Palette Magazine

Think Outside the Box with Your Outdoor Décor

By Rick Karlin

Dora Maar Planter:
Dora Maar Planter:

In creating a welcoming outdoor room, follow the same guidelines as you would in creating an indoor space; define areas, pay attention to lighting, provide a focal point and above all, make it comfortable. In addition, for an outdoor space you want to provide storage (those seat cushions won’t look nice for long if exposed to the elements 24/7) and provide protection from the sun and rain.


Define Areas

Outdoor area rugs can create a sense of space, but so can a patio of flagstones set into grass or a ground cover. To make a quick and easy patio, create a frame of treated lumber and line it with inexpensive paver bricks.



Hang hurricane candle lanterns from an overhead arbor or pergola above a table for an outdoor chandelier. To keep hurricane lights on tables from toppling over in the wind, drill through the bottom to anchor them to the surface. LED solar lights also provide a welcoming glow at night.


Focal Point

There are many ways to achieve a bright focal point in the space. Paint a fence or wall adjoining the outdoor room a dramatic color and then hang a mirror or vintage window. You can also buy an inexpensive picnic table and paint it an unexpected color.

A fountain not only provides a focal point, but it can mask the sounds of traffic and make your outdoor space more tranquil.


Protection from the elements

The key to maintaining outdoor décor isn't just about upkeep; you have to also protect everything from the elements. Consider creating an inexpensive sun shade or attaching a canvas painter’s tarp to tall bamboo, anchored in pots or strapped to a sturdy railing. Remember to install it at an angle steep enough to allow rain water to run off.

Patio umbrellas don’t need to pop out of a dining table. A number of free-standing styles are available. Also consider putting the umbrella base under a side table. Just drill or cut a hole in the table to accommodate the support pole. If that umbrella is looking a little worn, consider a kitchy tiki cover.

If the area is covered and protected, hang an outdoor ceiling fan; not only does it provide a breeze, it also helps keep mosquitoes at bay.



Quality cushions make the difference when it comes to comfort. Invest in some sturdy, thick cushions for your seating and buy throw pillows in outdoor fabric to make the space more inviting.

Resin wicker not only looks and feels like the real thing, it costs less, tends to be sturdier and can be easily hosed down when it gets dirty.