Think of your deck or patio as an extension of your home. A comfortable outdoor space acts like a magnet that pulls you outside to read the morning paper, curl up with a favorite book, or relax with the setting sun.
To create an easy transition, match outdoor furnishings to inside décor. For example, if your home has country-style furnishings, carry the theme outside with old-fashioned porch rockers or a metal glider. Use wrought iron furniture outside to complement traditional furnishings inside. Wicker has a natural look and new wicker furniture made of resin is weatherproof and can be left out year-round.
Choose multipurpose furnishings that can do double duty, such as a storage box with a seat that keeps outdoor gear dry and neatly stored while also providing seating. A gardeners potting bench is convenient for planting chores and can be re-used as a buffet for entertaining. And an old-fashioned kids wagon is handy for moving heavy bags of fertilizer and serves as a charming accent when filled with geraniums.
When selecting cushions for outdoor furniture, choose fabric that is mildew-resistant and ultraviolet-protected so the cushions resist soil and stains and withstand sun damage.
For outdoor dining and entertaining, theres a wide selection of gas grills and cooking islands. While a basic grill is the choice of many, the gourmet chef can make an outdoor kitchen complete with grill, built-in range, side burners, warming drawers, even a compact sink and refrigerator.
The most colorful and versatile accessory for a deck or patio is flowering plants and herbs. Use them in hanging baskets, planter boxes, urns, clay pots, or on a tabletop.
A copper outdoor thermometer and clock or decorative wall sconces with candles that cast a warm, inviting atmosphere at night make good accessories.
For sun protection, get a colorful umbrella designed to fit in the center hole in outdoor tables or let it stand alone in a decorative cast-iron base. One that is vented at the top or a two-tier design is more stable in winds.
For a more permanent solution to sun protection, consider adding a retractable awning on the siding of your house. You pull on a strap to unroll the awning and then set the supports, which can be angled against the house or set vertically on the deck or patio floor.