create a cozy outdoor living room feel and will update your existing furniture. Umbrellas enhance patios and decks because they are useful, providing shade and privacy, and are available in fanciful designs. “A functional, fun option is a floral accent umbrella that will make your patio or deck bloom,” says Bell.
Of course, your deck blooms can be the traditional variety. Potted plants and shrubs will add warmth and intimacy—just be sure not to block out any great views with oversized foliage. You can achieve the same mood with lighting. Paper and hurricane lanterns add visual appeal and come in an array of colours and playful patterns.
Complementing pieces are elements of water and fire, from candles to fireplaces, pits and pots. Tingley says fire pits are popular options that can become focal points in any outdoor space. “They can go anywhere and are safe indoors,” she says, noting that most use ethanol to create the flames.
Bringing this collection of eye-catching items together is the key. Bright outdoor rugs and carpets that are easy to maintain can help you achieve the look you want. “Placing a rug under furniture helps tie a space together,” Bell says. “You can think of it as the anchor that makes everything work.”
Above all, be open to international influences, including patterns and textures from Asia, Morocco or India, and don’t forget to add your personal style. “We are seeing more options being made available, allowing homeowners to put their own stamp on their space, whether it be modern, retro or eclectic,” Lopes says.