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1. Add Cushions & Pillows for fun and color:

Brighten your lounge area by bringing in a splash of color and playful patterns or textures with cushions made with outdoor fabrics by Pindler. Sunbrella fringe or tassel trim adds a fun element to look at, and outdoor foam inserts allow liquids to flow right through and humidity to rapidly evaporate, so you won’t have to worry about bringing the cushions indoors every evening. With so many great prints and textures available in outdoor fabrics, I’ve even used them inside some homes for window seat cushions.

2. A Fire Pit to keep you warm:

Flames are always captivating to watch. It’s amazing how many additional comfortable hours a fire pit table can add to the outdoor season. Enjoy a crackling fire and treat yourself to roasted s’mores. If you live in the Greater Portland, Oregon area, you should check out fire pits by O.W. Lee and their outdoor furniture at Parker Furniture & Design, one of our favorite local furniture stores.

[photo O.W. Lee]

3. Comfortable Outdoor Seating:

Create cozy nooks, intimate spaces, where you and your friends can gather and relax. Include a dining table you can extend for many guests. Then, add colorful place settings and dishes. Another favorite of mine: a cushy chair and ottoman, perfect for curling up and reading a good book in nature. Parker in Beaverton in their large outdoor furniture gallery, features beautiful Jensen Leisure Furniture, as well as many other quality manufacturers.

4. Add an Area Rug in a tribal pattern or simple texture:

Handmade from durable fibers that resist sun, rain, and mildew, these rugs help blur the lines between in- and outdoors. They help create a living space without walls and are another great way to add color and style to a patio or veranda.

Rug experts Rick at Atiyeh Bros. and Bruce at Parker Furniture tell me that 9’ x 12’ is about the maximum size for outdoor rugs, and they’re glad to answer any questions. Like many of my clients, I believe in supporting Pacific Northwest-based, local companies that provide lifetime customer care and educate us on products we purchase.

5. Keep the Sun out with Solar Shades:

Sun screen shades are great for reducing heat and glare while still keeping the view. Some can also keep out mosquitoes, and you’ll be able to enjoy your meals without being bothered by pesky bugs. I recommend and sell solar screen shades from Insolroll. They are effective, well made, and durable. See how Insolroll shades work. Because less solar energy enters the building, window shades on the exterior work more efficiently than shades on the interior. The color of the fabric, as well as the openness of its weave, are important factors in a fabric’s performance. I could go on, but this is getting pretty technical.

[photo Insolroll solar interior roller shades]

6. Curtains, billowing in the breeze:

At Adrette, we call drapery panels for exterior use “curtains.” In my opinion, outdoor fabric panels add softness to any space, and they help block the intense heat of the sun. At the same time, they are lightfast (meaning not prone to discolor), and they also offer additional privacy from neighbors. The simple curtains, shown in the photo below, hang from swing-arm hardware on the patio in our backyard, and they very effectively moderate the bright morning sun. When not needed, we just swing them out of the way.

[photo Adrette outdoor curtains]

7. Veggie & Fruit Planters for something fresh to nibble on:

I love starting my mornings with picking and eating fresh strawberries, as I’m watering our plants.

Or, create a living wall, and enjoy picking cherry tomatoes and herbs that you grow right on your patio. In case you’re looking for rare and unique varieties of fruits & veggies, One Green World, a nursery for plants, shrubs, and fruit trees in SE Portland, has an exciting selection. 14 years ago, we found a Tashkent quince tree there, which is now towering over our patio. Every November, this tree produces an abundant crop of large, aromatic, wonderfully fragrant quinces, and Jens makes them into juice for delicious quince candy and jelly. Much appreciated by family and friends.

8. Flowers for the birds, and for your soul:

If there is room for only one planter or container, go for it. Flowers guarantee visual interest and beauty. Choosing the right ones, like Crocosmia (Iris family), will attract local hummingbirds. It’s easy to get startled by the hum of their quick wings, only to discover a nosy “hummer” observing you from a close distance.

Yes, nature and plants are also a big passion of mine! I do want to mention a quaint nursery and garden center in Tualatin, called The Garden Corner. They are well known for their beautiful hanging baskets, and their “chief garden-rebel” Jonn is always happy to share his wealth of plant knowledge. Stroll their “boardwalk” through the nursery, and you won’t even muddy your shoes.

In case you need professional landscaping assistance, check out Landservices, Inc., or Drakes 7 Dees – both are in Portland, OR.

9. Unexpected Lighting Sources for ambiance:

One of my favorite memories is a chandelier hanging in the woods next to a cabin on Mount Hood. Or, if you want to be crafty, look for candles that are powered by batteries and wrap tree bark around them for a beautiful soft table light. At Parker Furniture, I recently saw some cool ambient lanterns made by Gloster, a German lighting company.

[photo Gloster lighting]

A Bonus Tip from designer friends Kate and Jayne at Parker Furniture…

Add an umbrella to your outdoor space for even more protection from the sun. Treasure Garden makes cantilever-style patio umbrellas, from 8.5’ to 13’ in diameter, without obstructing poles in the center.

[photo Treasure Garden umbrella]

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