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In the spring and summer, the backyard is a great place to decorate to really glam up your space. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for bringing your backyard to life.

1. Add Cushions & Pillows for Backyard 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 visual element, and outdoor foam inserts allow humidity to rapidly evaporate. This means you don’t need 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. This is a great time to enjoy a crackling fire and treat yourself to roasted s’mores in the backyard!

If you live in the Greater Portland, Oregon area, 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 Backyard Seating

Another great way to improve your backyard area in the summer is to create cozy nooks or intimate spaces to sit and relax. Include a dining table you can extend for many guests. Then, add colorful place settings and dishes.

Another favorite trick of mine: place a cushy chair or ottoman in the space, perfect for curling up and reading a good book in nature. Parker in Beaverton boasts a large outdoor furniture gallery, and 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, area rugs can blur the lines between in-and outdoor spaces. They help create a living space without walls and act as 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 local Pacific Northwest-based 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 can enjoy your meals without being bothered by other 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 and 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 Window Coverings, 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.

Another way to spruce up your backyard area is to 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 fearless “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]

 

And a Bonus Backyard Decorating 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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