Invest in comfortable and durable seats
Whether you’re buying new outdoor furniture or do-it-yourself upholstery, consider your lifestyle. If your deck 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 beautiful but cost less ($10 to around $30 per yard). Consider cushions with zippers or snaps for easy removal and cleaning.
Deena Brown, 50, of New Orleans, Louisiana, recently added a seating area with wrought iron chairs and a lounge chair 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 are exposed to direct sunlight, opt for a sun-resistant fabric. Cotton and linen are also suitable and cost less. Look for pillows with zippers or buttons for easy removal and cleaning.
Find shade with weatherproof umbrellas
Umbrellas should have a UV screen to keep them from fading in the sun, Klugh says. The latest outdoor fabrics for umbrellas are also water resistant and breathable. Other popular umbrella materials include bamboo, cotton, and polyester.
Curtains and drapes add charm
Outdoor curtains or drapes can provide stylish but inexpensive separation between indoor and outdoor spaces or some insulation around a gazebo, for example.
“Curtains provide a sense of privacy and also allow natural light and air to flow through the space,” says Hughes. She loves olefin, a synthetic fiber that resists fading and moisture. Curtains are also inexpensive, costing $20 to $90, and can be machine washed and dried.
Brown also added long curtains in a light, airy fabric that she describes as “a cross between fairy wings and a mosquito net” around a covered backyard area instead of doorways. “The idea is to create a sanctuary – you have your own private garden, an Eden-like vibe,” she says. “You feel like you’re on the outside but you still feel like you’re inside.”
Awnings and umbrellas create cozy spaces
Instead of traditional canvas for awnings, look for synthetic materials like acrylic or nylon that are waterproof and stain resistant. Some silver-coated polyamide (PA) textiles reflect ultraviolet rays. HDPE shade sails are available in various colors and shapes, such as triangles, and are relatively inexpensive.