5 Outdoor Decorating Rules to Live By

10 outdoor decorating rules to live by

On a gorgeous Spring day, there’s nothing more luxurious than enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, but before you can do that, you’ve got to get your outdoor room in order. We think of decorating outdoor rooms like you would your living room — comfortable seating, a tight grouping of furniture, fluffy pillows, and enough side tables for guests to put down a drink. While you’re decorating your porch or patio, follow these simple decorating rules to create the ultimate outdoor retreat.

Mix and match furniture finishes and styles in your outdoor room     

1. Mix and Match

On our recent podcast episode with Suzanne Kasler, we talk about mixing and matching furniture. If you wouldn’t buy a matching suite of living room furniture, why would you do the same with your outdoor furniture? Consider using a variety of finishes and furniture styles. In the space above, we’ve mixed the graywash teak finish of our Sunday Porch Swing with our Giardino Armchair. Then, we brought in a third finish with our scalloped Maya Coffee Table. These three pieces have different shapes, styles, and finishes, but they all work together to create a comfortable, layered space.

Don't let your outdoor furniture distract from the natural elements around you

2. Let Nature Be Your Focal Point

We love Bunny Williams’ rule of not letting your outdoor space outshine all of the gorgeous nature around you. If you have a plush lawn, tree cover, or a beautiful garden, use your outdoor furniture as a way to enjoy those elements rather than distract from them. In the patio above, we chose a quiet color palette to really let the lush landscape be the focus. It’s a great lesson to remember, sometimes less is more.

Accessorize with plants in your outdoor space

3. Accessorize with Plants

Rather than cluttering up your outdoor space, consider accessorizing with greenery and flowers. Container gardens, small pots, and even trees in large planters are all you need to accessorize your patio. 

Define your outdoor room with a rug and furniture arrangement

4. Define Your Room

One of the most challenging parts of decorating an outdoor room is defining your seating area from the rest of your yard. Without defining the space, your outdoor furniture can look like it’s floating on your patio or on your lawn without purpose. There are two great ways to do this. First, choose an area of your patio that naturally feels separated from the rest of your yard, like with a different hardscaping material or in an area close to your house. The other option is to use an outdoor rug which can link all of your furniture pieces together.

Take color cues for your outdoor space from nature

5. Take Color Cues fro Your Surroundings

Each year when your flowers start blooming, a whole new color palette reveals itself in your garden. Let those natural elements guide the color palette of your outdoor furniture. In the space above, gorgeous sprays of limelight hydrangeas create a lush hedge. Our Seneca Stripe in Spa has light blues, greens, and taupes that tie the hydrangeas to the blues in the pool to the natural stone. The finished look feels pulled together and effortless.

Find more outdoor decorating ideas, or browse our Outdoor Decor Pinterest boards.

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.