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Last updated: Mon. May. 19, 2014 - 12:52 pm EDT


Prettiest patio fits your lifestyle

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Spring is here, the grills are out and the call of nature left a message to say it's time to pick up your patio.

These decorating pointers will keep your outdoor space one with nature and your wallet.

Lay it all out

Nail down your intention for decorating this space. Do you want it be comfortable for a party of people or just enough for you and bottle of wine?

Sara Kruger, interior designer of Sara Bella Home Staging and Redesign, says self-evaluation is the first step of decorating any room. She says her home's veranda, decorated with thrift store finds, is designed to be a place for conversation.

“People tend to get hung up on the ‘supposed to' and the labels. They think this is a patio, so I have to throw money at a table and chairs, but you're wasting the space and the money if you're not going to use it,” she says. “Use that space in a way that serves you and your lifestyle.”

Stay budget-conscious

After you decide the function, then you can budget the money. Save money on lighting installation by stringing up white Christmas lights.

Kruger says that ambient light is not intrusive and perfect for those who still want to stargaze.

Planks of wood can be inserted into cinder blocks or an old wooden door can be placed on top of the blocks with a cushion and pillows for a DIY day bed. Stacks of wooden palettes can be used in the same way or to make a coffee table.

“It's an extension of your space if you do it right. When you start bringing in furniture, it can be another room to your house,” says Allison Brackmann, interior designer for Choice Designs Inc. “If you're going to put out furniture, make sure it's underneath something, whether that's shade or a covered porch so that it doesn't fade from direct sunlight.”

Brackmann suggests using a shade sail if you don't have a covered area.

To keep it affordable, head to the fabric store and use a triangular piece of muslin or track down an old boating sail, and hook it above the area with screw-in hooks or outdoor adhesive hooks.

Get in your elements

Kruger says one thing she shares with her clients is that the room doesn't have to match, it just has to work.

“People can get wrapped up in being matchy-matchy, and then their place looks like a furniture showroom. The design elements are what make things work,” she says.

Color is a surefire design element to tie your room together. Pick colors that complement the purpose of the space or colors that seem to be trending for the summer and spring.

“An orchid color is actually the color of the year,” Brackmann says. “We have also seen a lot of grays, yellow and purple.”

But for a beginner, Kruger suggests you decorate with only warm or only cold colors that will balance your space until you're more comfortable decorating.

“If you happen to have a space that gets hot, don't do warm colors. Visually, it serves you to cool things down,” she says. “If you're in a shaded place, it may need some warmth to it.”

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