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5 Ways to Turn Your Patio into a Living Room

The best outdoor spaces feel like an extension of the house. If you’re looking for extra living space, or just enjoy being outside, it’s time to let the welcoming and cozy vibes flow onto your patio.

By thoughtfully arranging outdoor furniture and decor, and choosing fabrics that withstand the elements, you’ll have a space that you — and your guests — will never want to leave.

Here are five ways to create a patio oasis, with the help of Sunbrella® fabrics.

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1. Add an Awning for a Retractable Ceiling

Rain clouds or sunshine, having the option to take cover is key. Try an awning; they’re not just for storefronts. Welcome the sun or starlit sky as you curl up with a book or entertain friends. Take cover when you need to beat the heat or hide from rain. It’s all possible with a retractable awning.

Retractable awnings featuring Sunbrella Shade Fabrics are high performers — and they also make a statement. In addition to being UV protective (and even endorsed by the Skin Cancer Foundation*), they are water repellant, mildew-, mold-, and stain-resistant, and low maintenance. Available in solids or stripes, and an array of colors and neutrals, you’ll easily find an option that brings your design vision to life.

In addition to an awning, break out the patio umbrellas. They’ll provide additional, targeted shading and, when you’re entertaining, will serve as unspoken invitations to gather in small groups.

Extra inspiration: Don’t know where to begin? Start with the new Sunbrella Shade Studio. Upload an image of your space, then follow the easy steps to visualize different awning styles on your home.

2. Pick Patterns that Pop

Don’t be shy. The patio is a great place to try something new and go bold. Mix and match stripes with solids. Choose colors that stand out. You don’t need to be matchy-matchy. Differences in patterns and textures creates dimension and visual interest.

Sunbrella’s Emerge Fabric Collection Upholstery Selection offers a myriad of fade-resistant options. Think: everything from Bliss Dew (a fresh muted solid) to Detail Persimmon (an eye-catching diamond pattern) to Highlight Splendor (contrasting thin stripes).

Extra inspiration: For outdoor furniture and pillows, imagine a mix of colors and patterns that can complement or perfectly match the awning, then fill it with your favorite people.

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3. Up the Plushness

Think about what makes a sofa so amazing to sit on: the softness. Why not achieve that same level of comfort outside? Invest in quality cushions to make all your seating living-room-level cozy. Forget benches. Skip the Adirondack chairs. Instead, go for couches or daybeds. And don’t forget the throw pillows and coordinating ottoman that both maximizes relaxation and serves as extra seating in a pinch.

The old family rule — take your shoes off in the house — won’t apply outside. So look for durability in addition to softness. Especially if you have pets!

Extra inspiration: Look for water repellant and resistant fabrics like Sunbrella’s, which dry quickly after a rainfall, and resist mold and mildew. As soft as they are strong, they’re also fade- and stain-resistant, and easy to clean, even with bleach, as needed.

4. Make Space for Your Favorite Hobbies

Let’s talk pastimes. Do you love cranking music while cooking? Reading with your morning coffee? Catching the game on a big screen? Your favorite activities don’t need to be contained to four walls. Take them outside.

Consider your entire patio as a blueprint that you can break down into different mini interest areas. It could include the kitchen (aka: grilling zone), sitting area (home to an outdoor sofa and coffee table) and even a book nook (a deep, comfy chair in the corner). Incorporate shading and furniture that enable you to comfortably enjoy your space and hobbies any time of day or night.

Extra inspiration: Invest in an awning if you plan to have an outdoor TV. All the joys of watching — none of the glare from the sun.

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5. Pull it All Together With a Rug

A rug is the hero of your living room. And it can work the same magic outside, anchoring your space and creating visual interest.

When you look for an outdoor rug, seek out one that’s specifically made to withstand the elements. Typically, that means synthetic materials like acrylic, nylon and polypropylene — all machine-washable and durable. The Colonial Mills Sunbrella Solid is one such option that’s easy on the eyes — and comfortable to tread on, too.

Extra inspiration: If you have a narrow walkway connecting two areas of your patio or deck, adding an outdoor rug brings warmth and interest.

When you set out to create your perfect patio, remember: It’s fun to mix it up, and by choosing Sunbrella fabrics, you can ensure your shading and furniture fabrics complement each other beautifully.

* The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends certain Sunbrella fabrics in shading products as part of a complete sun protection regimen, including regular use of sunscreen, to aid in preventing sun-induced skin damage.

  • Kristine Hansen