Refreshing your patio with new furniture, decor or color automatically brightens the space and draws you into it. The good news is that giving your existing patio an upgrade doesn’t need to take a whole lot of time or money. Instead, you can tackle many updates in a day or a weekend, and most apply to patios of all styles.
Change Things Up With Color
Give your patio more color with painted walls or colorful mounted or freestanding panels.
Painting projects can usually be finished in a day or two, depending on the size of the space and the amount of prep needed. A simple but colorful panel or screen will take even less time. Look for landscape screens made of weatherproof materials such as metal, wood, glass, fiberglass, resin or concrete to perk up the space.
You can also add color with smaller decorative pieces such as pillows, throws or outdoor serving ware that will brighten the space now and can also transition with the seasons.
Create immediate impact with a large-scale art piece. Look for art created expressly for outdoor use to be sure it will work. Wood, metal, glass, fiberglass and resin can handle the elements. Canvas can be treated to make it more weather-resistant.
For the best long-term results, keep art out of direct sunlight and rain as much as possible. Consider bringing it inside during the winter months. Another option is to get something temporary and enjoy it while it lasts.
Tuck In a Daybed
Find a corner for a daybed that will give you a place to relax and maybe even catch an afternoon nap. While a traditional chaise lounge or outdoor sofa can fit the bill, there’s something particularly inviting about a daybed’s extra lounging depth. Add plenty of cushions and maybe a light throw to help you nest.
Choose a daybed designed for outdoor use and furnish it with weather-resistant cushions and pillows or plan to cover the piece when rain threatens. You can set it under an overhang or add a nearby umbrella or shade cloth to keep you from getting too hot.
Give yourself some protection from the hot afternoon, or visually divide your patio into “rooms” with a shade structure. A simple umbrella will provide direct shade; larger versions will cover more area, and a tilt feature lets you adapt to the sun’s arc. A shade cloth strung between three or four points is another easy way to gain some shade.
A fabric gazebo does double duty, providing sun protection during the day and then becoming a relaxing outdoor living room at night. You can get them with or without sides. Most fabric gazebos have metal supports and fabric made from canvas, polyester or outdoor acrylic fabric. They’re easy to install; just be sure to anchor them securely, especially in windy areas.
Fill In With Potted Plants
Use your patio to show off your favorite plants or landscape style — from a tropical-themed vibe to an homage to succulents or a cheerful collection of favorite annuals and perennials. You’ll gain additional gardening space, soften the hardscape and enjoy favorite plants up close.
Group similar plants in different size planters to fill a corner or line a row of matching plants and planters to outline the edge of the patio. You can also add interest and dimension with a living wall or other vertical garden. Consider installing one large frame designed to hold a mix of plants or mount wall planters at various heights for a similar look. If you don’t have a nearby wall, you might be able to add small patio trees in containers to give you a lush feel.
Plants in containers, especially hanging plants, will dry out more quickly than those in the ground. Be prepared to water more often.
Screen for Privacy
A landscape screen provides a sense of enclosure and privacy. Even the simplest screen will turn your open patio into a defined and separate space. Screens come in an amazing variety of sizes and materials — everything from wood and wood composites to metal, fiberglass, resin, glass and even concrete.
Upgrade Your Lighting
Hang lanterns or pendants from an overhead beam to add flair to your patio’s lighting. Battery-operated lighting means you don’t have to deal with wiring and outlets.
If overhead lighting isn’t viable for your space, scatter lanterns or outdoor lamps around the patio. You can place them on tables, tuck them into planters or set them on the patio floor to create a welcoming atmosphere during the evening hours.
If your lights have an open flame, place them in a safe spot where they won’t be easily brushed against or tipped over and where the flame can’t ignite your decor or furnishings. Be sure to extinguish any candles before you leave the patio.
Install a Focal Point
Consider installing a permanent feature center stage in your space. You can place it over the existing paving or remove part of the surface to create a base.
An oversize planter set into the middle of a patio makes a bold statement that will draw people into the space. Set it where you want on a level surface. The weight of the soil and plant will help keep it in place.
Fountains are more complicated to install. Depending on the type of fountain, you may have to plan for a water reservoir below the fountain itself and an electrical outlet nearby.
If that’s more involved than you want, consider moving the fountain to a corner of the patio. Set the reservoir on the surface of the patio, surround it with a mix of container plants to hide the sides and place the fountain in the center. Add pebbles on top of the reservoir and run the cord behind the fountain and along a wall to an outlet.
Choose a Decorative Accent
Add a decorative note to floors, tables and counters or posts and beams with outdoor tile. If tiling isn’t possible for your patio, consider adding decorative contrast with paint.
Do a Deep Clean
Sometimes, the simplest approach is also the most rewarding. Patio surfaces are designed to take a lot of wear and tear, so you may not notice when they’re not looking quite as pristine as they once were.
To keep patios looking their best, take a day to give the space a good cleaning. Clear off the moveable furnishings, sweep the floor well and then wash or treat the surface with the appropriate cleanser. Often, a mix of warm water and dish detergent, plus a sturdy broom, is sufficient. Let it dry, then put everything back in place.
While you’re at it, clean any cushions and patio furnishings that have become a bit grungy or stained. Usually scrubbing items with a solution of warm water and dish detergent, then rinsing them and letting them dry, is all that’s needed. You may have to work a bit to get off stubborn stains, but the clean look will be worth it.