Accents Add Personality to a Patio

Decorations belong on your patio just as much as they belong in your home. While nature provides the ambience and some beautiful sights outdoors, you can bring your own touch to a patio. Think of your patio as a room that just happens to be outdoors, and it becomes a natural setting to decorate.
Look for nesting places

Once you've built your patio, relax on it and take it in. Notice where your gaze lingers. Those are the perfect places to put accent pieces, spots that could use decorative details. Highlight only one focal point per seating area. If you run out of patio space for decorative items, hang some on the wall. Group similar objects to establish a theme. Folk art, antique signs, or pottery pieces invite comparison, draw attention, and take on importance when displayed together. Grouped items act as a single focal point. If you put groups of items too close together, they'll fight each other for attention. The best spots for displaying accents have neutral backgrounds, such as a wall, fence, or green plants. Items that don't quite count as a collection can still establish a theme. Even if the objects are different, they might have similar shapes, colors, or textures that unify them as a group.

Space the decorative items (singles or groups) far enough apart that each one gets due notice. On the patio, wooden boxes of different heights make good display stands. Coat them with linseed oil and mineral spirits (mixed half-and-half) to enrich the wood grain and color, and protect the wood from weather. Attach shelves to the wall at different heights. Scattering the shelves on the wall rather than clustering them prevents clutter and helps create a larger display space. If your patio is linear and formal, you can hang the shelves on the same horizontal or vertical planes. Offset the tops and edges of the shelves for variety. Don't forget flowers and the pots they grow in. Plain, plastic warehouse pots will detract from the overall appearance of your design scheme. Discount retailers carry a wide variety of stylish, inexpensive containers made to match almost any theme.

Fancy this...

Worried about the right or wrong way to display personal details on your patio? Don't be. There aren't any rules -- only suggestions.

  • Mobiles and wind chimes catch the breeze and add a vertical element to the predominantly horizontal lines of the patio. Wind chimes add lively sound.
  • Seashells and other small objects have more appeal when they appear half hidden behind the sides of shadow boxes.
  • If there's an object you can't live without, but there's no obvious way to display or support it, lean it against a flowerpot on the patio.
  • Mount driftwood on a blank wall and train vines to drape its contours.
  • Paint a piece of battered barn wood to look like a circus clown, a butler, or another character. The contrast between the color of the weathered wood, its rough texture, and the paint is reminiscent of folk art. On a smaller scale, hang a similar small figure from the rafters of an overhead structure.
  • Stand a weather vane in a flowerpot that's thick with blooms to draw attention to the seasonal color of the blooms.
  • Create a sculpted array with metal flowers arranged in rows. They make an interesting foil rising behind containers planted with the real thing.
  • Old sporting goods and backyard game equipment are appropriate dressings for a patio. Display croquet mallets and balls in a croquet rack, as if ready to use, for instance. If you're a golfer or tennis player, decorate with retired clubs or racquets. Stand clubs in a used golf bag or hang racquets on a wall.
  • Consider replacing your metal or vinyl-clad storm door with a well-made wooden screen door. Home centers carry them in a variety of styles with both plain and decorative panels.
  • Hanging old silverware or other unexpected (small) objects from an arbor makes a delightful display. Sparkly or silver objects reflect random light patterns onto the patio.
  • Add color with home-sewn pillows covered with colorful patterns in acrylic awning fabrics. Acrylics won't fade like cotton canvas fabric, and hold up a long time even when exposed to weather. Use synthetic fillers to stuff the pillows.


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