Outdoor Decor: Fresh-Air Style
Warm and Cool Tones
A carefree beachy theme unites the joyous patchwork of color and pattern at left.
Fabrics (see black and white drawing)
This weather-resistant mix, which we made into cushions, includes (see chart below): Calico Corners's butterfly-and-morning-glory print (1), a pink woven acrylic from Lee Jofa (2), Kravet's sunny ikat (3, 5), nautical stripes by Dedar (4), a Moroccan print from Calico Corners (6), and Variegated's orange houndstooth (7). For blankets, we used a Lisa Corti quilt (8) and a vintage sari (9) from John Derian.
A burst of pink applied to a picnic basket matches the cheerful setting.
Set against an earthy palette, polka dots and plaids make an elegantly graphic statement. Understated lighting enhances the mood.
Cast a soothing glow with a group of candles. From left: A pair of Glassybaby votive candleholders in Bedford Brown, a subdued hue Martha created (a portion of each sale goes to the Martha Stewart Center for Living); a tall etched glass that diffuses candlelight; and a "smoke signals" porcelain votive candleholder designed by David Weeks.
Waterproof paint and water-resistant fabrics leave a sophisticated stamp on inexpensive pieces that can live outdoors. Rattan poufs from Ikea get a coat of high-gloss taupe paint, in keeping with the neutral scheme. For the tables (these are from Ikea's inexpensive Lack line), apply spray adhesive to the unassembled tops and legs. Wrap each piece with cloth (we used coated-cotton polka dots and a vinyl plaid from B&J Fabrics), then attach legs to base.
Blues and Greens
Bold patterns in refreshing hues are a perfect match for any outdoor setting.
Give new life to old furniture with a coat or two of semigloss paint in springtime colors. We used pale greens to update a pair of wicker chairs. The seat cushions are upholstered in a flora-and-fauna print by LuluDK, and Greek key and paisley motifs by Schumacher; the umbrella is from Janus et Cie.
The colorful theme continues with a tin plate by Mottahedeh and a cheerful striped napkin. Faux-ivory-handle cutlery adds an elegant touch. For a new spin on the classic hurricane glass, you'll need a few clear cylinders in different sizes (ours are from Jamali and Gracious Home). Place sea glass, available at garden centers, in each vessel; then nestle one inside the other. Steady a candle inside the smallest container with museum wax.
The beanbag makes a chic comeback when fashioned in vibrant outdoor fabrics, such as this cotton stripe by Hinson and botanical print by Kravet Soleil. Ours were custom-sewn, but you can make them yourself.
Intense, citrus shades are most appealing in the soft summer weather, when sunlight and sunsets set them aglow.
Add an exotic accent with a quartet of lanterns in different shapes and heights. The red one, from Jamali Garden Supply, was white; we coated it with high-gloss paint (remove glass panels before painting). The other designs are by, from left, Not Neutral, Casamidy, and Jamali.
Transform reusable bamboo utensils with a few deft strokes of model paint, which can withstand hand-washing.
Pots and planters get their own dose of warmth with splashes of high-gloss paint. A vintage kitchen pot rack becomes a towering plant stand once it gets a uniform coat of glossy buttercup paint. Tangerine enlivens a table supporting a terra-cotta planter.