$3 for 3 months. Save 90%.
$3 for 3 months. Save 90%.

Smart Solutions: Adding zip to your outdoor spaces

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

With more attention bestowed upon outdoor spaces for seasonal reasons and safety concerns when socializing, upping the comfort level of these additional living areas can enhance the experience. Fabric accents offer an easy and economical way to make your patio, porch or deck look and feel more welcoming as they soften hard surfaces from wood and stone, to wicker and metal.

Here are a dozen ideas to try.

Patio furniture may be attractive, but it doesn’t always feel as good as it looks when it comes to lounging. Comfy cushions in outdoor fabrics provide a quick fix for the seats and backs of your seasonal sofas and chairs. These simple add-ons can also pad garden benches and porch swings.

Make your outdoor space look and feel more luxurious and livable with the magic of fabric accents like cushions, pillows, curtains and rugs.

Though umbrellas are mainly there to provide shade, they also elevate the table where they add texture and dimension to a neutral setting. The variety of sizes and styles, including stand-alone options, makes the selection more impressive and flexible than ever.

Retractable awnings can also offer protection from the elements while introducing a classic pattern like stripes to your outdoor living space.

Canvas curtains or sheer draperies create a special effect while providing a sense of privacy to a gazebo or a patio below a deck. They also make an al fresco space feel more like an outdoor room.

Accent pillows add visual interest and comfort to your seating arrangement, while floor cushions offer more places to sit. Summery fabrics in happy hues celebrate the season.

Beach towels may be a given for those with swimming pools, but they also work for lounge chairs when soaking up the sun or reading in the shade even without water features. These colorful components can be stashed in a basket on a patio or deck.

Outdoor rugs let an al fresco setting simulate an indoor space. They also help to define and separate your seating areas for a more finished look.

Blankets and throws provide warmth on cooler nights and lend color and comfort to your extended living rooms. You’ll want to have enough on hand for family members and guests.

Tablecloths make a standard surface more stylish in no time. Washable styles are easy to maintain, while a quilt or throw can double as a covering when entertaining.  

Fabric poufs are perfect for porches, patios and other outdoor living areas as they help to convey a casual vibe. They also take up less space while offering more options as fill-ins for chairs, tables and footrests.

Woven baskets can store surplus pillows and other fabric accents or hold potted flowers and plants that also soften your environment.

Upholstered outdoor furniture from sectionals to chaises keeps you comfy as you take a nap in your natural surroundings.

Take a closer look at these living spaces to see which existing elements can be enriched, whether it’s the simple addition of a pillow or throw on your favorite Adirondack or rocking chair or a colorful rug for a dining table in an outdoor kitchen. Just because you’re outside shouldn’t mean you have to leave the concept of comfort behind.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at