Warm summer months are ideal for eating al fresco and hosting get-togethers on your patio.
But if your outdoor space hasn’t been used in a while, you may need to dust off your cushions and find a spot to store your rusted gardening shears before inviting everyone over.
Here’s how to get your outdoor space looking clean and guest-ready in no time:
Clear the clutter
The first step in revamping your outdoor space is getting rid of the clutter that builds up. That means gathering up any toys, crinkled magazines, workout equipment, gardening tools, towels or lost shoes littering your outdoor area. Unless you have a designated space to put everything, set these items aside for now until you can properly organize them.
Start with the stuff you can either sweep away or pick up quickly, like dead tree branches, crumpled leaves, twigs and trash.
Once your patio or yard space is free from debris, tackle the surfaces. Certified professional organizer Ellen Delap recommends using a power hose on your deck or patio to blast away caked-on dirt and grime.
Next, use a wet washcloth or towel to wipe down tables and other furniture. Don’t forget to wipe down weather-resistant pillows and chair covers, either, says Suzanne O’Donnell of My LA Organizer—these are often covered in a thin film of dust and pollen.
Organize and store your stuff
Maybe you’ve got pool toys and squirt guns galore, tons of gardening tools or piles of sports equipment you don’t know what to do with. Don’t stress—finding a space to store your belongings just requires a little imagination and resourcefulness.
First, gather everything you like to use or store outdoors so you know what you’re working with, then group your belongings into categories by activity or type.
From there, take advantage of the storage options you may already have, like a side yard or garage cabinet. For everything else, consider investing in simple, long-term storage solutions. O’Donnell recommends using stylish storage benches to hold cushions, towels and everything in between.
Delap says pool toys, cleaning supplies, or yard maintenance essentials can fit inside high-quality plastic-covered bins made to resemble chic chests, while gardening tools can go in teak storage boxes or small sheds. Sports equipment like balls and rackets can be stored in large baskets.
For easy accessibility, Delap suggests using stylish hooks on the side of your house or fence to hang towels or gardening equipment.
Map out your seating
The layout of your outdoor area, whether it’s an expansive deck, mid-size garden or teeny balcony, can play a major role in making your space look organized and put-together. Before you rearrange your furniture, Delap advises thinking about how you want to use your space. Do you want to host large barbecues? Invite a few friends over to drink wine and play cards? Organize an intimate summer dinner party?
Having an intention and vision for the space will make it much easier to set up. From there, Delap suggests creating distinct areas within your outdoor space that are separated by activity, like dining areas and recreation zones.
Use your chairs and benches to create a shaded area where people can kick back and chat with a drink, or get creative and arrange all your potted plants together in a corner to make a mini garden.
Style your space
No need to have a knack for decorating—making your outdoor space look stylish and inviting just takes a few simple updates.
“Setting up your outdoor space should be like setting up your living room,” says O’Donnell. “Add pillows, ottomans, and other accessories to make it a cozy, comfortable vibe.”
Other tiny tweaks that make a big impact are candles, throw blankets, fairy lights and fresh greenery. To give your outdoor area a more dynamic look, utilize the vertical space, too: hang wind chimes, glass terrariums, or paper lanterns.