Experts share the worst patio decorating mistakes and how to avoid them

Prepare for a stylish summer out on the patio with expert knowhow

patio decorating mistakes
(Image credit: Getty)

There's nothing better than soaking up some sun on the patio or enjoying some alfresco dining. If your outdoor living area is in need of some love, take note of these common mistakes people make when decorating them.

Keeping your outdoor living space neat and tidy with the best patio cleaners is a foundational step that shouldn't be overlooked. Our guide on how to clean garden furniture offers plenty of advice for bringing grubby items back to life. Then comes the fun bit of adding accessories, garden lighting ideas, and container plants.

patio decorating mistakes

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Not spending enough on outdoor furnishings

The first patio decorating mistake is to scrimp on outdoor furnishings. Or, if you do opt for high street buys, not treating them like interior items - according to garden designer Chris Harrington.

Outdoor living rooms are all the rage, and if that's the look you're going for, Chris warns against buying budget items. 'Anyone can get stuff for a photoshoot and make it look nice,' he says, on the topic of highly stylized patio areas we often see on Pinterest. 

'The reality of those products is that if you leave them outside for any length of time, they're going to deteriorate. If you're going to dress everything to the nth degree, acknowledge that you've got to take everything in, or you've got to invest in proper external stuff.'

patio decorating mistakes

(Image credit: Getty )

The HarringtonPorter creative director also argues that many of the outdoor furnishings that pop up on google aren't really fit for purpose. 'It's fine for a few months, but give it six months outside and all these lanterns will rust, the rugs will deteriorate, and the cushions fill with water through the zips.'

Forgetting outdoor storage

Chris also reminds us of the importance of outdoor storage. 'You can dress your patio as like you dress an indoor space, but have storage in your garden to put everything away,' he says.

'Be prepared that you can't leave throws and soft furnishings that are making these desirable photos outside. Having storage outside is a really good idea, just don't build them into your bench,' he adds. More on that in our piece on garden trends that make experts cringe.

patio decorating mistakes

(Image credit: Getty / Indy)

Bodged DIY jobs

Calum Maddock from HomeHow says, 'If you’re no good at DIY, don’t try and bodge a job of repairing or laying a patio; hire a professional. It will look better, last longer and save you money in the long run.'

Failing to plan the space

Interior designer and co-founder of La Di Da Interiors, Steph Briggs says not planning out a space before filling it with furniture is a big patio decorating mistake. 'If you are going to create an area on your patio for socializing or alfresco dining, think about the flow through and into the house,' she says. 

'You don't want to be stepping over people or furniture to gain access to the kitchen! If you are shopping for furniture, lay out boxes or mats to the size and shape of the furniture to get an idea of scale and setting before you buy.'

Take a look at our garden landscaping ideas for more tips and tricks.

Careful planning and a willingness to splash some cash seem to be the crucial factors to turn your lockdown safe space into the place to be. 

Millie Hurst

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.