By Gina G.

          Whether a screened in porch, a condo balcony, or small patio deck, outdoor spaces can provide a relaxing space to unwind and enjoy the weather.  However, because these spaces require considerations that inside the home do not, decorating them can seem overwhelming.  Here are some tips that will have your outdoor space looking top notch in no time:

Furniture is an essential element to creating an enjoyable outdoor space.  Before purchasing any seating or tables, take measurements of your space.  This will provide tremendous assistance in choosing what type of furniture.  For instance, if you have a condo balcony, you may not have the space for a full loveseat or table.  Instead, a café style table and chairs may be more appropriate.  Conversely, if you have a sizeable screened in porch, a full patio set complete with side tables, love seats and oversized chairs may fill in the space nicely.  And, for a small patio deck, you may consider more creative furnishings such as a hammock.  Be sure to find furniture made from materials (like wicker and vinyl) that will hold up in various weather and that can be easily cleaned if need be.

Another consideration is how to manage your exposure to the elements when enjoying your outdoor space.  Whether you are reading or enjoying a cold beverage, the sun can impact your comfort level.  If you have windows with glass in your space, consider tinting the windows.  More commonly though, these outdoor spaces are just screened in without any glass or actual windows.  If this is your situation, consider sunweaves or solar shades for your porch.  They will reduce sunlight without blocking your view.  They also come on simple roller shades and can easily fit under roofing structure.  Although some of them may require you to roll them up when it is raining or extremely windy, most are made of materials that can withstand exposure to moisture.  Basic awnings that can easily be affixed (and removed from) a wall are another option for small patios or balconies.  Finally, beware of wooden or metallic materials to help reduce the sunlight; these materials do not hold up well outside the home.

Other décor ideas for outdoor spaces include adding plants, lights, wind chimes and bird boxes.  Adding plants can really spruce up an outdoor space.  If you have a smaller space like a balcony or deck, consider hanging plants over potted ones in order to best utilize your limited space.  However, if you have a larger room, than potted plants can be beautiful additions.  Hanging lights, whether on vines or independent bulbs, can be away to brighten up your space for those lovely summer and fall evenings.