If you’re thinking of giving your outdoor space a summer refresh, you might want to read this first.

By Marisa Spyker
May 07, 2018
Photo: Peter Murdock

Whether it’s the bright blue of a crystal-clear sky, the deep green of palm leaves, or the electric red blooms of geranium bushes, color and the outdoors—especially on the coast—are practically soul mates.

So, naturally, when it comes to decorating the alfresco spaces of our homes that we spend some of our most treasured moments in, we often seek cheerful palettes that (may or may not) stray a little outside our typical color comfort zones. And while lilac, lavender and seafoam are perfectly pretty, if you have an itch to do something wild—like a lobster-red coffee table or a cocktail of citrus-hued throw pillows—there’s no better place than your outdoor living room.

Annie Schlechter 

Thank the sun for this: Due to the overdose of natural light, the hottest and most saturated shades of color are golden outdoors. (It’s similar to the reasons you might not want to use a very saturated hue in a room that doesn’t get tons of natural light—unless you’re going for the dramatic effect.)

Related: 5 Paint Color Secrets Your Realtor Wish You Knew:

Photo by Laurey W. Glenn; Produced by Lindsey Ellis Beatty and Rachael Burrow; Architectural design by Matthew Savoie of Savoie Architects

The way a color is interpreted depends hugely on lighting conditions; harsh, bright light tends to temper bold hues. Oftentimes, a shade that looks perfect in a showroom can be all wrong by the time you get it home. “It's best to make color decisions onsite to avoid picking one that comes off as either too weak or out of place altogether,” says designer Meg Braff.

Photo: Jean Allsopp and Tria Giovan; Stylist: Rachael Burrow and Lynn Nesmith

If making a color call at home before purchasing an outdoor item isn’t an option, err on the side of caution—which, in this case, means going a tad brighter than you think you should (yes, really!). Once at home and under the afternoon sun, the brightest of virtually all brights will glow.

We’re all about more color! For more outdoor decorating inspiration, check out these 65 beachy porches and patios.

Photo by Christopher Shane; Styling by Elizabeth Demos
The new open pavilion doubles as extra sleeping quarters. Mosquito screens pull down from the eaves, and built-in seating can be used as bunks. The fabric is by Perennials, and the rope dining chairs are by YLiving.
Photo by David Tsay; Styling by Rachael Burrow