These smart patio decorating ideas will turn your outdoor space into an inviting, entertaining-friendly oasis.
Whether it’s located in the front or back of your home, your patio has serious potential to become an inviting extension of your indoor living space. With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense to invest extra care into your patio so it feels cozy and welcoming to family and guests alike. With just a few designer-approved tweaks and some attention to detail—and lots of comfortable seating—your patio will quickly become a destination to kick back, soak up the outdoors, and make brilliant memories.
Meet the Expert
Audrey Scheck is an interior designer based in Austin, Texas, with over six years of experience remodeling both residential and commercial spaces.
Heather Goerzen is the design director at Havenly, a virtual design service.
Kellie Sirna is the founder of and principal at Studio 11 Design, a full-service interior design firm that specializes in hotels and community spaces.
Add Outdoor Furniture
Priority number one is to make sure your seating situation is on point. Comfortable seating gives your patio an indoor living room vibe, which helps this outdoor space feel more complete and intentional, says Audrey Scheck, an interior designer. And of course, it ensures a place to sit and talk, read, sip wine, or enjoy nature with friends and family.
Make sure to choose furniture that will withstand the elements. Try gliding benches, wooden rocking chairs, polyethylene Adirondacks, or weather-proof wicker or metal sets with plush cushions. If space allows, incorporate a coffee table or small side tables, suggests Scheck.
Ground Your Patio With a Rug
Set the foundation and ground your outdoor living space with a statement rug. “There are so many beautiful, affordable outdoor rugs on the market these days to speak to a variety of styles, from organic jutes and classic stripes to modern motifs,” says Heather Goerzen, the design director at Havenly. “It’s a great way to weave in texture, color, and pattern to your [patio], and welcome people in with added warmth and character.”
She recommends choosing a larger area rug so your patio feels more like a living room (a diminutive mat won’t have the desired visual impact). You can even try layering rugs for contrasting color and texture.
Consider a Fire Pit
The warm glow of a flickering fire makes any patio feel extra cozy. Try a stand-alone fire pit surrounded by seating, or consider a fire pit table that combines function with improved ambience. If space is limited, you could even try a small tabletop fire pit—evening s’mores optional, but definitely recommended.
Bold colors are making a strong comeback, says interior designer Kellie Sirna, founder and principal at Studio 11 Design. Use your front or backyard patio to lean into the trend and create a playful environment. “I’ve always been a fan of color and pattern as they offer a way to make an immediate statement. Both are also a form of self expression, which is key to authentic design,” Sirna says. “Brightly colored furniture pieces, multicolored floral and plant arrangements, and bright accent pieces like throw pillows and rugs offer multiple ways to layer in color and let your personality shine.”
To prevent things from feeling busy, Sirna recommends sticking within a certain tonal palette and integrating a couple of accent colors that are softened by more neutral pieces.
Try an Accent Wall
If your patio is enclosed, an accent wall can quickly infuse personality and whimsy to your space. Consider painting the wall a solid, splashy hue that complements your home exterior, or hire an artist to paint a beautiful mural. Plant accent walls or faux hedging can infuse more greenery and provide extra privacy, as well.
Just as intentional lighting sets the tone for inside your home, incorporating outdoor lighting enhances your patio and creates an inviting ambience. “The right lighting will highlight the beauty of your home’s exterior, while also increasing visibility at night,” says Scheck. “When space allows, we like to layer exterior lighting by using a combination of wall sconces and hanging lights to bring depth and visual interest.”
If the space is symmetrical, try hanging two sconces on either side of the door. If room is limited, flush mount lights or a string of dangling bistro lights are a nice option. Sirna suggests adding scattered lanterns for a romantic, intimate vibe.
Incorporate Planters and Greenery
Being outdoors means you’ll be surrounded by some greenery. Adding planters to your patio provides even more of a lush feel while bringing color to the space. Plants also help blend the line between your landscaping or garden and patio for more of a cohesive, immersive feel—so don’t be afraid to go big or get creative.
“Plants and florals provide an organic way to layer in an artistic element as well as naturally section off various nooks,” Sirna says. “In this way, these materials serve an aesthetic and functional purpose. Plants and flowers also provide a décor element that naturally connects with their outdoor surroundings—and are a known mood-booster.”
Personalize With Decor
The tiniest touches can really bring your outdoor patio to life. “We aim to create a space that will feel like an outdoor living room by adding décor elements, such as lanterns and weatherproof vessels,” Scheck says. Other elements you can incorporate onto your back patio include throw pillows, garden figurines, baskets with blankets, and weatherproof baubles.
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