There used to be a shortage of options for outdoor furnishings, especially when it came to smaller spaces. Now, it seems there are just about as many pieces, styles, colors, materials and price points for items outside the home as there are for items inside it. And, oh, the accessories!
“The hardest part of a small outdoor space is figuring out the flow,” says Andrew Palm, a senior buyer at the garden and home store Terrain. He advises thinking about how the space will be used. Coffee in the mornings? Get a bistro set. Dinner parties at night? You’ll need surfaces for plates and cups. Choose pieces in neutrals for ultimate versatility. As for accessories, Joanna Carden, of Joanna Carden Interiors in the District, suggests limiting yourself to a strict color palette. Sticking to blues and greens, say, will make any outdoor space — no matter how small — look cohesive and purposeful. “Outdoor living has always been a part of American life,” Palm says. “But now we’re really creating a space with all of the indoor amenities, outside.”
← Balconies and patios have to do a lot with a little bit of space. That’s why Michelle Troxell, of Leesburg’s Grace Thomas Designs, likes multipurpose, foldable pieces that can be used in different ways and then tucked to the side or put into storage for the offseason. The Follie Green Outdoor 3-Piece Patio Bistro Set has steel chairs and a folding table at a welcome price point. ($149, homedepot.com).
← Don’t be a wallflower with your accessories. Choose whichever patterns and colors of the moment that you like and layer them on your neutral outdoor furniture. Digging the palm trend? Blush Label’s Little Palms Indoor/Outdoor Pillow pairs palm branches with the also-trendy pale pink ($45-$65, shopcandelabra.com).
← The rose-gold trend makes its way outside with Anthropologie’s 10-bulb Caged Bulb String Lights, adding a special touch to a balcony or deck railing ($58, anthropologie.com). “Metallics are fun, especially with string lighting,” Palm says.
← Carden’s favorite colors to use in outdoor accessories: blues and greens. “They make me think of spring. They’re always welcoming,” she says. If you like a calming effect, choose soothing aquas, limes and mints. For something energizing, try siennas and yellows. Scatter a few Cutout Glazed Ceramic Lanterns in your chosen palette and set your mood ($18, worldmarket.com).
← Carden recommends purchasing bigger outdoor pieces in neutrals for longer staying power. She likes the Ixtapa Loveseat, for example, with its bright-white PVC cords fanned out into an oval ($349, cb2.com). Add au courant accessories to the neutral base, then switch them out in the future. “It’s more affordable to change out the smaller stuff,” she says.
← As with indoor rooms, it’s important to have multiple points of light in an outdoor room for it to feel well lighted. Consider table lamps, solar lamps, string lights and, of course, lanterns for nighttime lighting. Zara Home’s White Metal Lantern is a classic find, generous enough for a pillar ($80, zarahome.com). Tip from Palm: Make sure to use citronella candles!
← “Bar carts with shelving are great pieces that can serve more than one function,” Troxell says. The East Blue Hill Serving Cart can be a table for a meal for two or a bar for a party — and then it can fold flat when not needed ($93, wayfair.com).
← When deciding what kind of furniture to have for your outdoor space, think first about how you’ll use it, Palm says. “If you’re more about living in a smaller space, then it’s more about comfort,” he says, and a pair of cushy chairs might be appropriate. Carden likes the lines on the contemporary John Vogel Outdoor Lounge Chairs ($999, westelm.com).
← Carden likes to add character and personality to a room design with accent chairs. She is fond of hanging chairs and likes CB2’s Pod Hanging Chair for its two-tone look in recyclable, hand-woven resin on a powder-coated aluminum frame ($699, cb2.com).
← Part of setting a neutral foundation for playful accessories, Carden says, is finding a rug to ground the scene. The polypropylene Rope Indoor/Outdoor Rug by Dash & Albert in graphite is washable and bleachable ($50-$1,417, dashandalbert.annieselke.com).
←“Homeowners should look at ottomans with removable tops as well as benches that open, as they provide both seating and storage,” said Michelle Troxell, of Leesburg’s Grace Thomas Designs, in an email. The Torrey All-Weather Wicker Accent Cube looks like cool-again rattan, but is made of proprietary eEcolene fibers that resist the deleterious effects of sun, heat, rain, and cold ($312, www.potterybarn.com).
← To add surfaces when hosting friends, try a transparent tray, such as Mark and Graham’s monogrammable Rectangular Acrylic Tray, for taking food, drinks or reading supplies alfresco ($59-$69, markandgraham.com).
← City balconies and quaint courtyards don’t have as much room for pot groupings, so Palm suggests hanging planter baskets instead. The Flango Hover Dish, in seven colors, can hold succulents, perennials or clusters of string lights ($98, potinc.ca).
← The line between indoor and outdoor furniture is fading. “For years, we’ve been trying to bring the indoors out,” Palm says. “But now we’re trying to bring the outdoors in.” Thus, many outdoor pieces, such as the Bayan Deluxe Loveseat, made of rustproof aluminum, would look at home in or out ($430, pier1.com).
← You can capture the best of those warmer nights when you light your sitting area well. Traditional candles help, as do lanterns, but think creatively, too. Palm notes that Terrain’s social-media director wove the Stargazer Cascade Falls throughout her hanging planters for a lush, playful look ($48-$128, shopterrain.com).
← Patio sets don’t have to match. With the Vaddo/Vasteron, Ikea pairs orange stools with a white table, both made of powder-coated steel, for style and durability ($69, ikea.com).
← To make sitting areas in an enclosed porch or veranda feel finished, hang drapes made of indoor/outdoor fabric. Not only do they add a mature touch, but they can also break chilly winds and block harsh sunlight. The Sunbrella Brice Stripe Indoor/Outdoor Drape comes in four sizes and 11 striped color patterns ($139-$169, www.potterybarn.com).
Roberts is a freelance writer. She can be found at lindseymroberts.com.