Cover story: ‘Decorating’ patio with simple, inexpensive ideas

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Now that the summer season is in full swing, you may be noticing your outdoor space leaves something to be desired. Not that a deck, patio or balcony isn’t good enough all by itself when the weather cooperates, but sometimes it’s nice to add a little pizazz to your patio.

Try these suggestions for ways to spruce up your space without cutting into your vacation budget.

While adding some bling in the form of decorative items can be fun, Dan Hastings, president of Mr. Handyman in Gaithersburg, suggested starting with something a little more mundane: a good cleaning.

“You should power-wash your deck, stone patio or brick patio about every two years,” Mr. Hastings said. “In between, you should hose off your deck or patio to make sure dirt and debris doesn’t collect and cause damage. You should also inspect your deck every year for loose or rotted boards that may need replacing.”

Mr. Hastings recommended staining your deck and sanding it seasonally to maintain a refinished look.

When you inspect your patio, deck or balcony, you also should check the trim around your doors and windows to see if they need painting. Replacing a sliding glass door or upgrading your patio access could cost $2,000 or more and might require a professional, but you always can improve the look of your current doorway with a thorough cleaning, new paint and perhaps new doorknobs and hinges.

Once you’ve done the mundane tasks of sprucing up your space, you can turn your attention to adding some fun to the area.

Liz Levin, owner of Liz Levin Interiors in the District, suggested, “Paint your porch with porch paint and stencil a pattern, or try an outdoor rug that can be hosed clean. An outdoor rug can cover a less-than-stellar floor or patio, adds color and a coordinated look if you choose one that complements some new outdoor pillows.”

Lisa Adams, owner of Adams Design in the District, said an outdoor rug can unify an area and make it more intimate.

“You can also use a tablecloth to create a floor space and add big new pillows for comfortable seating,” Ms. Adams said.

One trend interior designers notice is the increasing impulse to decorate outdoor spaces as if they were indoor spaces.

“It’s always a surprise, as a temporary measure, to bring indoor pieces outside,” Ms. Adams said. “Bring out an Oriental rug, a table lamp, a fan and some ornate chairs. The unexpected use of indoor furniture adds to the excitement of the event.”

Ms. Levin said homeowners can coordinate throw pillows and planters.

“You can fill odd corners and funky places with groupings of planters and flowers in the same hue and varying heights,” Ms. Levin said. “Hibiscus are tall and colorful, impatiens are low and easy to grow in shade. I like to use some perennials that come back easily year after year, like hosta, clematis and hydrangea.”

Kelley Proxmire, principal of Kelley Interior Design in Bethesda, suggested grouping potted plants of different sizes to add interest to your patio or deck, particularly in trios.

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