Invest in comfortable, durable seating
Whether you’re buying new outdoor furniture or upholstery fabric to do it yourself, consider how you live. If your patio is exposed to intense sun, consider a fade-resistant material. If you have pets, invest in an easy-to-clean, stain-resistant fabric like vinyl coated polyester mesh. Hughes suggests mesh fabrics, which are comfortable and look nice but cost less (from $10 to about $30 per yard). Consider cushions with zippers or snaps for easy removal and cleaning.
Deena Brown, 50, of New Orleans, Louisiana, recently added a sitting area with wrought iron chairs and a chaise longue to her backyard. She was able to get removable cushions in durable yet attractive fabrics to add dimension, texture and softness. The chair cushions are in a colorful batik pattern, and the others are an iridescent turquoise.
Pillows provide colorful accents
If you plan to use your pillows often, consider a stain-resistant fabric including those made from acrylic yarns which are also often mildew-resistant. If they’re in direct sunlight, opt for a sun-resistant fabric. Cotton and linen are OK, too, and they cost less. Look for pillows with zippers or buttons for easy removal and cleaning.
Find the shade with weatherproof umbrellas
Umbrellas should have a UV screen to prevent them from fading in the sunlight, Klugh says. The latest outdoor fabrics for umbrellas also are water-resistant and breathable. Other popular umbrella materials includes bamboo, cotton and polyester.
Curtains and drapes add charm
Outdoor curtains or drapes can provide a stylish yet inexpensive separator between indoor and outdoor spaces or some seclusion around a gazebo, for instance.
“Curtains provide a sense of privacy and also allow natural light and air to flow through the space,” Hughes says. She likes Olefin, a synthetic fiber that’s resistant to fading and moisture. Curtains are also inexpensive, costing from $20 to $90, and can be machine washed and dried.
Brown also added long drapes in a light, airy fabric that she describes as “a cross between fairy wings and mosquito netting” around a backyard covered area instead of doors. “The whole idea is to create a sanctuary — you have your own private garden, Eden type of vibe,” she says. “You get the vibe of being outside but still feeling like the indoors.”
Awnings and sunshades create comfortabe spaces
Instead of traditional canvas for awnings, look for synthetics like acrylic or nylon that are waterproof and stain resistant. Some silver-coated polyamide (PA) textiles reflect ultraviolet rays. Shade sails made of high-density polyethylene come in various colors and shapes, such as triangles, and are relatively inexpensive.