Refresh your outdoor space for spring and summer


envy people with spacious backyards. All I have behind my condo is a little patio. But the little space I have makes me appreciate it even more, especially now that the days are getting longer and warmer. To truly get the most from your patio, a few improvements may be in order, especially after the wet winter we’ve had. So whether you have a backyard that rivals Versailles or a tiny apartment balcony, here are some simple ways to spruce up your outdoor space.

Re-cover outdoor cushions

The cushions on my outdoor chairs take a beating from the elements, but instead of buying new cushions, I re-cover them. My go-to resource for new cushion covers is slipcovershop.com. Just measure the dimensions of the cushions for your order, and in about a week you’ll be sent new custom covers in your choice of outdoor fabric. These covers are zippered, as well, so you can remove them and throw them in the washing machine as needed.

Update your pots

I often keep my potted outdoor plants in the plain plastic pots they come in. But what a difference it makes when you replace them with beautiful planters or even update the pots you have. A big trend right now is to take terra cotta planters — either new or used — and paint them. Crafts stores such as Michaels sell outdoor acrylic paint that will withstand sun and rain. What a great way to personalize something that’s usually so utilitarian.

Add an outdoor rug

One of the biggest differences you can make in your outdoor space is adding a rug, which makes the space more comfortable for bare feet and it helps define the space. Be sure to select a rug that’s designed for the outdoors. Pier 1 Imports and Cost Plus World Market have large selections of them. I bought mine at Costco.

Bring the indoors out

Take the comforts of home outside. If you have furniture pieces that rarely are used or in storage, place them outside to create a more livable space. A table and chairs will give you dining under the stars. A console table makes an ideal bar. If your space is uncovered and you are concerned about the elements, apply a coat of polyurethane to protect the furniture.

Stay cozy

Temperatures drop quickly in the Southern California evenings, so have blankets handy. Either drape them over seating or place them in outdoor storage ottomans. If you’re doing any kind of outdoor entertaining, have some extra blankets and sweaters available for guests who come unprepared for cooler evenings.

Light it up

Make use of string lights you have left over from the holidays and add some citronella candles to keep away insects. And if your patio can accommodate it, treat yourself to a fire pit. After all, it’s more fun being outdoors when you can make s’mores.


Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You  can see more of his do-it-yourself  projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.