Outdoor Furniture and Fabric Ideas

Use the Color Wheel for Decorating Guidance

If you’ve ever found yourself unsure of how to choose colors for outdoor fabric and furniture, try this simple trick: Use the color wheel. It’s a surefire, age-old way to determine what colors work best with each other. One color wheel rule is to choose complementary colors, or those directly across from each other. Here, that makes for a bold color statement with orange and turquoise; bright white umbrellas and accents in the patterning keeps the collection from feeling overwhelming.

Mimic the Look of the Indoor — Outside

As we continue to expand our living spaces into the outdoors, one of the benefits has been a wider availability of indoorlike furniture and fabrics. Case in point: The wickerlike sofa and chair grouping in this cozy covered porch area. The outdoor fireplace offers an organizing focal point, but the low-slung proportions of the furniture supply a unique profile. Although bright white might seem like an unusual outdoor furniture choice, heavy-duty slipcovers and washable fabrics make these cushions easy to wear and wash. In keeping with the slightly exaggerated profile of the furniture, side and coffee tables supply a stocky yet streamlined silhouette, too.

Choose Contrasting Patterns for Visual Interest

For some homeowners, their indoor and outdoor spaces are less an exercise in one particular style than they are a reflection of their distinct personality and quirks—and that goes for decks, patios, and porches. For example, furniture sets and single color schemes used to be de rigueur, but today’s homeowners embrace more eclecticism and whimsy. Take this traditional front porch: Cottage-style pillows in a floral print accent the chairs, while further accent comes from a traditional striped pattern underfoot. Knickknacks pick up a few of the tones—here, robin’s egg blue—but vintage cast-offs—containers, a table—round out the comfy space.

Balance Bright with Light

Bold-color pieces are wonderful for establishing a focal point or defining different areas in an outdoor space. But left to themselves, they can overpower even a very large area. One decorating trick is to make sure to balance bright hues with equal amounts of light, neutral, or white pieces. Here, airy window treatments (used to establish a border for the space and shut out sunlight) offer just a hint of color, while white walls and ceiling and neutral flooring offer good counterpoints to the fun collection of fuchsia, orange, yellow, turquoise, and green in the seating area.

Maintain a One-Color Palette

Many gardens offer a riotous blend of color and texture; in those spaces it’s often good decorating practice to provide a soothing stop-over for the eye and mind with furniture and fabrics. Case in point: this comfortable seating arrangement, just off an expansive outdoor kitchen. Weathered-teak chairs and toned-down red cushions blend into the background so the decorative screening and interplay of textures—stone, wood, grass, plants, pond—can take center stage.

Focus on Ornamentation and Accents

If you’ve already got outdoor furniture that you’re happy with, a quick way to update the look is to add focal-point accents or ornaments. They’re typically much more affordable than furniture, and with smart shopping, you can change your outdoor space’s style nearly every season. Towering candelabras or vases—both shown here—are great for adding height and texture to dining or side tables. Distinctive fabrics, including simple linen table runners, can supply color or pattern, and throw pillowshelp you change your color scheme from year to year.

Accent Adjacent Colors with Neutrals

Colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel are adjacent, and those pairings are excellent for creating an instant decorating scheme for your outdoor spaces. To create a laid-back style that still showcases deft color interplay, consider tones that are lighter, such as this mix of greens and blues. Black is also a good accent and grounding color for these outdoor spaces, providing a solid focal point with the rug and visual variety with patterned pillows.

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