Are you inviting friends over to a party or barbecue? Do you feel like your garden seating area is drab and boring and needs something to make it more inviting and lively? Using colour is a sure way to add that extra impact and transform your outdoor space into a tranquil garden.
So you may have worked hard to build or renovate a deck or patio. And perhaps spent a bit more money on furniture to provide a comfortable seating and dining area. And you are proud of the hard work you have put into your garden to improve it and make it a place to spend time in.
Now you have friends coming over for the first time after all of these changes and you’re panicking! The space just looks too bland. There is no character and everything blends together into one brown or gray mass.
What you need is to add some colour to the area and it needs to happen fast. Here are 7 items you can add relatively quickly and inexpensively to improve the space before your friends come over.
It’s not an outdoor space or garden until you add some colour using plants. Flowers are the first to come in mind. They come in almost every colour to suit your decor and budget.
And if you are more inclined to have edibles close by, consider some of the more colourful vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, rainbow swiss chard and different lettuces. Compact fruit such as strawberries are also colourful with their bright red berries.
For a seating area, it helps to have some flexibility in what plants you surround it with. Because flowers bloom at different times of the year, it is useful to be able to swap out flowers that are no longer blooming with flowers that are just starting to bloom. That way your area stays interesting and colourful all season long.
So the answer here is to only use containers and pots. And when you are on a tight deadline, you may just have to go to the nursery or garden centre and splurge on some ready-made hanging baskets and containers.
In a pinch you can also use cut flowers in a nice vase. Either get them from your garden or buy them at the grocery store or flower shop. Weigh the vase down with some pebbles on the bottom so it doesn’t tip over in high winds and remember to keep the water fresh.
Careful though if you have guests coming over that are sensitive to strong fragrances as some flowers have very potent scents, especially at night. You may want to keep the containers a bit further away from the seating area but still visible.
If your party or barbecue goes into the evening hours, you will likely find that you need lights to keep the area inviting and safe for your guests. Nothing worse that someone tripping over something in the dark!
Lights come in all different styles, sizes, prices and yes, also colours. You can find LED light strings that are designed for summertime use although in a pinch you could also use Christmas light strings.
Careful with using too many bright colours, otherwise your area may look like a Christmas card. Mind you if you are using your seating area year-round even in December maybe Christmas lights with Santas or snowmen could work during that month.
Make sure to plug the lights into an appropriately protected outlet or use solar lights. You can put the lights on a timer so that they come on at dusk and stay on until you go to sleep to save energy.
If you are serving food and/or drink, your table needs a bit of embellishment too. I like the natural look of a wood table, but sometimes it is a bit too much brown if you have a wood deck or other wood structure such as a pergola. We are after all trying to inject some colour into your area.
So a bright, cheerful tablecloth or placemats are the way to go. They do add instant colour and protect your table surface all at the same time.
In either case, make sure to get a tablecloth or placemats that are easy to clean. Ideally you want something that is wipeable with a damp cloth. Or at least machine washable and quick-drying. Avoid the PVC tablecloths that off-gas if you can. They take quite a bit of time to lose their chemical smell.
One other option if you like to keep your table visible or you have really messy eaters (kids especially) is to use a clear tablecloth. Underneath it you can use some bright cloth placemats to add some colour.
Also ensure that your tablecloth and placemats are UV-resistant. We purchased a beautiful tablecloth years ago that was supposed to have been for outdoors, but in just a few months it had faded almost to white (it was a bright yellow) and started to fall apart as the material got baked by the sun.
And keep in mind wind – if you don’t secure your tablecloth, you will find it hanging from the next tree and likely damaged! There are special clips you can put on the tablecloth corners to weight it down or other clips that clip the cloth to the table itself.
For placemats I would recommend wiping them and putting them away after every use. You should have some kind of cabinet in your seating area to store lesser used items like the placemats, candles, napkins, etc.
Remember to clean and put away the tablecloth/placemats once you are done using them for the season, especially in areas that get a lot of winter rains and snow.
You can also easily add colour with plates, glasses, utensils, napkins and napkin rings. Serve snacks, hot dishes and cold dishes in colourful bowls and serving platters.
Try to come up with a colour scheme that matches your tablecloth or placemats and other colours in the area.
Avoid breakable items, especially if you have a concrete or stone patio. There are now safe (BPA free) plastic plates, tumblers, wine “glasses” and bowls that you don’t have to worry about if they fall on a hard surface.
Your garden seating areas should be comfortable whether you have a sofa or love seat, arm chairs, dining chairs or loungers. Well-padded cushions will make sitting for longer periods of time enjoyable for your guests and your family.
However you also have the opportunity to add some colour with cushions. Outdoor cushions that are weather-resistant now come in so many different colours and patterns that you should be able to find some that match the rest of your decor.
And the good thing about cushions is that you can swap them out easily (with some cost of course) if you want to quickly change your colour scheme.
Pick cushions that are weather-resistant and mildew-resistant. However consider removing them when the season is over, especially if you have very wet winters.
Your garden seating areas should be treated like the outdoor rooms they are. And what does a room need as a focal point, especially under a table? A nice rug.
You can get a beautiful but weather-resistant carpet/rug for your seating area. It can be a bit pricy as you are paying for weather-resistant materials. But it should last for many years.
Make sure that the carpet is UV-resistant. Otherwise you may find it fading after just one season and then you end up with a drab, colourless carpet that doesn’t add much to your outdoor area.
Keep in mind that if you add a rug under a dining table you will get some spills on it. Make sure it is easy to clean.
As with cushions and tablecloths/placemats you may want to clean and store the rug out of the elements if your winters are very wet.
Finally let’s jazz up your walls. And the easiest way to do that other than repainting or recovering a wall is with some type of wall decoration or art.
This only works of course for a deck or patio that is up against a building. But even if you don’t have a wall close by you may be able to use a wall or fence that is visible to add some art. Or you may need to put up a fence panel or lattice screen for shade or privacy anyways, so you can then use that for hanging art
What kind of art? Again your main criteria is weather-resistance and UV-resistance. You are likely not going to want to hang a priceless painting on your wall. So pick something that is designed for outdoors or something you can spray with a UV coating.
Wooden carvings work so long as they are well-sealed against moisture. Metal objects work really well too and even if they rust a bit or get a patina over time (like unprotected copper will), that can add to their charm.
Anchor them well on the wall – I’ve had some art that has gone for a spin through my garden after a strong wind pulled it off the wall. I usually like to use a wire hanger on the back of the art that can wrap around the hook in the wall. Or if using a standard picture hook, flatten the hook so it pinches the wire hanger.
So as you can see it is easy to add a pop of colour to your garden seating area, no matter how big or small they are. And you’ll be happy knowing you’ve done your best to ensure your guests will find the area inviting and interesting. Hopefully your barbecue is a success as well and you don’t burn those hamburger buns!
How does your garden seating area look right now? Which of these are you going to use in your area to provide the pop of colour it needs? Leave a comment on your success with adding colour using these ideas or provide other ideas to share with the readers.