To create the perfect outdoor patio space, start with a focal point, and design from the floor up.
Outdoor patio spaces are like an extension to indoor living areas. By using rugs, end tables, coffee table, ottomans, couches and chairs, you create a lively and very purposeful outdoor living area to enjoy. It’s also good to separate your outdoor kitchen/BBQ area from your dining and living area. By creating smaller sections instead of just one large space, you’ll maximize your space and produce an appealing outdoor living area.
How do you do this? Begin with an outdoor area rug, and decorate around and on top of it. An outdoor rug will ground your outdoor patio arrangement and can be a highlight and set the stage for everything else.
Here are some things to consider when selecting an outdoor area rug.
Size and shape
For size, there are three rules of thumb:
- Have at least 18” of open space border around your outdoor rug, which in turn will keep the focus on your rug. If you are tight on space, you can get away with an 8” border.
- Keep in mind, when selecting the size of your rug, to allow at least 24” around any table, whether it’s a side or coffee table, so that people can get in and out of chairs without having the feet of the chair move off the rug. This will dissuade guests from moving the chair back when trying to rise and marking your deck or patio.
- When using sectionals, two- or three-seater sofas, or club chairs, the rug should be big enough to place either two or four legs on the rug, or have a mixture. When you have two legs on the rug, it will visually expand your space while bringing your living area together. If you opt for all four legs, this will visually tighten the outdoor area while creating cozy conversational seating areas. If your furniture configuration is in a more asymmetrical layout, then placing some furniture all the way on the rug and some with just their front two feet works well for a more contemporary style.
Shape is dependent on what area of space you have to work and layout, whether it’s a deck with a square or rectangular shape or if it’s a patio with a circular, square or rectangular layout. As well, you will want to know if your furniture will be arranged in a symmetrical or asymmetrical layout. Then there’s traffic flow, how you and your guests will enter and move around the space. A good idea is to arrange your outdoor furniture so that people will move around rather than through the main seating area.
Lay out your furniture first before getting your rug. The best practice is to put your biggest and longest piece of furniture, like a couch, sectional or loveseat along the longest area or wall, then add in other chairs, side tables, coffee table etc. Once you are happy with your layout, you’re now ready to get out a measuring tape to determine the size and shape that will best suit the area.
Outdoor rugs typically are made of synthetic fibres, like Olefin which is a polypropylene fibre because of their mould and mildew resistant qualities and their UV resistant merits. A top pick for outdoor rugs, Olefin is resistant to fading which helps to withstand the summer days. It is also stain-resistant, which makes it perfect for kids, pets and entertaining mishaps of spilled beverages or plates of food and can be dyed to offer many colours and pattern choices.
Alternatively, plant fibre materials are also high fashion for outdoor rugs. Fibres like sisal, hemp, seagrass and jutes are often popular choices for outdoor rugs and are all made from sustainable materials. They offer great style, are relatively low maintenance and have a moderate price tag. Just be careful with outdoor jute rugs. They don’t like moisture, so if you buy a jute rug, be sure it’s for a covered patio, porch or deck or screened in porch. Jute is very susceptible to mould and mildew.
Another option that is becoming popular is the use of artificial landscape grass as an area rug for outdoor living spaces. It has all the same qualities of Olefin and much more. It brings a unique and eco-friendly design element to a deck, patio or backyards where gardenscapes are your theme with little to no grass. In addition to being mould, mildew, UV and stain resistant, it’s easy to clean and has great drainage, so water will drain away from the top of the grass and dry quickly.
Pattern and colour
Coordinate your outdoor rug with your patio furniture, and don’t be afraid to use colour to liven up the area. You’re likely using your outdoor living area in summer, spring or fall, so use colours like blue, green, yellow, orange or red. This is a great way to add a splash of colour and a bit of flare to even the smallest outdoor space. Think of it as your “Welcome” mat!
If bright colours are not your vision, playing with pattern can also add the perfect flare to your outside living space. Muted colours or tone on tone in stripes, herringbone, chevron or geometric, to name a few, can be just as eye catching and add to the décor.
To stay in keeping with the natural elements of the outdoors, using texture through the use of natural fibres like hemp, jute, sisal and seagrass can add that design flair. They are durable, made from sustainable materials and have great texture, giving them design style in their own right.
Care and maintenance
Outdoor rugs are relatively low maintenance, but there is still an element of care that is needed if you want them to last. Here are a few points to consider:
- Use a rug pad under your outside rug. Rug pads are a good buffer between the rug and whatever surface it’s on, protecting them both and prolonging the life of the rug. For safety reasons, pads prevent the rug from moving, preventing any slippage.
- Vacuuming prevents dirt from building up. Remove the vacuum’s beater bar, or you can also use a carpet sweeper, broom or a leaf blower.
- Clean up spills quickly. Letting them sit will lead to long term damage. Check the cleaning label on the rug, but many outdoor rugs can be thrown in the washer or hosed down with a garden hose.
- Dry your outdoor rug after a rainstorm, and be sure both sides are dry before putting it back.
- When the temperature changes and it starts to dip below freezing, it’s time to clean and store away the rug. Check the cleaning instructions, but typically, a rug made from synthetic fibres can be cleaned with mild soap, a scrub brush and hosed off or thrown into the washing machine. To store it, be sure it is completely dry, then roll, rather than fold, your rug with the bottom facing out. Then place and wrap it up in plastic to keep any critters from finding a home.
Slip off your shoes and enjoy the comforts of indoor living, but outdoors!