Spruce Up Your Deck or Patio

Make the most of your deck or patio with the addition of decorating touches that make it feel like a comfortable room with the advantage of being outdoors.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Spruce Up Your Deck or Patio

Think of your deck or patio as an extension of your home and create an open-air living space that's ideal for outside cooking, dining, entertaining and lounging. A deck improvement makes a comfortable outdoor space that becomes a magnet that pulls you outside to read the morning paper, curl up with a favorite book or relax with a setting sun.

To create an easy, seamless transition, use outdoor furnishings that extend your inside décor to the outside. For example, if your home has Country-style furnishings carry the theme outside with old-fashioned porch rockers or a metal glider. Use wrought iron furniture outside to complement traditional furnishings inside. With its natural look and appeal, wicker furniture is a proven winner for any deck or patio. The new wicker furniture made of resin is weather-proof and can be left out year round.

Choose multi-purpose furnishings that can do double-duty like a storage box with a seat that keeps outdoor gear dry and neatly stored, while it also provides seating. A gardener's potting bench is convenient for planting chores and can be re-invented as a buffet for entertaining. And an old fashioned kid's wagon is handy for moving heavy bags of fertilizer, but serves as a charming accent when filled with colorful geraniums.

If storage space is at a premium, consider fold-away furniture so it is easy to store out of season.

Yard sales are a good place to find castoff outdoor furniture at a bargain price. A vintage metal table and chairs or wrought iron and glass furniture can be restored with rust-proof enamel paint and provide years of service.

When selecting cushions for outdoor furniture, choose fabric that is mildew-resistant and UV-protected so the cushions resist soil and stains and will withstand sun damage.

For outdoor dining and entertaining, there's a wide selection of gas grills and cooking islands. While a basic grill is the choice of many, the gourmet chef can find an outdoor kitchen complete with grill, built-in range, side burners, warming drawers, even a compact sink and refrigerator.

The most colorful and versatile accessory for a deck or patio is flowering plants and herbs. Use them in hanging baskets, planter boxes, urns, or clay pots in a grouping or individually on a tabletop.

Some useful accessories are a copper outdoor thermometer and clock or decorative wall sconces with candles to cast a warm and inviting atmosphere at night. For a soothing sound effect, you can't beat a wind chime.

For sun protection get a colorful market umbrella designed to fit in the center hole in outdoor tables or stand alone in a decorative cast iron base. The diameter of umbrellas range from 6- to 11-feet in round, square and rectangular shapes. One that is vented at the top or a two-tier design is best for stability in windy conditions.

For a more permanent solution to sun protection, consider the addition of a retractable awning installed on the siding of the house. You pull on a strap to unroll the awning and then set the supports, which can be angled against the house or set vertically on the deck or patio floor.

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