Outdoor living spaces come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe your apartment has a cozy patio. Perhaps your home has a gracious front porch with a perfect view for watching West Texas sunsets. Or maybe you have a pool to cool off in when the summer really heats up. Whatever the case may be, each space has potential.
Instead of overlooking your outdoor spaces, think of them as part of your overall home. How can that additional space be utilized? Dining, entertaining, cooking, learning or just another space to relax in. You may be surprised just how useful that space becomes.
If you are in search of patio furniture, you’ll see that it has come a long way. There are a multitude of styles, furniture configurations and price points. Head to any big box store (Sam’s Club, Target, Lowe’s etc.), local specialty store (The Fire Escape, Extreme Exteriors etc.) or online source (Frontgate, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware) and you’ll be saturated with every kind of set up imaginable.
Here are the main types of outdoor furniture you’ll choose from:
Super sturdy and weather-proof, metal outdoor furniture can be an excellent choice to consider. High end metal furniture may be more expensive now, but it should handle our rough and tough West Texas weather. Make sure you invest in quality seat cushions for added comfort.
2. Faux Wicker
This is one of my favorite materials used in patio furniture. Made from hard plastic, this woven wicker look holds up well outdoors and can be used in more traditional or sleek, modern looking styles.
Whether made of solid wooden planks or natural woven wicker, wooden patio furniture is a timeless choice. Remember that wooden patio furniture, especially when exposed to the elements, must be properly maintained and sealed to prevent cracking or splintering.
Give Plants a Chance
Potted plants can add an enormous amount of appeal to outdoor spaces. You may be drawn to an eclectic feel with playfully-mismatched pots containing plants in an array of colors. You may prefer more of a uniform look and use specific plants to achieve a preferred color palette. Whatever your style may be, there is one critical fact to consider: the hardiness zone you live in.
For those not familiar with hardiness zones, here’s a quick explanation. The USDA divides up the country into zones based on average winter temperatures. Zone 1 is the coldest and Zone 13 is the hottest. Abilene is located in Zone 8a along with other cities like Dallas, San Angelo and Fort Worth. When you understand the hardiness zone you live in, the plants you select are more likely to thrive.
Finally, assess your outdoor space before you head to the nursery to purchase plants:
• What kind of light falls on the outdoor space at different times of the day?
• How many plants do I need to fill containers or beds? Make an exact count.
• Do I have a water source nearby for watering?
• What tools and potting supplies do I need?
When you have a planting plan in place, a trip to the garden center will be less stressful.
Decorating and entertaining in outdoor areas is a lesson in form and function. Certainly there are times for paper plates, plasticware and canned drinks. But when you want things to look extra special, don’t be afraid to bring out your best. Here are some ways you can take your outdoor space from basic to beautiful.
1. Take a Seat
Invest in quality seat cushions you can use for several years. Decorative outdoor pillows can be replaced annually to add a pop of color and pattern to your seating areas.
2. Outdoor Rugs
Made from weather and mildew resistant material, outdoor rugs can be used to anchor an outdoor seating or dining area. It’s an opportunity to add color and texture to your décor as well.
3. Use the Good Stuff
Mix sturdier outdoor dinnerware with everyday items. At my parents’ patio, we used green glass water glasses and bamboo style silverware, paired with indestructible melamine dinnerware. The table was set with a crisp white linen tablecloth and topped with a sturdy waterproof topper. It’s all about mixing it up.
A fresh flower arrangement is always a treat, but sometimes it’s not in the budget. Instead, look at the resources around you. Here, fallen branches, pruned greenery and additional leaves from around the yard provide a lovely centerpiece for the table. Place them in an oversized porcelain jar and there you have it!
Outfitting patios with all the modern conveniences and luxuries has become popular in recent years. Fireplaces, televisions, outdoor kitchens, infinity pools… there seem to be no limits. But whether you enjoy a patio built for two or a backyard manicured to perfection, outdoor spaces are for everyone to enjoy.
Don’t miss out on these sweet summer days of eating a meal, watching the sun drop low in the sky, and listening to June bugs buzz around the porch light. Happy summer everyone.
By Callie Harris
Photos By Shayli Anne Photography