Six steps to creating an outdoor living space

By Rebecca Long Pyper

Summer in Idaho is good — so good that it keeps even winter-haters living in the state because the anticipation of warmer months is so lovely. Homeowners can make the most of the late spring and summer by establishing an outdoor living space in the yard. A spot for entertaining or relaxing outside doesn’t have to be expensive and can be carved out with just a few pieces and accessories:

1. Area rug

Define your space — even if it’s on concrete — with an outdoor rug. It’s one way to add a little style and pattern outside, and since these rugs are made from durable materials like polypropolene, they’re designed to withstand spray-downs from the hose. That’s good because if you’ve got barbequing on the brain, you’re bound to have a few spills this summer. Clean them up quickly and get back to the party.

2. Lights

You’ve got options here. Choose statement pieces large in size, like a couple substantial lanterns or hurricane lamps with candles inside. Or go for strength in numbers by lighting lots of little tea lights (mix in a few citronella to keep bugs at bay). Globe string lights — the ones with round bulbs — are a big trend right now; string them in your trees or from point to point on your pergola, patio cover or table umbrella.

3. Seating

Caption: Outdoor furniture doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you've got time to spare, consider buying an Adirondack-chair kit and building your own set. These chairs were made from kits purchased at Home Depot. Photo by Rebecca Long Pyper

Caption: Outdoor furniture doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you’ve got time to spare, consider buying an Adirondack-chair kit and building your own set. These chairs were made from kits purchased at Home Depot. Photo by Rebecca Long Pyper

Whether you choose a wicker love seat or a pair of chairs, comfortable seating is a must. And you don’t have to settle for camp chairs because good-looking options are available too. Adirondack chairs are classic, and though some are expensive, Home Depot sells hardwood assemble-yourself kits for $49.98 each. These chairs (pictured here) are simple enough for even a novice to put together and come with all necessary screws.

Wicker is timeless and can be refreshed with a couple cans of spray paint. Also, low-maintenance resin chairs look like wicker but are longer wearing.

4. Chair cushions

Add color or pattern to your space with chair cushions. Pick these up on the cheap at discount stores like Ross Dress for Less or T.J. Maxx. Or if you’re crafty, sew them yourself — just make sure to select indoor-outdoor fabric for best results and scrubability.

5. Table or two

Providing a place to set a drink or your cell phone is handy and will make an outdoor space more convenient. A small side table or a pair of them will do the trick. Situate one between a couple chairs to create an intimate conversation spot. And your tables don’t even have to be “tables”; buy a stool if you’d rather and use it for extra seating in a pinch.

6. Flowers

Plunk a pot of geraniums or petunias near chairs or on tables to add some life to the hardscape. These varieties bloom all season long and add a pop of color to an outdoor living space.

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