Photo: shapecharge via

The weather is getting warmer, and that means outdoor entertaining is just around the corner. But if your outdoor seating area is a little lackluster, you might hesitate to invite friends and neighbors over to enjoy it.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to give your deck or patio a facelift. With a few easy tricks, you can level up your outdoor area and create a space that the whole neighborhood will talk about.

Refinish the Deck

A good place to start when giving your deck a new look is to take stock of its existing condition. If you have peeling paint or faded varnish, you probably want to strip those things away and repaint or refinish the deck. Check for loose posts, boards, or screws, and replace these to keep everything stable and safe. This is a practical choice that keeps your outdoor space looking its best from year to year and allows you to switch up the look every so often.

Add Lights

One of the most straightforward ways to dress up an outdoor space is to add lights. Not only do hanging lights create visual interest up high, but they allow your space to be used after the sun goes down. You can even get solar-powered lights that charge themselves up during the day, turn on automatically when it starts to get dark, and then shine for hours, without cords, wires, or the hassle of installation.

Paint Yourself an Outdoor Rug

If you love the look of outdoor floor coverings but aren’t sure how to deal with the hassle of an outdoor carpet, you can try painting your deck to resemble a patterned carpet. Give your deck a good cleaning and buy a large stencil from a craft store. With some sponges and exterior paint, you can paint a weather-proof pattern right on your decking.

Photo: xavierarnau via

Take Cover

Another double-duty addition to your deck is an overhead structure or cover of some kind. These can be slatted pergolas that allow some sunlight in and provide a great place for hanging plants, or they can be elastic tarps stretched between poles to provide shelter and shade while bringing geometric pops of color. Not only do these options make your deck look great, but they offer protection from the sun and the occasional small rain shower.

Add Some Green

You may think if you’re already outside, enough greenery surrounds you without adding more plants to your deck. But even if you have lush bushes and trees and a fantastic vegetable garden, your deck will undoubtedly benefit from a few well-placed plants. If you’re short on space, you can try planters mounted on the railings, or if you have plenty of space, arrange a cluster of potted plants to add color and interest to your deck.

Build a Privacy Wall

No matter how much we like our neighbors, sometimes we want a little bit of privacy for our outdoor spaces. But building a partition or privacy wall doesn’t have to be ugly and bulky or block the breeze or your views. Try standing up some wooden lattice at the edge of your deck to allow light through, or use trellises and climbing plants to create a verdant eye-catcher. Plus, if you’re short on space, this is an excellent way to incorporate a garden.

It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to refresh your outdoor space for the summer gatherings that are on their way. With a bit of creativity and some elbow grease, you can have a bright new space for enjoying al fresco days in time for Memorial Day cookouts.