Artificial plants spruce up patio
Winter is a great time to set a household goal for spring. Toward that end, you might consider sprucing up your available outdoor area to be more hospitable and attractive.
There are several ways to achieve this. Whether you have a front or back porch, a side balcony or a patio, start first by looking out your windows and taking note of what you see when you look at that space.
Is it crammed with bicycles and stacked with outdoor furniture? Is it sloppy looking? If so, it's time to tidy up.
Once things are put away, observe the floor or ground. Is the decking or concrete peeling, dinged or stained?
There are easy ways to improve the look of the peeling paint or stained concrete. One way is to cover it with an outdoor area rug, available online and in dozens of mail-order catalogs, made of synthetic and durable materials. Generally, outdoor rugs can be cleaned easily with a spraying from the garden hose.
Rugs are a good way include an inviting texture into your outdoor décor while also providing a seamless background as a base.
Another good look can be affected with interlocking, wooden, slat tiles. They create the feeling of a wooden deck without the expense.
If your view is marred by the neighbor's unsightly yard or balcony, think of ways to screen off the offensive sight.
Shown in the photo is an artificial outdoor boxwood plant sold as a wall tile. Home Infatuation, a leading supplier of artificial plants to the resort, theme park and hotel industry, manufactures it in the United States. The tiles are made of superior, commercial-quality materials that are resistant to all weather conditions and fading caused by the sun.
The foliage is constructed of rubberized plastic with embedded ultra-violet light inhibitors. Each tile is 12 inches square and has a flexible backing with holes so it can be attached to any surface. The tiles can be used to create a "green" wall by attaching them to any number of simple wooden trellises available at garden shops or nurseries for around $15 each. You could nail a carpet of green using finishing nails to old wood siding or a shabby-looking fence.
Another way to control the scene outside your window is to hang outdoor fabric once the danger of winter storms passes. Depending upon which area you want to screen off, perhaps off-the-shelf plain shower curtains could do the job. You might hang these from an overhead piece of the building with little C-hooks that easily screw into wood.
The typical shower curtain is about 70 inches long. If that is too short to adequately cover the space you want hide, you might need to look for outdoor textiles by the yard. These are available through drapery workrooms, upholstery shops or interior designers. If you can sew, it is a basic treatment that involves hemming the cut edges and devising a method of hanging the fabric.
Another easy way to shield your view is to purchase an outdoor woven or rolling shade. Even if you don't have the room for all the furniture necessary for a functional outdoor living room, you can set the stage as a vignette that is attractive with an area rug, potted plants and perhaps just one chair.
These days, there are floor lamps and table lamps on the market that are battery powered and perfect for outdoor spaces that don't have electrical outlets. Also new on the market are outdoor heaters that look like floor lamps. It is much easier to create the cozy look of a room with these pieces.
Take a critical peek at what your potted plants. Often they get quite pathetic over the winter. If your plants aren't perennials, pull them up and plant new ones. I sometime put struggling potted plants to recover in a "plant hospital" section of my yard. When they spring back to health, I rotate them back into hanging positions.
If you artificial plants, take care to select realistic-looking foliage. There is nothing as tacky as obviously artificial plants and flower. Be careful with this selection process.
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her bye-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.