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Tips for Decorating a Small Lanai

Updated on December 10, 2013

A lanai, also known as a porch, veranda, or sometimes patio, can be the perfect place to unwind after a hard day at work, especially during the spring or fall months when the weather is nice. The biggest difference between a lanai is covered by a roof, is often screened, and is usually designed to be a complete outdoor living space. Therefore, you can treat it just like another room for your home. Here are some tips for decorating a small lanai.

A modern, contemporary color palette and design style helps you maximize the space available. Wrought iron furniture and cool colors make the space feel clean and elegant, and be sure to decorate with clean lines and lots of metals to keep with the contemporary design style. Geometric shapes, such as concentric circles, squares, and straight lines are perfect examples of what to look for in fabrics and accessories. For furniture, materials such wrought iron, metal or tile are the most durable and offer a modern aesthetic, but dark woods are acceptable if the design is sleek and the wood is treated to hold up outdoors. Patterns should keep with the same colors and designs to make the area feel spacious.

Warm colors make the space feel more inviting. Rather than the cool aloofness of the modern design styles, you may want a space that welcomes people to your home or to the rest of your outdoor living space. Warmer shades, such as reds, yellows, and orange are a great idea for this color palette, but use them in moderation when designing a lanai space that is small to avoid overwhelming the area. White is a good complement for any bright shade, and since it works wonders for making a small area feel bigger it is a good choice for the lanai.

Avoid large or bulky furniture on the lanai. Just like indoors, using furniture that is too large for the space will make it feel even smaller. Small scale, sophisticated pieces are best when your space is limited, no matter which design style you choose for this area. Loud patterns are also not the best choice when you want to make the lanai look larger, since they quickly overwhelm the space and make it seem oppressive. Use prints and patterns that feature small images or tight patterns and work within a limited color palette to keep things from getting visually busy.

Mirrors make the space feel bigger. Although there is limited wall space for hanging a mirror on the lanai, the wall that is adjoining with the house is an ideal location. If your lanai features a cooking and food service area, this is also a great area for wall mirrors, metal art and other outdoor wall décor. Mirrored accessories are a great choice for adding depth. Globes and outdoor themed artwork are available with a mirrored look, and these maximize the feeling of height and space even on the lanai. Candle sconces, for tables and for hanging, with mirrored or glass surfaces, are also great for reflecting light and provide a welcome atmosphere after dark. Larger focal points, such as a large metal wall cross or sun metal wall art, will create greater impact than small pieces.

This article is written by Edward Dickinson, who writes for


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