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8 Feel-Good Fixes for Outdoor Entertaining Spaces

by Susan Redman

Got an outdoor space that needs a little decorating love? Get inspiration from these simple ideas, then invite over your clan for a catch-up

We all know that food looks more appealing when you serve it in different styles of dishes on a beautifully decorated table, so why not do the same for your whole outdoor entertaining space? From overhead canopies to hanging up artwork on a ho-hum garden wall, these non-permanent ideas can get your space ready for social interaction in jiffy.

1. Create a cool vibe with a sun-smart umbrella

You can escape the strong summer rays with a large patio umbrella but in doing so also add a decorative element to your outdoor entertaining set-up. An umbrella will not only provide cool shade over your dining setting but can also add an instantly impressive smart graphic element or pop of colour to a plain-looking outdoor space.

2. Perk up the space with plants

Plants keep an outdoor space from feeling too conventional and one-note. Create an instant welcoming sensation by filling your outdoor entertaining area with plenty of plants; especially if the area is a courtyard or a mostly hard-surfaced space that is not in view of a garden. 

Arrange varying height and sized leafy pot plant collections to give the space a fresher, more sophisticated look. Add trellised vines to walls and bunch together small groups of pot plants on tables. Choose low-maintenance plants that thrive in natural sunlight, such as succulents. Species with flowers, such as kalanchoe and sedum, are even smarter picks as they offer pops of colour.

3. Add an awesome awning

A fantastic way to add the wow factor to an outdoor entertaining event is to drape a fabric canopy over the proceedings. It might take you a little while to rig one up, but with a little ingenuity it shouldn’t be too difficult. Use a fence to tack up the end of the fabric piece, as seen in the example pictured here, and then take advantage of other garden structures, or tree limbs, to tie, attach then drape the pretty fabric lengths over a table set for lunch. Your guests will not benefit from the shade it provides but also from the feeling of being cocooned in a kind of glamping set-up while enjoying an alfresco event at your home.

4. Elevate the look with accessories

To create an impression, bring in sculptural-looking accessories, such as these wire tables, chairs and lanterns, in different colours and heights. Then add couple of rugs and a range of outdoor furniture to present a easy, breezy dining and chill-out zone.

Search outdoor umbrellas on Houzz.

5. Play around with pillows

Cushions and pillows allow you to quickly add a pop of colour and to even work in some texture. Try natural fibre pillows covers, such as those made in cotton or linen fabrics in hues that tie in to (but aren’t identical to) the colour of a rug or other accessory. A white wicker sofa is timeless and versatile, but topped with vibrant colour-coordinated pillows (here, featuring pink flamingoes) the whole look is lifted to evoke a tropical atmosphere. 

Browse outdoor cushions to suit any style.

6. Layer a rug

Here’s an easy decorating move that will ramp up an outdoor room. In a spacious area – or in one that is made from a material that predominates, such as the timber decking and cladding pictured here – the best way to define the seating area and to ground the furniture is to add a vibrant outdoor rug. The warm brown tones of the wood and furniture make an ideal backdrop for a bright (in this case, blue) patterned floor covering.

Shop a wide variety of outdoor rugs.

7. Right-size your furniture

This long and narrow outdoor patio requires furniture that not only fills the space but is still easy to manoeuvre around. A long wooden bench seat confirms the border of the spot that the homeowner has selected to set up a dining setting and a lighter metal dining table and chairs has been pulled up against it, making the arrangement feel right just. Infill with tall potted plants to create a cosy but varied scene.


8. Wake up a blank wall

Just because you have a luscious vine-covered green wall doesn’t mean you should skip the wall decor. Cover it with frames, flowers, plastic coloured toy windmills even, to break up the heaviness of all that dark green. You also can’t go wrong with different shaped mirrors, which bounce the light around and make your outdoor room more welcoming.