How to Perfect Your Patio This Season

Stylist Jenna Mickle, founder of Company and Cheer, suggests breaking outdoor space into “focused, intimate areas,” much as you would indoors.

Photo courtesy of Jenna Mickle

“Design can do a lot to create a vibe in the space,” says Jenna Mickle, a stylist and event coordinator. Over the last year, she has worked with many clients to transform big indoor events like birthday celebrations and showers into smaller outdoor gatherings perfect for home patios. Here she shares some tips and tricks for setting up an enviable outdoor space that you’ll want to entertain in, or just relax in, all summer long.

Bring the indoors out

Consider the stylistic choices you’ve made inside your home. There’s a reason you were drawn to those boho-chic tasseled throw pillows or that streamlined sofa. “Continuing a similar aesthetic and color palette through to the outdoors helps make the patio space feel like an extension of your living space,” says Mickle. She also encourages clients to mix large and small prints within the same color family to add extra dimension to their spaces.

Create conversation spaces

“Breaking the outdoor space into focused, intimate areas is a great way to keep guests engaged,” says Mickle. You can do that by clustering a couple of chairs around a shared side table with drinks or food, or by creating a designated space for lawn games.




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Prioritize utility, without sacrificing affordability

“We have all chosen looks over comfort or durability at some point in our lives, but considering this is a long-term investment, that is not the way to go,” Mickle says. For quality at a good price, consider shopping for second-hand pieces. “Yard sales or resale shops are a great place to score items that can be given a new life with a light sanding and a fresh coat of stain or paint.”

Consider expanding your entertainment options

You already know you need seating for your guests, and a grill to smoke up those brats. But you don’t need to stop there. “Include a bar cart to create refreshing summer beverages, a wood-fired oven to cook family meals, or a projector to show old movies to maximize the time you spend enjoying your patio,” says Mickle.

Factor in the weather

Outdoor area rugs crafted from polypropylene, plus pillows or cushions made from durable fabrics, better withstand rain, harsh sunlight and high winds. “Treat your furniture to increase its lifespan. Protecting the materials from water and UV rays will keep it looking fresh,” says Mickle, who likes Pottery Barn’s outdoor furniture cleaner and protectant. “I would suggest spraying all of your outdoor furniture. It creates more of a seal.”


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s June issue.

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A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine),, and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.