Think of your deck or patio as an extension of your home. A comfortable outdoor space that acts like a magnet to pull you outside to read the morning paper, curl up with a favorite book or relax with the setting sun.
1. An outdoor copper thermometer and clock or decorative wall sconces with candles that cast a warm, inviting atmosphere at night make good accessories for outdoor rooms.
2. The most colorful and versatile accessory for a deck or patio is flowering plants or herbs. Use them in hanging baskets, planter boxes, urns, clay pots or on a tabletop.
3. 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 can 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 gardener’s potting bench is convenient for planting chores and can be reused 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.
6. For outdoor dining and entertaining, there’s 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 and even a compact sink and refrigerator.
7. To create an easy transition, match outdoor furnishings to inside decor. 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.