14 Tips for Backyard Getaways | Midwest Living

14 Tips for Backyard Getaways

Create a comfortable, colorful outdoor space with weather-friendly furniture and accessories.

Select a spot for lounging

Take advantage of nature's lively backdrop by creating a comfortable, colorful outdoor room--perfect for escaping in your own backyard alone or with friends.

With new weather-hardy furniture, fabrics and accessories to choose from, it's never been easier--or more fun--to outfit your outdoor spaces. You don't even need a patio or deck. Just set up a chaise or two and you'll have the start of a perfect place to enjoy the summer scenery.

Telescope Casual (chaises)

Try teak

Guests will get a kick out of kicking off their shoes to lounge on a sofa in the yard. And this furniture--with its indoor-worthy looks--can handle life in the great outdoors: Low-maintenance, gold-tone teak has oils that resist mold and mildew. (Be aware, though, that it weathers to silver-gray unless treated with sealer.)

Brown Jordan (teak love seat, lounge chair and ottoman)

Room and Board (side table)

Put out stylish, weatherproof tables

The best weatherproof tables have easy-to-wipe tops, such as glass on all-weather wicker or an enamel-finish wood. To liven up your setting, add summer-color cushions or chairs, and deck the table with bowls of fruit, beach glass or pebbles.

Gloster (wicker table and stools)

Plum Party (melamine plates)

Make it moveable

Lightweight powder-coated aluminum is best for often-moved outdoor furniture pieces, such as stacking chairs. But remember to move your lightweight furniture inside when strong Midwest winds are coming!

Telescope Casual (stacking chairs)

Choose all-weather wicker

Prefer the look of wicker? Opt for an all-weather version made of durable resin. You'll find colorful, contemporary pieces as well as traditionally styled versions that look more like you borrowed them from Grandma's porch.

Jane Hamley Wells (chair)

Bring the inside out

Eating outdoors doesn't have to mean balancing plates on your lap or perching at a picnic table. Move a table to a scenic spot to create an elegant dining space that feels like an extension of your home.

Create temporary shade for parties with a weatherproof fabric canopy and wood drapery rods (tent poles work, too). For a permanent solution, cover a deck or patio with a pergola, umbrella or awning.

Landscaping also provides shelter, but before you put the table under a tree, make sure it doesn't drop messy seeds or fruits.

Laneventure (table and benches)

Bluefish Home (candle holders)

Sprout Home (white gloss Midori planter)

Diversify the furniture

Flexible-use outdoor furniture gives your guests dozens of easy ways to enjoy alfresco living. This wicker ottoman, for example, can be a casual seat, a place to rest your feet or a table to hold a refreshing drink.

Lebello (ottoman)

Accessorize to fit your style

Set your outdoor table with patterned (and indestructible) melamine or acrylic dishware. Pieces are so affordable you can mix and match practically every time you entertain.

Rosanna (melamine plates)

Janus et Cie (chair)

Pick outdoor fabrics with indoor style

The latest weatherproof acrylic fabrics for outdoor furniture have the look and feel of indoor textiles--soft chenilles, silky sheers, luxe velvets and textured boucles--yet they won't mildew or fade. Plus, you'll find them in an ever-increasing variety of colors and graphic, oversize patterns for personalizing a comfortable outdoor retreat.

Janus et Cie (chaise)

Waverly (pillow fabrics)

Sunbrella (pillow fabrics)

Laurie Bell (round pillow)

Crypton In & Out (Standard Textile pillow fabrics)

Grandin Road (outdoor rug)

Add planter panache

Celebrate your outdoor locale by using versatile planters to add color and oomph anywhere in your yard. Group coordinating pots of different sizes, and fill them with bright flowers that complement your outdoor decorating scheme.

Light the way

For a party or special day, hang lanterns on trees. Add votive candles to your outdoor tables, or fill glass votive holders with water brightened by food coloring.

Cultural Intrigue (paper lanterns, available through Luna Bazaar)

Embrace easy color

Fresh flowers in intensely hued vases are a simple outdoor addition. Even single blooms make a dramatic impact.

Design Ideas (vases)

Just add water

A blue ceramic water bowl gives a cool, fresh accent to your outdoor room. Float colorful blooms in it, or use it as a vessel for dramatic nighttime floating candles.

Better yet, incorporate a burbling fountain into your landscape to give guests soothing background sound.

Campania International (water bowl)

Stretch out and relax

Bring your brightest-colored towels outside and spread them in the sun or shade to anchor an alfresco picnic or provide a place for a summer read.

(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® March/April 2008.)

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