Decorating Tips for Outdoor Spaces From Leslie Segrete, Home Improvement Expert

patio summer deck table chairs

Leslie Segrete is a home improvement expert with an eye for design and the skills to get the job done. You'll probably remember her from TLC’s Trading Spaces and While You Were Out.

Well, today Leslie is here to discuss tips and tricks for creating a fresh look for an outdoor living space this summer -- no matter what the budget or home aesthetic.


1. How do you decorate outdoors for summertime? What's the most important thing?

LS: Whether you have a patio, deck, backyard, or terrace, there are many ways you can easily transform your outdoor space into your own oasis. No matter what your budget, you can create a fresh look this summer, and the easiest way to modernize your outdoor space is to update your furniture. It’s essential to look for items that can withstand the weather. Today’s marketplace features everything from rugs, lighting, fabrics, and decorative accessories all made to be used outdoors.

2. Tell us three great tips for creating a fresh outdoor living space on a small budget? 

LS: Outdoor lighting is a wonderful way to brighten up your outdoor space so you can enjoy it day and night. Outdoor lighting doesn’t have to cost you a bundle; choices can range from simple twinkling lights for about $4 a strand or decorative lantern string lights for around $10 to landscape lighting for under $80. Landscape lighting is a great way to feature stand out items in your yard from a great tree to an arbor or a seating area.  You should combine different levels of lighting when adding landscape lighting; utilize up lighting to highlight a tree, down lighting to simulate moonlighting, and overall lighting to illuminate a seating area for after dark fun. Some low voltage lighting kits are even do-it-yourself projects. If you’re entertaining, something as simple as multi-color paper lanterns with string lights can spruce up your outdoor area dining area when draped under your umbrella or pergola. We even have simple white twinkle lights wrapped around a wrought iron trellis for a festive feature in our yard all year long. 

A fire pit is a fun and comforting focal piece to add to your outdoor living space -- and best of all it won’t break the bank. A fire pit can create a central point for a seating area perfect for after sunset conversation and the occasional ghost story. Plus, a fire pit is great for one of the classic summer activity of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. 

Finally, a barefoot and weather-friendly outdoor rug can add a sophisticated yet comfortable look to make your deck or patio more unique. An outdoor rug can also help to create a seating or dining area in an open yard if you don’t have a deck or patio. If you stick to a rug with neutral colors you can add color by accessorizing your outdoor space with vibrant flowers and landscaping.

3. If you have a little bit of money to spend, what outdoor decorating updates would you recommend for summer? 

LS: If you have some money to spend and you’re looking to replace that old grill of yours, an outdoor grill in a fun new color is a great addition to your deck or patio. I love to entertain and host large barbecues, so a grill with a large cooking surface is important to me. Kenmore has some really great options for grills. I love the Kenmore red grill available at Sears and Kmart because not only can it cook up to 40 burgers at a time but it also adds a splash of vibrant color to your outdoor space -- sure to impress any summer guest!  

However you choose to spend your summer décor budget, make choices that are going to last year after year to maximize your spending, so go for that grill or perennials that will stay with you for summers to come.

4. What simple backyard DIY project can make a big impact for an outdoor living space? 

LS: For an outdoor space, I like to add color in the landscaping. Perennial flowers and shrubs cost more in the short term, but will last for years. Annuals are also a great way to add a splash of color -- use them in planters to create a focal point for the space. Something as simple as planting a garden or colorful flowering plants around your patio’s perimeter can create a dramatic effect and serve as a visual boundary from the rest of the yard, creating an intimate space that evokes an actual room.

5. What do you recommend for backyards that get full sun exposure? 

LS: One of the easiest ways to add shade to the backyard is to purchase a patio furniture set that includes a table with an attached shade umbrella. On hot sunny days, nothing beats relaxing under a large umbrella while sipping a refreshing iced tea.  

A pergola is another great way to add shade to your backyard with out feeling too closed in. I love this Curved Steel Pergola from the Country Living collection at Kmart. It’s great because of the built in fabric panel that allows for a fun but functional decorative detail.

You can also plant shade-providing trees to your outdoor space. They will grow to become an amazing feature in your space but also help to lower energy costs in your home during the summer months by reducing the amount of heat being cast onto the home itself. 

6. What's your must-have product for outdoor entertaining?

LS: The most important product for your outdoor space is comfortable seating. Whether it is for outdoor dining or simply relaxing, your outdoor space is an extension of your home and should be a place to relax. Outdoor furniture has come a long way; treat yourself to comfortable seating with plush cushions. The best part is that it is actually affordable. Then when your budget allows layer on the decorative items that really show your true personality.

7. Tell us your idea of the perfect backyard summer evening. 

LS: After a fun-filled day chasing after our 2-year-old son, we love just relaxing. That is, of course, after the water table, slide, kiddie pool, and every toy we just had to have outside have gone night night. My husband and I just love sitting in our backyard with our twinkle lights, watching the fireflies and enjoying the fragrant summer breezes. Okay, maybe there’s a glass of wine or two involved. We usually only last about an hour or two after our son is asleep before we tire out, but it is those quiet moments together after family fun day that we love best.

Thanks for the great tips, Leslie! 

Leslie SegreteYou can watch Leslie Segrete in action on A&E’s new television series, $100 Makeover. She has been featured as a carpenter and designer on TLC’s Trading Spaces and While You Were Out. Leslie also hosts home improvement radio show, The Money Pit. Leslie is a mom, seamstress, carpenter, decorator, designer, and professional chef all wrapped up in one very energetic package. She's a true renaissance woman through and through!


Images via Leslie Segrete and A&E

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