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Homes | Outdoors

Retreat into your back yard

An outdoor living area can be a sanctuary to relax with family and entertain friends. But your retreat might need to be freshened up. Here's how. Scripps Howard News Service

Make magic with paint

If your outdoor furnishings look a bit worn or lackluster, brighten them up with new paint.

You can't miss when you paint outdoor furnishings classic colors like black, white or cream. But if you're feeling adventurous, crack open a can of today's hot colors and have fun. Paint your wooden garden bench apple green, then toss on some navy and white pillows. Or jazz up your wrought-iron dining set with a coat of periwinkle-blue, purple or tangerine-orange paint.

If you like how your furnishings look dressed in these spunky colors, keep going. Paint your arbor a vibrant color that accents the plants that will be growing there soon. Or pull a color from your outdoor linens and use it to paint your pergola.

Update your linens

Sun and rain can wreak havoc on outdoor linens, leaving them stained and bleached-out. If your cushions and pillows are looking shabby, treat yourself to some new ones this year.

Today's hot look in outdoor fabrics is bold and bright. You'll see lots of electric hues like apple green, orange and sunny lemon, and a wealth of peppy patterns that feature huge flowers and funky geometric shapes.

Improve the functionality

If you love to hang out in your outdoor room, consider investing in some infrastructure improvements. Putting in a wall in a small yard can transform it into a private courtyard.

If you love to barbecue, add an outdoor kitchen with a built-in gas grill, fridge and serving bar. If you entertain a lot, think about adding a brick or flagstone patio surrounded by flower beds. If your outdoor space is a quiet retreat, how about a soothing water feature?

Trick it up with accents

Outdoor accents are so affordable you can add new ones every year to keep your space fresh and fun.

No outdoor space is complete without chic lighting. Hang a rustic chandelier above the table or use a lantern as a centerpiece. Dot the porch rails with smaller lanterns or wicker-wrapped votives.

Make mealtime a special event with zippy outdoor dishware and table linens. Try a cute cotton tablecloth in a playful check or stripe. Top it with nature-inspired dishes that feature birds, bugs or ferns. Finish off with an interesting centerpiece, like a garden bust ringed by a summer wreath, a trio of succulents or a lantern that contains an interesting still life: Cover the bottom with a bit of moss, then insert a bug print and a bug figurine.

Retreat into your back yard 05/04/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 5:21pm]

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