Even the most uninspiring concrete slab can become a lively and welcoming outdoor room overnight with a cheerful infusion of color, character, and comfort.


Talk about a blank slate! Rock and cement bounded by a fence and looming shrubs—nothing enticing there. The most you can say for this space is that it offers a nicely neutral backdrop for anything we want to add.


And add we did. Colorful and comfy furnishings in a cozy grouping transforms this bleak patio into an outdoor living room that invites company and conversation. Lots of container plantings around the perimeter provide an immediately lush look.


With lightweight all-weather furniture (ideal for flexible arrangements), we created a sitting and dining area on a 8×10-foot slab. By adding soft cushions, a collection of vintage lanterns, and a cluster of potted plants, this desolate space was transformed into an instant oasis guaranteed to be a welcoming, as well as low maintenance, destination all season long. One tall and lush potted palm lends a feeling of warm tropics and cool coastal breezes.


Small tables are easy to reconfigure depending on your entertaining needs and ensure that there’s always a place nearby to rest a drink or a good book. Accent your tables with potted succulents and collected conversation pieces like our railroad lanterns.


Accent pillows provide pattern, color, and comfort while a snuggly throw or two on hand offers warmth in the cool evening air.


An inviting side chair at a right angle to the sofa completes the intimate sitting area. A ceramic garden stool acts as side table here but can stand in for seating in a pinch. The formerly neglected slab of concrete fits a lot of living into a small space.


A mix of solid, floral, and decorative pattern offers visual interest that plays off the neutral background of the patio and furniture. Beading on this pillow creates a whimsical and textural detail.


A lively patterned outdoor rug defines our room, grounds the furnishings, and provides much needed softness underfoot.


The patio gets a full-on blaze of afternoon sunshine that heats up quickly without some kind of canopy. We created some much-needed shade with an expansive patio umbrella. The green hue blends nicely with the surrounding foliage.


In the evening, we can light up our canopy with hanging paper lanterns fitted with battery-operated lamps. The mix of different sizes, solid colors, and perky patterns adds a playfully festive touch.


Previously just a half-hearted cluster of bistro furnishings adrift on a sea of concrete, this folding table and chairs offers a spot just outside the door for morning coffee. When entertaining, it can be quickly relocated to serve as a bar and replaced with a console table buffet.


A pair of outdoor artworks in vivid color breaks up the large neutral expanse of exterior wall. Look for weatherproof panels like these, metal wall hangings, or unique found objects.


For instant impact, we grouped planted containers on and around the patio. As you would in a bed or border, we layered them with a variety of foliage, color and texture.


An old railroad crossing sign marks the spot. The vintage piece relates to the collectible railroad lanterns on the tables and creates a coherent connection between the potted garden and the sitting room.


Assemble an instant garden of clustered, potted plants with these tips in mind.
Vary plant heights: Go as tall as you can, with Buckthorn Fine Line™ or palmetto varietals, then layer in mid-range, short, and trailing plants to build a unique plant horizon.

Mix in florals: Work with plenty of tough colorful plants, such as hibiscus, lantana, and impatiens. Play with different-sized flower heads, interesting shapes (such as the lace caps of Hydrangea Lets Dance® Starlight) as well as clustered or single buds. Group plants according to their sun/shade and watering needs.

Use variegated leaves: Plants with striated leaves, such as Rhododendron Bollywood, look great in shady spots and create visual interest before flowering plants are in bloom. Chartreuse-leafed plants, like Lil’ Miss Sunshine™ Caryoptertis, lighten up dark spots and add a sunny atmosphere to the garden.

Alternate foliage textures: Mix feathery foliage, such as that of Elderberry Black Lace™, with spiky Purple Fountain Grass and the broad, flat leaves of Hydrangea Pinky Winky.

Play with Pots: Vary your garden pots with respect to size as well as material. Employ a mix of terracotta, metal, and woven containers; this implies a collection gathered over time.


Products that may be of interest:

Potted shrubs and annuals from Proven Winners, provenwinners.com

Outdoor rug from Home Decorators Collection, homedecorators.com

All-weather wicker loveseat and chair, pillows, throw, garden stool, umbrella, paper lanterns, wall art, goblets from Pier 1,

Krylon 53533 Watermelon Interior and Exterior Decorator Paint – 12 oz. Aerosol

© Caruth Studio

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