How to Get Your Deck Ready for Summer

Everyone loves to be outside this time of year, but before summer gets here, make sure the most important 'room' in your house is in tip-top shape--- your deck! Your outdoor space should be something you are proud of because it is essential to entertaining in warm weather. Laurie Jenkins of Laurie Bell, a leading designer of outdoor furnishings and accessories, and Paul Schulman of Paul Schulman Design talked to us about a few easy tips to make your deck or patio a place you love.

Come Clean
Both Jenkins and Schulman tell us the secret to a deck makeover is to clean. In fact, you might spend most of your time on this step, but it makes your finished project last longer and look better.
All-weather pieces can be easily hosed off. Make sure to do this to get rid of dirt and pollen who your worst enemies, according to Jenkins. When cleaning cushions, check the manufacturer's instructions. Colorful weather resistant pillows can be used to keep them looking like new all year round. Paul Schulman suggests recovering old indoor pillows or cushions with waterproof, weatherproof fabrics to add a touch of comfort to an outdoor space.

Plants Bring Beauty
Jenkins maintains that a beautiful garden is a great way to complement a clean patio. When it comes to plants, the ones that thrive the best have drought tolerance and require less water. Look online for the best way to keep your gorgeous greens thriving. A growing trend is blending different greens together for a soothing garden. Drought tolerant plants also work from an environmental standpoint since you are using less water.

Ornamental grasses are becoming more popular every year, so if you decide to invite them into your outdoor space, find the best companion plants for them. Aim for different heights, textures and colors. Grasses come in many sizes and heights, giving the garden a pleasing, layered look; so consider balancing small plants with one large plant. You can add flowers for an infusion of color.
If you don't have time to maintain a manicured garden, Schulman suggests painting standard garden pots bright colors, filling them with dirt and adding silk flowers. This will keep your outdoor space looking fresh all year round!

Refresh your space with accessories. To create your own special ambience, accessorize with fun throws and rugs, and interesting lighting such as candles and electric lamps. Schulman recommends using adhesives to place floral decals on the outside wall of a house or apartment building to add weather resistant wall art.

Lighting creates the mood when entertaining outdoors. Functional lighting serves a purpose, but strategically placed and carefully planned accent lighting softens outdoor spaces, making them livable. Schulman suggests outdoor lamps as an alternative to cheesy tiki torches or standard outdoor spotlights. He also recommends an eco-friendly fireplace for cozy warmth without smoke, sparks or mess. Lighting helps to personalize your outdoor space and make it a livable area.
Jenkins tells us that umbrellas are great vehicles for adding drama to your space, in addition to offering shade when the sun is strong and privacy for a serene feel. They come in an array of colors and designs, and can easily create the theme for your outdoor space. Brightly colored umbrellas offer a festive scene for a party or dinner outdoors.

Ottomans offer multifunctional flexibility. Jenkins recommends using them as a table, a decorative piece to add color, or just a great place to put your feet. Sturdy yet lightweight, they're easy to move right where you need them, and they'll coordinate beautifully with the rest of your furnishings.
Now, you're ready to entertain!