How to Play With Patterns in Your Outdoor Space


Patterns add character and depth to any space, even your deck or yard. Gone are the days of splashing your umbrella and cushions with the same explosion of floral print though — the modern way is to mix motifs.

Picking out a new palette for your patio also means choosing cozy textiles and upholstery that are designed to weather the elements, so the hues won’t fade or fall victim to mold and mildew. Sunbrella fabrics are woven with strong fibers that repel water, making rain, sweat and muddy paw prints a breeze to clean. The colors stay vivid season after season, and Sunbrella offers a slew of hues and patterns so you can fully embrace your creative side.

However, there is an art to making masterful combinations. “The key to mixing patterns is having a variety of pattern sizes and textures,” says McCall Dulkys of Interiors By McCall. “In a grouping of three pillows, for instance, I would have one large-style pattern, such as a thick, bold stripe, one smaller pattern, perhaps a small-scale floral, and one solid color, but in a different texture.”

To keep things looking visually cohesive, Mary Patton of Houston-based Mary Patton Design suggests picking patterns in the same color family to avoid overwhelming the space.

On that note, solid colors have their place in this scenario, too — they are great for grounding the look. Straightforward shades make for a foundation that’s versatile and has longevity, says Nicole Salceda of Bay Area design studio Eye For Pretty. “It’s always a good idea to keep your main outdoor upholstery pieces (sofas, sectionals and club chairs) in a solid fabric,” she adds.

Now, to help you play with patterns like a pro, check out (or feel free to completely copy) our mood boards filled with options using the vibrant designs and colors of Sunbrella fabrics.

Going Green

sunbrella green pattern mixing

Greens are a natural choice for an outdoor space because they “give a nod to the surrounding outdoor landscape,” says Patton. She adds that while shades of green are trending, it’s also a classic color that works “as a chic neutral that is a little bit different and wears well in high-performance fabrics.”

Set the scene with a creamy sectional and add oversized palm leaf-printed and wide striped pillows. A subtly striped outdoor rug in a mossy shade grounds the space, while a forest green umbrella adds dimension (and shade). An olive ottoman rounds out the color spectrum.

Sunbrella Border Stripes Rug

Sunbrella Border Stripes Rug

Citrus Splash

sunbrella warm collage

An outdoor space is ripe for fresh hues inspired by fruits. A loveseat and chair in solid terracotta sets the scene for colorful pillows adorned with diamonds, berries and stripes, which play well together thanks to a similar color vibe.

When using different shades, create unity with colors grouped as a vignette, like these patterned pillows. “Thick stripes look great when paired with smaller patterns,” Salceda says. Tangerine chair cushions nestled in a geometric metal frame and a lemon-hued pouf are vibrant without going over the top.

Diamond Block Outdoor Pillow

Diamond Block Outdoor Pillow

Now 28% Off

Impression Pillow by Elaine Smith

Impression Pillow by Elaine Smith

True Blue

sunbrella blue collage

For a beach bungalow or poolside retreat, shades of blue complement the surroundings. “Blues are the easiest shades to mix and match,” says Dulkys, who draws on waterfront views as inspiration for many of her clients in South Florida. “They tend to complement one another, so for an easy color combo, blues are hard to mess up.”

A navy sofa with white piping and multi-striped pouf set a nautical tone, made a little more eclectic by subtle palm-embroidered pillows in a chambray shade. A baby blue striped rug contains thin opposing stripes, lending extra dimension.

Sunbrella Channel Stripe Rug

Sunbrella Channel Stripe Rug


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