If you live in a part of the world that has all four seasons, and happen to have a bit of outdoor space, then you likely wait with deep anticipation for that glorious moment in spring when the weather breaks and you can finally dust of the patio furniture and enjoy a few meals al fresco. Or if you live in an area with great weather year round, like Los Angeles, you still enjoy your outdoor space just not in the covetous way those in more inclement climates do.
Either way, creating the right aesthetic in your space out of doors is paramount to an enjoyable experience. Choosing the right furniture, potted plants and lighting are all key elements that can round out a good outdoor setting. One often overlooked item that can really anchor a good patio or porch, however, is an outdoor rug. Made of more rugged fibers that can withstand the elements such as sisal, nylon or bamboo, they come in a range of colors and options that are almost as diverse as interior rugs. Whatever style space you’re curating to spend time outside, you’ll certainly be able to find an outdoor rug to match.
One reason many people often forgo outdoor textiles is the fear that they’ll quickly become dirty beyond recognition or simply deteriorate altogether. This can indeed happen, but it is not inevitable. Like anything else in the home, with a little care and maintenance an outdoor rug can last quite a few seasons, even a lifetime in the case of especially tough fibers like nylon with the right treatment. Detailed below are a few simple steps that can be taken to prolong the lifespan of your all weather textiles.
Probably the simplest step to caring for an outdoor rug: proper storage at the proper time of year is easily done, but if overlooked can take a heavy toll if you live in a place with a proper frozen, snowy winter. If such is the case, as soon as you’re done dining and lounging outside for the year, consider the rug done as well. Give it one last good cleaning, making sure it’s thoroughly dry (preferably by hanging in the sun), roll it up and store it for the inclement season indoors. Never fold a rug.
One could say there are various levels of cleaning; regular maintenance, and advanced. Most outdoor rugs can simply be hosed down periodically-just be sure to read the tag and make sure such a procedure is OK. Between the hosing, vacuuming and sweeping, this will take care of the regular weekly or monthly maintenance. Hanging rugs to dry in the sun after being sprayed down is important as well, as this will keep mold and mildew-two of an outdoor rugs mightiest foes at bay. The next, more advanced, level of cleaning is called for when stains appear or just before storing at the end of the season. There are many ways to go about this, but if possible I always like to go the nontoxic route. Fortunately there is a very effective natural recipe of eco-friendly dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar that takes care of the hardiest stains yet is easy on the hands and the environment. First vacuum or sweep the rug, then spot clean any stains with the dish soap and water, scrubbing lightly. Then sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the dirtiest areas and spray some vinegar, scrubbing the spot again. Finally hose the rug down (if the material allows), and hang up to dry in the blazing sun.
Outdoor Rug Alternative Uses
For those still on the fence about picking up an outdoor rug; especially if you’ll only be able to use it part of the year, consider some of their other uses. Once the season is over, instead of storing it away in a forgotten corner of the attic, lay it out in an area of the house that receives higher traffic. The all-weather material can hold up under more treading than the natural wool of your handmade Moroccan kilim. Additionally, if you’re planning on entertaining and don’t want said kilim to get trampled (or worse, doused with Cote du Rhone), roll up the delicate indoor rug for the evening and replace it with the more rugged outdoor textile. Again, the design options for outdoor rugs today are so varied that a well-chosen piece can blend seamlessly with your home, indoors or out.
Whatever your space, wherever you live, an outdoor rug can be a great addition; adding a bit of domesticity and pulling a design together. Look around, don’t forget to consider details like sizing-making sure whatever you get will be large enough to cover your table base, for example-and make a statement; get something that is you.The range of options these days allows for this, however bold or minimal your style may be.