10 outdoor decoration trends for 2017

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Have you made a New Year’s resolution to redecorate your outdoor living area? Perhaps it’s looking a little tired and you simply want to spruce it up, or perhaps you want to start from scratch and redesign the entire thing.

Whatever your décor goals, you may be in need of some inspiration. So let’s take a look at 10 of the most popular trends set to dominate outdoor decoration in 2017! There are plenty of ideas here, ranging from outdoor kitchens to colour blocking to sustainable outdoor living, so read on to get up-to-date and inspired.

Indoors meets outdoors

One of the biggest outdoor decoration trends in 2017 will be the blurring of lines between the indoors and the outdoors. Outdoor living areas will no longer be used only for the occasional barbeque or afternoon drink on the patio. Instead, they’ll be treated more as an extension or continuation of the house itself.

Here are a few ways you can tap into this trend and bring the indoors out:

Consider a covered outdoor area. Installing a permanent or temporary roofing solution helps the indoors flow seamlessly into the outdoors, creating an outdoor ‘room’ of sorts. A roof or cover provides protection from the elements, adds an extra level of comfort, and increases the usability of the whole area. If you don’t want to go with a traditional roof, there are plenty of other options including awnings (retractable ones are a handy choice), pergolas, shadecloths and canopies.

Branch out with your furniture choices. You don’t have to stick to the same old traditional outdoor furniture materials. Out with the old-fashioned steel and glass outdoor settings, and in with the comfortable furniture and fabrics! Thanks to the availability of new fabrics made from durable, waterproof and fade-resistant acrylic fibres, you’re now able to create a real outdoor ‘living room’. Think sofas, armchairs and daybeds; wooden furnishings such as dining settings (specially treated to withstand the outdoors); and, of course, plenty of comfy cushions in materials that resist mould and mildew.

Bring traditional indoor elements outside. Things you might only expect to see in an indoor living room – such as fireplaces, artwork, ceiling fans, decorative lamps, even entertainment systems – can all find a place in your outdoor area. The idea is to make it feel as much as possible like a room in itself, rather than a ‘patio’ as such.

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Outdoor kitchens

Speaking of indoors meets outdoors… Meet the next 2017 trend: fully equipped outdoor kitchens. These handy outdoor additions really started to gain popularity throughout 2016, and will continue to do so this year.

Most outdoor living areas have a barbeque as a matter of course. But the idea of an outdoor kitchen is to take things to the next level, transporting the whole cooking experience outside. We’re talking fridges, sinks, cabinets and storage spaces, cooktops as well as barbeques, proper lighting, and plenty of bench space.

Elements such as pizza ovens and fire pits are also popular additions to outdoor kitchens. And if you really want to splash out and get fancy, add another level of luxury with things like ice-makers, drinks stations and coolers, or even a poolside kitchen with a swim-up bar counter.

Don’t forget to incorporate the dining experience, too: create an ‘outdoor dining room’ adjacent to your outdoor kitchen with a long table and plenty of seating for eating al fresco and hosting gatherings.

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Sustainable outdoor areas

More and more people are trying to do their part when it comes to sustainability, and in 2017 this is set to extend into the design and decoration of outdoor living areas. When it comes to your home, focusing on sustainability simply means things like:

  • Reducing waste and energy/water consumption
  • Using less materials (or using more recycled materials)
  • Encouraging the growth of native plants
  • Lessening your home’s negative environmental impact as much as possible.

Here are a few ways to make your outdoor area that little bit more sustainable and eco-friendly in 2017:

Incorporate edible gardens. Growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs is a great way to incorporate sustainability into your outdoor area. Incorporating edible gardens into your landscaping helps you become more self-reliant when it comes to food. Plus, when planned and planted properly, they look great! Try creating a blended garden with a mixture of edible and ornamental plants.

Wall-mounted vertical herb gardens are an attractive option and can provide a gorgeous, natural focal point for your outdoor area. Fruiting vines and potted berry bushes are also great decorative options. Fruit trees are a beautiful addition as well, and bigger varieties can provide some much-needed shade for an outdoor living space (not to mention all the delicious fruit!).

Bring the birds and the bees to your backyard. A growing trend in outdoor area design is the incorporation of a beehive or even a chicken coop. Suburban beekeeping in particular is becoming more and more common. It’s great for the environment, and a beehive definitely provides an interesting talking point when you have guests over for outdoor gatherings.

Make native/local plants the focus of your greenery. Try to use more native plants to create a sustainable landscape in your garden. As well as supporting wildlife such as beneficial insects/pollinators and native birds, native plants require less transport, and therefore less carbon emissions. Plus, there are plenty of beautiful varieties that can help you create gorgeous focal points in and around your outdoor area.

Tip: another great way to incorporate sustainability into your outdoor revamp is to repurpose and ‘upcycle’ items – see number 7 below for more on this.

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Colour blocking

Speaking of colour palettes… It’s not all about neutrals this year! Another outdoor décor trend we’ll be seeing is colour blocking. Usually, this is a term you hear in the fashion world, but it’s making its way into the world of outdoor decorating as well.

Basically, colour blocking refers to the use of solid, discrete blocks of colour. In the context of an outdoor space, colour blocking can be used in a number of ways:

A feature wall. A splash of bright colour on one wall in your outdoor area is super effective. It can be used to frame some potted plants or offset by a contrasting artwork, or it may simply serve as a bright backdrop to a piece of outdoor furniture. Tip: If your outdoor area has no wall to transform into a colour block, perhaps try creating the same effect with some patio curtains.

Brightly coloured furniture. Colour blocking can be achieved with a few carefully chosen pieces of furniture. This technique is particularly effective if the rest of your outdoor area’s colour palette is quite muted. Think outdoor sofas or upholstered chairs in contrasting or complementary shades, or even just a few simple cushions that provide bright pops of solid colour. Plant pots are a great way to colour-block, too.

An outdoor rug. Remember above how we talked about bringing the outdoors in? Well, you’ll combine two trends in one if you use an outdoor rug for colour blocking! A sturdy, durable rug in a great colour can really brighten up an outdoor area in a subtle, easy way.

Natural, more rustic materials

Another trend for 2017 sees outdoor décor stepping away from all things hyper-modern and flashy, and towards a more natural look. Whereas a modern, geometric style has been favoured in recent years, this coming year will see a focus on embracing all things rustic.

Natural materials such as wood, wicker, rattan and bamboo are all popular choices for furniture. Flooring and other structural elements (such as in-built barbecues) have an authentic, sturdy and natural effect when using any variety of stone, such as limestone, flagstone or slate. Woven textures are also a popular option, as are materials such as canvas or cotton for things like outdoor cushions.

There is one downside to this trend, however, and that’s the need to ensure that any natural materials you use are appropriately weather-proofed. Unfortunately, natural materials don’t tend to last as long outdoors as synthetic ones. Special treatment is required to make these materials more durable and protect them from water, mould/mildew, sun/heat, and colour fading.

As you’d expect, a more neutral colour palette tends to accompany the trend towards natural furniture materials. Shades of white, beige and grey, as well as earthy brown tones, work well to create a pleasing palette alongside rustic outdoor furniture.

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Mismatched pieces

Outdoor spaces with a bohemian feel will be very much on trend in 2017. There’s no longer any need to stick to a strictly matching scheme when it comes to your outdoor furniture and accessories. Go a little crazy and mix-and-match!

Spontaneity and uniqueness are key here, but pieces must also work well together to avoid clashing and crowding. Try one of the following for stylish mismatching:

  • Pairing modern items with complementary vintage pieces
  • Mixing and matching items inspired by (or collected from) different countries and cultures
  • Experimenting with different patterns and textures that play off one another
  • Introducing one or two elements that contrast with the overall style and become feature pieces
  • Creating your own colour palette and putting together your own outdoor suite with those colours.

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Upcycled and repurposed items

For many keen outdoor decorators, 2017 will be the year of upcycling, repurposing and revamping. As well as being environmentally friendly, this trend allows you to create a truly unique and original outdoor living area.

Basically, upcycling involves taking household items that would otherwise be discarded and turning them into pieces of outdoor furniture, planters, decorative elements and so on. It’s a fun DIY project and a great way to reuse, repurpose or restore items that would otherwise simply go to waste.

Perhaps the most popular variation of the upcycling and repurposing trend is pallet furniture. Wooden pallets are easy to acquire and transform into tables, chairs, outdoor sofas and other pieces of furniture. Pallet furniture can be left as it is for a natural, rustic look, or painted to add interest. Other sturdy recyclable materials, such as old wooden doors, can also be used to create beautiful, unique outdoor furniture.

If you’re looking for things to revamp and don’t have anything around the house, try searching op shops, garage sales, secondhand furniture stores or even the local tip for salvageable items.

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Water features

Whether they’re small and discreet or large, focal centrepieces, water features are set to be a huge trend for outdoor décor in 2017. Once confined to more formal gardens, water features are now making a splash (if you’ll pardon the pun) in all kinds of outdoor areas.

There’s a good reason they’re popular. The ambient sound of running water transforms any outdoor space into a calm, tranquil environment, and the sight of a gracefully flowing fountain or a vertical ‘water wall’ brings life to the whole area.

Some water features can be expensive, but you don’t necessarily have to spend up big to create a striking effect. Self-contained systems, such as portable fountains or urns, are stylish choices that suit any budget. Other popular styles of water feature include:

Fountains. Perhaps the most common and versatile type of water feature, fountains come in many styles, such as large vases, columns, natural rock fountains, or traditional garden-style fountains.

Rock waterfalls. The natural look and sound of a flowing rock waterfall is especially beautiful, but it can be one of the more expensive types of water feature.

Water ‘walls’. This style transforms an entire wall (freestanding or attached to the house) into a cascading flow of water. It serves as a striking focal point in any outdoor area.

Small ponds. This ornamental style can be enhanced with the addition of things like floating candles, water lilies or even koi fish.

Large ponds. These are often the central focus of an outdoor area, such as in a full-sized, Asian-inspired water garden.

Trellises

The humble trellis is a great outdoor décor aspect to consider in 2017. Made from wood or metal and existing in a number of different styles, a trellis can serve both functional and aesthetic purposes in your outdoor area.

Here are some of the most useful functions of a trellis:

Privacy. A trellis can be used to screen your outdoor area from neighbouring houses or the street. It’s one of the most subtle and attractive ways to introduce some privacy into your backyard – and if it’s covered with plants, it can provide some much-needed shade, too.

Transition point or entryway marker. Use a trellis as a transition point between areas of your outdoor space – for example, between your main entertaining area and the garden. Alternatively, place an archway-style trellis at the entry to your backyard to welcome guests in style.

Decoration. Trellises come in many striking and beautiful designs, and can serve as a great decorative feature in your outdoor space. Ornate metal trellises can be left unadorned to create a piece of garden art, or you can decorate further with greenery – see below…

Plants. Flowering vines and other greenery help trellises become a gorgeous, living feature of your outdoor area. Climbing plants such as wisteria, clematis, honeysuckle, morning glory, bougainvillea or ivy are perfect for adoring trellises. You can even use a trellis to create that edible garden we talked about above – passionfruit, berries or even squash and snow peas are all options.

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Bronze and gold accents

Copper and rose gold have been big trends in home décor in recent years, especially with the rise of the industrial look. But these burnished metals are now falling a little out of fashion. What you’ll see more of in 2017, especially in outdoor decorating, are bronze and gold accents instead. These shiny, warm metals will help add a touch of class and elegance to any outdoor area. Plus, they help to create the ‘indoors meets out’ feel we mentioned above.

There are plenty of places to incorporate bronze and gold accents into your outdoor décor, such as:

  • Light fixtures
  • Furniture
  • Decorative pots
  • Water features
  • Table centrepieces and accessories
  • Outdoor art pieces.

Just be careful not to overdo it – less is more when it comes to incorporating metallics into your outdoor décor. Pair your metallic accents with natural materials to create a subtle, striking effect and avoid looking tacky or overdone.

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These are just a few of the outdoor decoration trends set to take over in 2017. So whatever your outdoor décor goals, take inspiration from these and you won’t set a foot wrong. Happy decorating!

Written by Claire Bradshaw

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