By Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor
In spring it's time to get outside and enjoy your patio. So make the most of your space without a huge investment of time or money by planting, scrubbing and accessorizing your way to a renewed outdoor room.
From the free (rearranging furniture) to the smart (increase space with a mirror) and easy (roll out a rug), these practical tips should spark your imagination and guide you in improving your patio this weekend. Let's get started.
1. Renew plantings. Fresh, vibrant plants can transform the look and feel of your patio, so any investment you make here is well worth your while. Give existing plantings a little TLC, remove dead leaves and spent blooms, and water well.
If you have empty pots to fill, make a trip to the garden center and choose new plants. Be sure to select healthy plants that are suited to the light levels of your patio -- and don't hesitate to ask for advice if you need it.
2. Make a fresh start. Giving your patio a top-to-bottom spring cleaning can do wonders. Sweep away leaves and other debris, clean patio furniture, wash exterior windows and hose down the floor. Toss out any junk that has accumulated in the area -- pile of broken flowerpots, I'm looking at you!
3. Find your focal point. Think about what you use your patio for, and what you would like to use it for in the future. Is the furniture arranged in a way that makes sense for your needs?
Just as in your living room, it usually looks best to pull the furniture away from the walls. Experiment with different arrangements until it feels right.
4. Define the border. Edging your patio area with plants can help your space feel more inviting and intimate. Planters filled with shrubbery make an excellent border. In a patio that is open to a larger yard, they can stand in as a fence alternative, but even in a small space, they can soften the fence line.
5. Think about the style and mood you want to create. Sleek, modern and cheerful? Moody, lush and eclectic? Try to nail down the look and feel you want in a few words, and use them to help you make decisions when you are out shopping.
Every piece in the space shown here contributes to the mood, from the intricate carved wood furniture and deep blue-gray hues to the batik- and ikat-patterned cushions, soft lighting and bowl of bright tangerines.
6. Hang a mirror. Hanging a mirror on an exterior wall or fence is a great way to create a feeling of spaciousness on a small patio. Choose a mirror frame that can stand up to the elements, and hang it in a covered area.
7. Soften corners with plants. Sharply angled corners are not only a challenge to decorate, but if left empty they can make a space feel cramped and uncomfortable. Fill in tight corners with potted plants to soften the angles -- tall plants and topiaries work especially well.
8. Choose a color scheme. Sticking to two or three colors throughout the space will help your patio look polished and put-together. Here blue and yellow are used in the table setting and wall fountain, creating an exciting contrast with the vibrant pink bougainvillea.
9. Get plump new pillows. It's said often because it is so true: Fresh throw pillows can change the look of a space in an instant. Outdoor fabrics are best, because they are designed to resist sun bleaching and mildew.
If you can't resist using indoor pillows on your patio, simply keep a storage bench in a protected spot at hand to throw them into, and they should last outdoors for a long time.
10. Roll out an indoor-outdoor rug. An outdoor seating area instantly becomes cozier and more welcoming with the addition of a rug. For a dining area, the rug should be large enough to fit beneath the chairs when they are pulled out slightly. For a couch seating area, the rug can fit either under all of the furniture or just beneath the coffee table and reach to the front feet of the furniture (as shown here).
11. Add a freestanding umbrella. On an uncovered patio, an umbrella is a must. The freestanding type gives you much more flexibility to place it where it is needed, and will work with any table or chairs.
12. Pot a pair of trees. Want to add major drama? Pot two trees in oversize pots and use them to flank a door or gate. Check with your local nursery to find out which varieties do well in your area.
13. Add a small, charming note. Sometimes, especially on a small patio, all you need is one just-right accent to make the whole space come to life. A potted geranium on a colorful café chair could be all you need.