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Mediterranean Panache

Are you looking for an impressive outdoor living area? Want a fountain but don't have the money? Why not try this great look. You can go all out and buy new furniture, or you can revitalize your old chairs with a fresh coat of vibrant Mediterranean blue paint.

For the patio base, lay outdoor terra-cotta tiles. For added interest, intersperse cobalt blue tiles. To get the look of a fountain, build a brick square (or cinderblock to cut the cost) and cover with your terra-cotta tiles using cobalt blue tile accents. For the inside of the "fountain" lay out a pattern of blue and white tiles for the look of a crystal clear pool. You can be as intricate and creative as you like depending on your tile laying skills. Use a concrete planter stand and top with a lush plant in a terra-cotta planter.

For added comfort and texture, add some bright throw pillowsthrow pillows to your seating and be sure to set out candles for a romantic feel. Don't be afraid to keep accent tables outside to give guests a place to set their drinks or plates or to decorate with plants and candles. Gardeners.com offers a wonderful variety of garden and patio accessories.

For the greenery, if you have the space, why not add some dwarf trees for shade and color as well as lower bushes like boxwoods for separation and privacy. With a cool shaded space, decorate your flowerbeds with hostas and ferns which are shade loving, lush plants, even better, they're low maintenance.

Treat your outdoor patio as an indoor space. Keep in mind your interior basics like color and comfort and carry them outdoors. Make it your space, a special retreat.