10 common outdoor decorating mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Make the most of summer by turning your patio into the ultimate getaway with these simple solutions.

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1. Forgetting an outdoor rug. A rug brings the indoors out and is an essential part of tying a space together. Most outdoor rugs are made out of durable, fade-resistant material that’s easily cleaned with a hose. Bonus: A lot of today’s outdoor rugs are of such high quality that they can seamlessly transition into your indoor space come fall.

Ikea summer outdoor rug

Outdoor rugs, $20/each, Ikea.

2. Not taking advantage of clever storage. Don’t have space for a shed? Try multi-use furniture like coffee tables that open, storage that doubles as a bench or crates for toys and gardening tools. This integrated storage will leave your patio clutter-free and won’t compromise surface space or seating when you have guests over.

Storage bench, $99, Ikea.

3. Leaving your walls/fences untouched. This area is prime real estate for some great outdoor decorating. You can plant climbing vines, use a trellis to hang potted plants or string up some fairy lights. We also love the idea of using mirrors and old plates as fence art.


Photo, Roberto Caruso.

4. Not planning your garden for fall and next spring. Many vegetables should be planted in July or August for a fall harvest. And the popular spring-blooming peony, for example, should be ordered during the summer months and planted in the fall. Check out our rookie’s gardening guide for more tips.

Photo, Nancy Fortune.

5. Unpleasant lighting: Just like indoors, lighting is crucial and can make or break your backyard oasis. To create a warm glow when the sun goes down, fill your garden and patio space with votives, hang lanterns and fairy lights across your dining area.


DIY rustic-chic chandelier. (Photo, Sian Richards.)

6. Investing in stiff furniture. Avoid furniture that looks great but feels uncomfortable and instead look for furniture that you would use indoors too — you want to relax in your outdoor space. For an extra level of comfort, add some great outdoor cushions to wicker and adirondack chairs.

All-weather rocking chair Home Depot

All-weather rocking chair, $219, Home Depot.

7. Forgetting the citronella. Get the most comfort from your outdoor space without compromising style by lighting some trendy citronella candles — bye-bye mosquitos!

citronella-candle Cb2

Citronella candle, $36, Cb2.

8. Not stocking up on outdoor pillows. We can’t stress this one enough! Much like rugs, outdoor pillows can instantly lift a space and there is no shortage of chic and durable designs out there. Look for ones made from mildew- and fade-resistant material. Many companies are making pillows that can be used both indoors and out, which means you can bring them in once the season’s over to up your living room decor.

backyard oasis

Photo, Roberto Caruso.

9. Feeling apprehensive about creating a bold outdoor space. More and more people are creating spaces that feel like outdoor living rooms in order to enjoy the short summer season in maximum comfort and style. To achieve this look, try hanging big outdoor lanterns that look like chandeliers, painting the space a dramatic colour if it is enclosed and purchasing furniture that looks like it belongs indoors.


Photo, Roberto Caruso.

10. Using your indoor cutlery and plates. Summer is short so take advantage of your backyard oasis and eat outside as much as possible. Spruce up your table by using a separate set of fun straws, cutlery and plates, just for your outdoor gatherings. Look for dishware made from melamine — it’s durable, but looks like real china.

garden party

Photo, Sian Richards.

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