Aside from lying, cheating, being unkind, violence, excess noise and the color of egg yolks, there’s nothing I detest more than those bought-on-sale-out-in-front-of-the-supermarket, made-to-look-old-but-really-brand-new, matchy-matchy patio sets. In fact, I’ll tailgate on plastic coolers before I’ll pop a squat on those posers. NOTE: I don’t do sports. Where the hell am I going with this, and why all the ranting? Well, a few weeks ago, my team and I gave a summery makeover to a lackluster patio deckspace in Atlanta. The patio and deck were quite beautiful; the patio furniture was another story. Our mission? To de-matchy-matchy the run-of-the-mill patio set, then set it up for summer entertaining… all in a single afternoon.
In order to make this happen, we stuck with three locations: BJ’s Membership Club, a discount fabric store and a flea market. This unexpected combination works quite well, and let me tell you why: one-stop-shopping and bang-for-your-buck. Membership and wholesale clubs have just about every brand new, buy-it-in-bulk thing you could need under one roof times twenty; flea markets have uber-affordable, that’s-so-cool-where-did-you-find-it type stuff with a one-of-a-kind designer touch. By hitting up discount fabric stores, you’re certain to find excellent outdoor fabric on clearance. Wanna put a new, affordable spin on your own matchy-matchy patio set without an entire weekend of laborious do-it-yourselfing? Then check out my ideas. Perhaps some of them are right up your deck or patio’s alley. Wait, decks and patios can’t have alleys, can they? Oh well, you get the point.
Here’s what the deck looked like after my team whipped it into shape:
How do you like the vibrant new blue umbrella, mismatched chair-stool-and-bench seating, a graphic outdoor tablecloth made from discount indoor/outdoor fabric and outdoor tableware from BJ’s Membership Club. Not bad for around $200, three hours of shopping and a couple more hours to set it all up. Next comes the part where I break down what my Decor Demon team did and how. Well, after I show you what it looked like before, that is.
In its original state, the deck space had absolutely no personality whatsoever. We decided to incorporate the vibrant green from the lush landscaping into our color scheme to unite the deck space with its gorgeous, natural surroundings.
Green made its way over into to the dining area, starting with the seating. We found this white, cottage-style painted bench at Highland Row Antiques for next to nothing, ditched the lame matching set’s chairs altogether, then dressed the bench up by grabbing indoor throw pillows and temporarily using them outside. If you’re gonna pull your own throw pillows out onto your patio space, just stay away from delicate ones that could easily be ruined by water (silk, suede) or a sudden gust of dirt-filled wind (solid ultra-white anything). If you’re gonna incorporate wooden bench seating into your patio space, make sure the wood is pressure-treated. If not, it will rot faster than you can say “Jack-O-Lanterns in the trash pile”.
Mixing seating styles is unexpected, original and offers up tons of different configurations. If you decide to mix stools into your table seating mix, make sure they’re adjustable. Grab one too low and your friends will feel punished. Grab one too tall and they’ll grow a superiority complex. Oh, and see the vibrant lime green flatware? Acrylic: a step up from plastic + more practical alternative to fancy silver.
The overarching design hero, color, made its way onto the table scape in many different forms. Our outdoor tablecloth sporting blue and white stripes was made from two-and-a-half yards of outdoor fabric at $9 per yard. Although the plates kinda-sorta look ceramic, they’re actually made of super shiny disposable plastic with a metallic band around the edges which dresses them up. My theory for plastic and/or disposable tableware is to always balance the throw-away pieces with something made of cloth or fabric. In this case, we opted for dishtowels instead of paper napkins. A ten-pack from BJ’s Membership Club was less than $12. The napkin rings and place holders are made from discount bin drapery rings (you can usually find them at fabric stores), paint swatches, stick-on letters and twine.
Summer entertaining can be grueling, especially with temperatures upwards of 100 degrees. Two words: acrylic dispensers. They’re ideal for letting guests keep themselves cool, and they add a decorative touch. Much more durable than glass, they pretty much have the same look but won’t be a disaster waiting to happen should a guest sip too much hunch punch at your summer showdown. Mason jars are an excellent way to bring a summer entertaining touch to cold drinks, but if they’re too much of a hassle, colored acrylic drinkware offers a similar, shatterproof look.
While plastic coolers are acceptable for college, it’s wise to graduate to something a bit more grown-up once you’re old enough to own your own patio. Metal tubs are an excellent upgrade. They can be used for drinks or for keeping towels nearby and can help carry out the overall color scheme. These cuties were less than $20 a piece, are stackable and are easy to store in a closet when not being used.
Last but not least: repurposing. Leave the good glass vases inside. Instead, get creative with everyday items like soup cans. By simply taking off the wrapper and Goo-Gone’ing any sticky residue, you’ll instantly have a vessel that’s one part vase and one part conversation-starter.
Okay, enough of my summer showboating. Anyone else have success de-matchy-matchy’ing their own patio set and/or try their hand at outside-the-box outdoor entertaining?
Tell me in the comments below.