Designing a picture-perfect outdoor space goes beyond simply arranging furniture and plants. It’s about creating a functional, inviting area that enhances your lifestyle. So whether you just bought a home in Denver or you live in an apartment in San Diego, this Redfin article highlights key outdoor decorating mistakes to avoid. These tips will help ensure your outdoor space becomes a beautiful and enjoyable extension of your home.

1. Choosing the wrong furniture

One of the most common mistakes in outdoor decorating is choosing the wrong furniture. Outdoor furniture needs to withstand the elements, so opting for materials like metal, teak, or weather-resistant wicker is crucial. Additionally, comfort should not be sacrificed for style. Test the furniture for comfort and ensure it suits your lifestyle needs, such as dining, lounging, or entertaining.

2. Ignoring the climate

Failing to consider your local climate can lead to quick wear and tear of outdoor decor. For example, if you rent a home in Miami’s humid environment, metal furniture may rust rapidly, while in Phoenix’s extremely hot and dry conditions, wooden furniture might warp. Use weather-appropriate materials and invest in protective covers to extend the life of your outdoor pieces.

3. Overlooking lighting

Proper lighting can transform an outdoor space, yet it is often overlooked. Relying solely on overhead lights or not having enough lighting can make the space less functional and inviting. Incorporate various lighting options, such as string lights, lanterns, solar-powered path lights, and candles, to create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

4. Skipping shade solutions

Without adequate shade, your outdoor space can become uncomfortable, especially during the hot summer months. Avoid this mistake by incorporating shade solutions like umbrellas, pergolas, or shade sails. Not only do they provide relief from the sun, but they also add visual interest to your space.

backyard pergola

5. Neglecting scale and proportion

Choosing decor items and furniture that are either too large or too small can disrupt the overall balance of a space. Measure your outdoor area and plan accordingly. Larger spaces can handle bold, oversized pieces, while smaller areas benefit from more compact, multi-functional furniture.

6. Failing to define zones

An outdoor space should be as functional as an indoor room, with defined areas for different activities. Neglecting to create zones for dining, lounging, and cooking can make the space feel chaotic. Use rugs, furniture arrangements, and planters to delineate different areas and create a cohesive flow.

7. Over decorating

While it’s tempting to fill your outdoor space with decor, over decorating can make it feel cluttered and overwhelming. Focus on a few key pieces that complement the overall style and purpose of the space. 

8. Disregarding maintenance

Outdoor spaces require regular maintenance to keep them looking picture-perfect. Ignoring upkeep can lead to a deteriorated appearance. Regularly clean your furniture, sweep the area, and care for plants and greenery. Choosing low-maintenance plants and durable materials can also reduce the effort needed to maintain your outdoor space.

9. Forgetting about privacy

Privacy is essential for a comfortable and inviting outdoor area. Neglecting to add elements that provide seclusion can make the space less enjoyable. Incorporate privacy fences or screens, tall plants, or pergolas with climbing vines to create a more intimate atmosphere.

outdoor oasis with fire pit and comfortable seating

10. Poor plant selection

Choosing the wrong plants for your climate and soil type can lead to disappointing results. Research plants that thrive in your local conditions and consider their mature size and maintenance needs. Mix different types of plants, including perennials, annuals, shrubs, and trees, to add variety and interest to your garden.

11. Inadequate storage solutions

Another outdoor decorating mistake is avoid is not including storage into the space. Many outdoor spaces lack sufficient storage, leading to clutter and disorganization. Incorporate storage solutions like benches with hidden compartments, outdoor cabinets, or storage boxes to keep cushions, garden tools, and other essentials neatly tucked away.

12. Neglecting comfort and functionality

While aesthetics are important, comfort and functionality should not be compromised. Ensure there are enough seating options for guests and that the furniture is comfortable. Consider adding cushions, outdoor rugs, and throws to enhance comfort and create a cozy atmosphere.

A patio with an outdoor wicker sofa. and private fence

13. Not considering traffic flow

Ignoring how people will move through the space can lead to awkward and impractical layouts. Plan for easy movement by ensuring there is enough space between furniture pieces and creating clear pathways. Avoid placing furniture in high-traffic areas where it might obstruct the flow.

14. Underestimating the power of accessories

Accessories can elevate your outdoor decor but are typically underestimated or overlooked. Incorporate various accessories like outdoor rugs, throw pillows, lanterns, and decorative planters to add layers of texture, color, and interest to your space. These finishing touches can bring the entire look together and make the area feel complete.

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