Outdoor rug ideas – 10 easy ways to revamp your outdoor space

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  • Excited about the arrival of warmer weather and the new outdoor season? How about a new outdoor rug idea to freshen up your garden? Just as you unroll a new look indoors, there are some great designs that can transform outside too. From large patio-covering designs to smaller rugs that are great for layering, outdoor rugs are certainly cheaper and less effort that replacing your patio or deck. A rug can also help create with your garden ideas as it can section off a large space into a smaller zone.

    An outdoor rug idea can transform your outdoor space in a flash – and you can apply the same design principles to choosing and arranging as you would inside. ‘I love the look an outdoor rug gives a garden,’ says Pip Probert, founder of Outer Spaces and designer on BBC2’s Your Garden Made Perfect. ‘They can give your garden such a lived-in feel.’

    Outdoor rug ideas

    Look for natural textures – perfect for semi-covered areas or cottage garden ideas, while ones made from recycled materials are great for your garden’s eco credentials. Apply the same design principles as indoors – a striped rug can make a narrow patio look wider if you lay with the stripes horizontally, while you can lead the eye down to another area with the stripes running away from you (vertically). Likewise, you can use a rug to pull different elements of your garden together, such as boosting the colours found in your planting.

    ‘If you’ve little ones, then outdoor rugs are so handy,’ says Victoria Wade, founder and landscape architect. ‘Our toddler-age daughter loves to sit on them on the patio.’ Tasha Green, Director at Weaver Green; ‘An outdoor rug should be water resistant, UV stable, resistant to mould, and easy to clean.’

    For some inspiration, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best outdoor rug ideas.

    1. An outdoor rug can be practical too

    Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason

    A garden rug isn’t just for decoration – if you’ve got French windows or sliding doors leading out onto your patio, then a runner or rug will help trap some of the dirt from people constantly going in and out.

    Choose a design that’s inspired by Mediterranean tiles in classic white and navy, which can be echoed in your choice of the best outdoor cushions, lending a lovely summery feel to your patio.

    2. Try a tiled rug

    Corner patio with black and white geo tiled wall and matching tiles on the floor. Modern corner sofa and potted tree

    Image credit: Baked Tile Co

    Why not use patterned tiles to create a more permanent outdoor rug idea? Lay out your pattern first, arranging your garden furniture around a square -or rectangle-shaped patterned tiled section. This will make a much more durable ‘rug’ – you’re adding colour and pattern to the floor through tiles.

    Look at rugs for inspiration for your tiled version – either go for something symmetrical or random. You could even add a border of mosaics or plain tiles to really draw attention to your unusual outdoor rug. Choose anti-slip tiles, making the area suitable for use whatever the weather.

    Buy now: Nostalgia anti-slip diagonal tiles, £43.47 per sq m, The Baked Tile Co

    3. Use an outdoor rug to bring in an accent

    Black composite decking with modern black wicker sofa and coffee table on a bright yellow outdoor rug

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Just as a rug can bring that colour pop to a living space, so can one transform a neutral deck. Go for a warm yellow, which boosts the natural lush green foliage of your garden. Add a few co-ordinating cushions, planters and a throw and your garden will feel as if it’s had a mini makeover. Grey and yellow always work well together – but it might not be a combination you might choose indoors. Try more of an ochre than sunny yellow, which will be less punchy and more liveable for a great boho garden idea. While picking a rug design with lots of white in will also help.

    4. Layer up for interest

    Corner outdoor sofa on a patio with black fencing behind and layered rugs under the contemporary coffee table

    Image credit: Danetti

    If you are looking for a garden rug idea that looks sophisticated, try layering up two neutral-coloured designs, lending a boutique-hotel garden vibe. It’s a great way to expand your outdoor living space beyond the natural size of your corner sofa when thinking about how to choose outdoor furniture.

    Use double-sided carpet tape to secure the edges, preventing them from curling up. Just make sure surfaces are completely dry before using and avoid using tape on any painted or stained decking.

    Buy now: Danetti garden rugs, £149 each, Danetti

    5. Start your scheme with a rug

    Scandi style outdoor decking area with white painted walls, potted tree and neutral accessories including a large outdoor rug

    Image credit: Weaver Green

    A rug can really anchor that outdoor look, providing colour, pattern and texture, and turning a porch or deck into a useable outdoor space. Look for a design inspired by Morocco, which you can build your styling story around, adding a pouffe, wicker chair and even outdoor wall decor ideas. The soothing palette of washed shades will make you feel instantly relaxed when you nip outside for a moment of solitude first thing in the morning. A soft rug underfoot will mean you won’t even need to pop shoes on!

    Think about shape – a wide runner will lead the eye to your door, making a visual welcoming first impression for guests. Some runners can be up to 4.5m in length – perfect if you have a big porch.

    Buy now: Kasbah Smoke rug, from £138, Weaver Green 

    6. Move a rug around your garden

    Hammock in the trees at the edge of a lawn with lots of cushions, and a rug underneath

    Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day

    Keep a few outdoor rugs rolled up, ready for when you want to create a sunny corner on your lawn idea – imagine getting up from a snooze in this hammock and sinking your toes into a super-soft rug? Use a pouffe or planter to weight down your rug at either side – you don’t want to be chasing it across the garden if the breeze picks up.

    Choose a palette inspired by a cottage garden, mixing delphinium blues, lavenders and dusky pinks with natural textures.

    7. Play with texture with an outdoor rug

    Raised deck by a river with wooden railings and a smart tiki bar with two bar stools

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    A garden rug gives you chance to mix in a new texture – perhaps you need a touch of natural jute or a softer weave? Perhaps your decking idea is well… too woody? An outdoor rug is an inexpensive way to change the feel of your space, adding depth through a new texture.

    Need extra seating at your tiki bar? Why not encourage guests to sit on the floor with a soft rug and a few floor cushions?

    8. Work a Scandi vibe

    Sofa with cream and brown cushions, coffee table, olive tree in a basket on a wooden verandah deck outside a white wood clad house.

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Be inspired by a Scandi summer house and create an outdoor living area that works from dawn to dusk. Teamed with pared-back garden furniture ideas, a cosy jute outdoor rug underfoot provides a great base of texture, from which you can build upwards, adding baskets, vases, cushions and throws to enhance the relaxed look.

    Jute is a great all-natural rug material, although it doesn’t do so well in very humid climates. Ideally use on a semi-covered porch or patio, and if it does suffer a soaking, then place in the sunshine to dry.

    9. Go reversible

    Outdoor egg chair on a deck with fence and hedging behind. Lime green rug on the wooden decking

    Image credit: B&Q

    Get two looks for the price of one with a reversible garden rug. Or why not buy two and use to zone spaces of your garden layout idea, flipping the design in one? This will help the zones flow but still be different. When it comes to size of rug, a 230 x 160cm size one should be big enough for a two-seater sofa corner – try to place the legs of the sofa on the rug, this helps to ‘ground’ it.

    Buy now: GoodHome Malaita Jungle reversible rug, £30, B&Q 

    10. Think about shape

    Covered deck with neutral hammock and a circular jug rug and atmospheric festoon lighting

    Image credit: Beaumonde

    Not all garden rugs need to be square or rectangular. Play with shape and add interest to a covered deck idea with a round design. Jute is a great material for creating a rustic-style space, which can be boosted with lots of baskets and wicker planters.

    Need a quick fix for a garden event? There’s nothing stopping you bringing an indoor rug outside for the event, before brushing off and taking back inside afterwards.

    How do I look after an outdoor rug?

    Water resistant outdoor rugs can be left outside all summer long, however if yours gets wet, then hang over a line to dry. ‘We would suggest not leaving one of our rugs out on the grass or floor for prolonged wet periods,’ says Tasha Green, Director at Weaver Green. ‘Bring it in to wash/dry and store until the weather improves and you can pop it back out again.’

    When choosing a rug, Tasha says to look for one that is UV stable, so the colours will hold for longer. ‘If your rug is placed under an item of furniture – say a coffee table – then do rotate occasionally so it has even sun exposure across the whole rug where possible.’

    Size, pattern, colour… any tips or trends?

    ‘As long as the rug is UV stable (ie it’s been treated with a stabliser to protect it from long-term degradation from UV light), then you can choose any colour or pattern,’ says Tasha. ‘If not, then avoid bright colours as these will fade over time when exposed to the sun.’ When it comes to size, there’s so much choice – even a balcony garden idea can benefit from a runner underfoot. Just like choosing a rug indoors, make sure that your furniture is in contact with the rug and that there’s space to pull out chairs from an outdoor dining table keeping chair feet on the rug.

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