When it comes to decorating your backyard space, a few fresh details can mean the difference between a garden-variety area and a fully realized outdoor room. A lush alfresco setting is rooted in ample seating, hardy fabrics, and a healthy dose of fun.
"Garden furniture has really made strides," says Living decorating editor Rebecca Robertson. "It's not just folding chairs and wicker anymore."
No matter what kind of space you have, these chairs, rugs, and swings will help you thrive and flourish in your zone.
Take a Seat
Call on these scene-stealing pieces to energize an existing furniture set. All of them are weatherproof, but for optimum longevity, cover and store them indoors or under a shelter off-season. And if you're short on space, look for chairs that fold up or stack.
1. This sturdy ceramic garden stool ($79.50, pearlriver.com), which has the button-tufted styling of an upholstered piece, can also serve as a footrest or a drink stand.
2. A Louis XVI bergere chair ($2,400, treillageonline.com) -- reimagined in teak with synthetic caning -- proves that garden pieces needn't compromise on gravitas. Also shown: Castelated Siam outdoor pillow (20 inches square; $313, dransfieldandross.com)
3. Slim and stackable, the aluminum Saturn Low Lounge chair ($300, jasonchampiondesign.com) gets its hot-rod color from the same powder coating used on cars.
4. A fresh take on 1950s-style wirework, the lacy Re Trouve High-Back chair ($1,015, curranonline.com) will raise the profile of any patio.
5. The Take Bamboo Chair Long ($130, snowpeak.com) is deep enough to sink into but light enough to fold up and carry. Also shown: Lido Big Beads Bella-Dura outdoor pillow (16 inches square; $125, hableconstruction.com)
6. Turned legs and a bronze finish give the Pembroke cushioned ottoman ($99, homedepot.com/marthastewart) an heirloom quality; the rustproof aluminum frame and weather-resistant fabric ensure that the piece will stand the test of time.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Say goodbye to the days of generic vinyl mats and cushion covers. Today's versions are just as pretty as the indoor ones. Use rugs to define a living area (which is key outdoors where there are no walls). Remember to accent with pillows (garden furniture tends to be less plush than its indoor counterpart). Start laying the groundwork now, and together these elements will add up to months of afternoon catnaps.
1. Piping and elaborate embroidery give this Outdoor custom throw pillow (in Zinnia/Rust Ground with Canvas/Sky welt, 22 inches square; $275 linkoutdoor.com) an organic texture.
2. The blue tone-on-tone pattern of the Chevron Ribbon outdoor pillow (24 inches square; $288, dransfieldandross.com) looks shipshape with a variety of designs.
3. Neither red wine nor a pet's muddy paw prints will soil the Diamond Light-Blue/Ivory rug (6 feet by 9 feet; $298, dashandalbert.com), which, like all Dash & Albert polypropylene rugs, can be easily scrubbed clean.
4. A cascade of turquoise maple leaves makes this Outdoor custom Comfy quilt (in Maple/Turquoise with Canvas/Aqua flange and Twill/ Sugar backing; $725, linkoutdoor.com) pop. Use it as the ultimate picnic blanket or a cozy throw that lets you linger outside after dark.
5. Designed to mimic the look (and feel) of a rag rug, this handwoven synthetic Corded Stripe rug (3 feet by 5 feet; $149, potterybarn.com) feels soft underfoot but can be hosed off.
6. The spray of white palm fronds on the Capri Palm Bella-Dura pillow (20 uches square; $150, hableconstruction.com) suggests a bleached tropical sun print.
7. Round out an assortment of rest-your-head squares with a bold Outdoor custom bolster pillow (27 inches by 7 inches, in Drop In/Melon with Canvas/Melon ends and Canvas/ Ash welt; $275, linkoutdoor.com).
8. The Pond Stripe rug (6 feet by 9 feet; $298, dashandalbert.com) brings a little Cape Cod to your backyard.
9. The Outdoor custom throw pillow (in Doodle/Spring Ground with Canvas/Natural White flange, 22 inches square; $275, linkoutdoor.com) has a free-spirited design. Isn't that what outdoor lounging is all about?
The backyard should be a place for play and a little bit of wonderment. By attracting feathered friends, birdhouses turn casual observers into bona fide birders. Hung on a porch or from a tree, swings and hammocks draw flocks of children and grown-ups alike. And candlelit lanterns add a romantic twinkle to outdoor dinners (even weeknight barbecues).
1. At more than two feet tall, the wrought-iron Tung lantern ($295, casamidy.com) turns a flickering flame into a stop-and-stare show.
2. This handmade welded-steel Charm birdfeeder (in Key Lime; $78, joepapendick.etsy.com) doubles as a modern sculpture.
3. Crafted in Maine from Northern white cedar, the shingled Flat House birdhouse ($250, wellappointedhouse.com) is like a luxury avian B&B.
4. Thanks to an accommodating 24-inch seat on the Adult Swing ($70, breezyswings.com), everyone can reconnect with the heart-pounding sensation of sailing through the air.
5. Seat two or three on this graphic lattice-backed Theia Teak Wood porch swing (from $278, porchswings.com), which is constructed from sustainable teak.
6. Made of cotton scraps from T-shirt production, the Sunshine hammock ($48, globalexchangestore.org) has all the lazy-day comfort of your favorite tee. Also shown: Siam Chevron outdoor pillow (24 inches square; $375, dransfieldandross.com)