Give your urban space gravitas with these industrial outdoor string lights from HomeSense. During the day, string lights can look cheap instead of chic, which isn’t appealing even if you're on a budget. Instead, these affordable string lights sport metal cages that wrap around the bulbs, while warm copper-hued fittings hint at years gone by. At nighttime, these reclaimed-looking lights will bath your space in a warm glow. $19.99, HomeSense
More is more. While we like the understated look of a single string of lights, if you have the space, criss-cross multiple strands to create a “starry night” in your backyard.
Channel the Japanese art of imperfection by bringing wabi-sabi style in serene shades of blue and cream to your outdoor tableau. These irregular-shaped dishes by GLUCKSTEINHOME have a hammered texture and broad brushstrokes of watery tones that look like Japanese ceramics. But the outdoor-friendly tableware is actually made of melamine. Another bonus: the BPA-free dinner plate, salad plate and oblong platter are dishwasher safe. From $4.99–$9.99, Hudson’s Bay
During your next dinner party, keep the look elegant (and sustainable) by skipping wasteful paper serviettes and using versatile linen napkins like these ones from Williams-Sonoma.
When your backyard is beckoning, there’s nothing quite like a classic hammock to answer the chill-time call. This Multi-stripe Hammock-in-a-Bag by Hudson’s Bay showcases the company’s signature stripes, letting you add a not-too-rustic touch of Canadiana to your outdoor oasis. Steel reinforced loops and hanging hardware make installation a breeze so you can spend more time swaying when summer is in full swing. $60, Hudson’s Bay
As tempting as it may be to keep your hammock up all season, bring it inside on damp days to keep it looking fresh. And be sure to bring your Canadian comfort on stylish sojourns: the handy storage bag is ideal for toting the hammock to the park or beach.
Not all decades were so stylish, but this Sixties Bench by Fermob brings a new era of sexy back outdoors. The shapely bench is big enough (118 cm wide by 64 cm deep by 72 cm high) to let you sprawl out a bit for an afternoon power nap in the sun. And its curvy lines and open criss-cross weave gives it a lightness that won’t overwhelm a garden or small space.
Choose from neutral tones such as white and Storm Grey, or opt for a hit of colour with Prune (pictured) or Paprika, which are sure to add energy to the most sedate concrete patio. Sixties Bench is a swinger, too. It can be used inside or out thanks to an anti-UV powder coating that will help protect it from the elements. Add to that an aluminum tube frame, high-density resin seat and a three-year guarantee. $1,076 (available on request), Orling & Wu
Blur the lines by using pieces that work in both your inside and outside worlds. Mid-century modern inside? Use similar elements outside to create a seamless look when extending your space.
Bring a bohemian vibe to a subdued patio setting with an artsy assortment of outdoor cushions. We love the idea of mixing florals with stripes or geometric patterns for an unfussy look that embodies summer style. The details on these pillows, like the pompom trim and reversible patterns, give them an extra dash of couture charm without the haute price tag. $24.99 each, HomeSense
Pile it on. Outdoor furniture doesn’t usually have solid wood frames or down seat cushions, so load up on the comfort factor. Use oversized floor pillows on outdoor rugs and bring in some poufs for propping up feet.
Pint-sized patios may not have a space to spare, but outfit them with a couple of these eye-catching Solair chairs and you’ll be set for the season. Designed in Montreal in the 1970s, the inimitable “hotel chair” has stylish staying power, meaning you won’t soon tire of their old-school awesomeness. The plastic shell seat comes in eight hot hues like lemon yellow, juicy orange and turquoise, plus classics colours such as black and white. $145, Vancouver Special
Be sure to mash up your eras by pairing these retro beauties with more modern pieces to create a look that's vintage-inspired not throwback in time.
Entertaining outdoors requires accessories that can withstand both the elements and accidents without sacrificing style. This laminated birchwood cocktail tray hits the mark with its bold-hued silhouette of the Vancouver skyline. It’s part of a globe-trotting collaboration that embraces London designer Yoni Alter’s City Shapes artwork with Sweden craftsmanship for U.S. brand Teroforma (they introduced the original whiskey stones). Measuring 33 cm by 21 cm, the stylish tray is slim, light, stackable and dishwasher safe. Cue the cocktail hour. $49.50, Walrus
Even casual trays can look chic when paired with accents in clear acrylic, natural woods and ceramics. Avoid warm metals, which offer a glam factor that might overwhelm.
What’s better than your very own garden gnome? Two of your very own garden gnomes! These surly looking stools-slash-tables named Attila and Napoleon are the brainchild of designer Philippe Starck and are made by Italy’s Kartell. They bring just the right level of quirk to your patio or garden with their cherubic faces and non-conformist names. The gnomes’ typical pointy hats have been transformed into flat tops so you can press them into service as extra seating or a place to prop your PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon). They won’t talk back, we promise; but watch them carefully in case a passerby wants to take one on walkabout. $464 each, Designhouse
Keep the gnomes from looking too twee by letting them be the one bold element in your outdoor space. You’re going for cool, not kitsch.
With the warmer weather already in high swing, cocktails are increasingly quaffed on the patio and dinner parties are making their way out of the dining room and into the garden. It's time to make the most of your outdoor living spaces, whether sprawling backyard or compact condo patio.
Click through to find your own style with these eight inspirational pieces from bohemian and Canadian to hipster and industrial.
Janet Gyenes is a writer, editor, beverage columnist and co-founder of 70 magazine, an online travel publication. She has co-authored two travel guidebooks on Vancouver and has put her insatiable curiosity to work in words and photos, covering topics such as tasting sherry in Spain, mule-riding in Molokai, and tracking textile trends in Turkey. She regularly writes for BCLiving about food, beverage, design and more.