The outdoor decorating bug has definitely set in.

The creative decorating juices have begun to flow, and it's time to get down to serious business. New Englanders only have a short window of time to take advantage of outdoor living and the summer weather. Preplanning your design will assist in making the search for items a little easier.

Here are some tips to begin your outdoor living-space design.

Sometimes sounding redundant, I always suggest beginning with an area rug for the patio or deck, just as you would for designing interior spaces. Many indoor/outdoor rugs are available that are totally washable and worry-free when leaving them outside and overnight.

When looking for items to create your area, items to search for are those that will endure the weather and resist fading, mildew and stains. Most times,

there will be a UV protection rating on outdoor fabric items. If bright and bold is where your summer style is heading, try mixing three colors to create a classy outdoor seating arrangement.

You can also create a style board to give you a visual of the final look before you purchase anything. My example style board incorporates cobalt blue, orange and lime green. Adding varying shades of your three color choices will also work.

As in the example rug, there are two shades of blue paired with a neutral stripe where colors bleed from one to another.


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Stripes on the rug can make the perfect focal point on your patio. When searching for the rug, looking for one with polypropylene adds extra durability. Some rugs are reversible -- both sides can be used. Most polypropylene rugs can be cleaned with a garden hose if dirt or spills occur.

If existing chair cushions are old and dated in pattern, switch them out to a solid pattern. Contrasting with the multiple-blue stripe rug, an orange cushion gives contrast and adds that second color needed in the plan.

The third color was introduced by adding lime green in a relaxing resin Adirondack-style chair.

Properties of resin chairs will provide easy cleaning by spraying with a hose or wiping down with a damp cloth. Adding an umbrella that is also protected from stain, mildew and UV from the sun will provide the right amount of shade. Making sure that shade is available for guests who don't like to sit in the sun should also be taken into consideration when designing your outdoor sitting area.

Accessorizing the space is easy. Mix the three colors through ceramic pots and garden ornaments. Accent pillows can be of pattern, novel or by adding the combination of colors, as in the example parrot pillow or in a solid color, like the blue pillow shown.

5 Tips for creating a low-maintenance outdoor space

Stripes make the perfect focal point for your patio.

Polypropylene provides extra durability in an outdoor rug.

Extend sun exposure with UV-resistant fabrics.

Look for items that are easy to wash with a garden hose.

Look for items that are indoor/outdoor use specific.