Want to entertain guests outdoors this summer?

Whether you want to host a dinner party on your patio or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee alone on a cool, summer morning, you’ll want your outdoor space to look great, reflect your personality, and tell a story.

The good news? Getting your outdoor space warm weather-ready doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.

Here are seven simple patio decorating ideas to spruce up your outdoor space for the summer months.

Outdoor Spaces - 2

Can you use old furniture? Yes!

1. Use what you have.

For an affordable take on redecorating for the summer, take a good look at your current outdoor space. Perhaps you have an old patio furniture set that you were thinking of throwing away. Before you toss it, reconsider! Give new life to old furniture with a few small and simple changes.

Take the photo to the right, for example. When I began working with a client on this space, the patio furniture was a few years old, the cushions were faded, and in general, the set looked a bit tired and worn-out. Even still, the furniture was completely functional, so I worked with a reupholsterer to recover the cushions with a neutral colored fabric and purchased colorful accent pillows and accessories to bring the space to life. Voila! Old furniture can make for a beautiful new piece for your backyard with a little craftiness and creativity.

Quick tip: Before you toss old furniture, consider what small changes you could make to use those pieces in a new way for a budget-friendly makeover to your outdoor space.

2. Choose the right fabric.

Once you commit to sprucing up your outdoor area, you want your investment to last. One way to do this is by choosing the right fabric for your furniture upfront to make the space beautiful for years to come.

For outdoor spaces, I always recommend a Sunbrella fabric – it’s both weather and stain-resistant, and in general, doesn’t fade. Sunbrella fabrics are also extremely easy to keep clean; simply brush off dirt and wipe spills away as they occur – and for a deeper cleaning, bleach and a mild detergent generally do the trick quite easily.

Quick tip: Choose a Sunbrella fabric when selecting a fabric for your outdoor furniture.

Outdoor patio decorated by Staging Spaces and Design.

The cream color complemented other pieces.

3. Think neutral.

If you plan to purchase a new furniture set or reupholster an old one, consider selecting a neutral palette or cream colored fabric for your main piece of furniture. A neutral palette gives you a blank slate to redesign and enhance your space as often as you’d like.

In this pictured here, I selected a solid cream colored fabric, but spiced up the set with colored and patterned throw pillows, greenery and other accessories to allow the space to tell a story. If you get bored easily or like to change your look seasonally, choosing a neutral color allows you the opportunity to easily make those changes to reflect your personality and design preferences.

Quick tip: Selecting a neutral tone for your patio furniture gives you the chance to get creative with accent colors and accessories.

4. Add a pop of color.

Now’s where things start to get fun! Add a pop of color to your space to showcase your personality and create a different theme for every season. One of the easiest and most cost effecitve ways to accessorize is to purchase accent pillows in whatever color, style, or design you like the most.

In the examples, I opted for solid navy throw pillows, patterned navy throw pillows, and one unique patterned orange pillow to bring the space together cohesively. Hint: I often recommend pillows from Ballard Designs or Pottery Barn. Color can also be added to your space in a variety of other ways including fresh flowers, greenery, outdoor area rugs, dishware and other accessories.

Quick tip: Wondering about the hottest colors for Summer? Lime green, coral, along with blues, reds, and oranges paired with creams are very ‘in’ right now.

Patio Decorating ideas - bar cart and area rug

Great area rug & bar cart!

5. Accessorize.

Once you’ve selected a color scheme, you can purchase accessories to make your outdoor space more interesting and engaging. For example, the candle lanterns pictured were purchased from Pottery Barn and give the space a welcoming, warm feel, perfect for day or night entertaining. You can also purchase different kitchenware, including dishes, bowls and other entertaining pieces, specifically recommended for outdoor spaces from stores like Bed Bath and BeyondHomeGoods and Pottery Barn.

One of the biggest trends in interior design right now is adding an outdoor area rug to a space for an extra pop of color. These rugs from Ballard Designs are specifically made to endure the elements, yet still feel great and provide color and comfort to an outdoor entertaining area.

Quick tip: bar cart is a super fun (and functional!) accessory to add to any outdoor space.

6. Use greenery.

One of the simplest ways to truly make an outdoor space come alive is by adding strategically-placed greenery. Plants can add a natural, vibrant and earthy feel when entertaining on a deck or patio. Pots and planters, along with seasonal plants, can be purchased inexpensively from places like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Additionally, a vase with fresh, seasonal flowers can add a touch of elegance to any space.

Quick tip: Sick of throwing away plants at the end of the season? Here are 10 plants that live year-round, perfect for keeping your space beautiful on a budget.

7. Light it up.

If you plan on spending a lot of time in your backyard this summer, be sure that your outdoor space flawlessly transforms from day to night using different types of lighting. I utilized recess lighting in the gazebo area as well as outdoor patio floor lamps in the seating area to keep the space bright from day to night. Candles and lanterns are also an easy and inexpensive way to add ambience to an outdoor space; they can be purchased from almost any store that sells home goods and are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and designs.

For a fun and glimmering twist on traditional lighting, consider purchasing patio string lights.

Quick tip: Battery-operated candles create ambiance and also provide for a safe and kid-friendly outdoor space.

What are you waiting for? Put these seven simple ideas into effect, send out those invites for your first summer soiree, and get ready for a fabulous season of outdoor entertaining in your spruced-up space!

Need a little help translating these tips into action? Contact Staging Spaces and Design for a consultation!

What are some other ways to spruce up your outdoor space for summer? Share your tips in the comments below.

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Dana Neeld

Dana Neeld is the owner of Staging Spaces and Design. Connect with her on Google+.