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Spring is only two months away, which means this is the perfect time of year to start thinking about updating outdoor décor (and to start looking for some good deals). But when it comes to picking outdoor furniture, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are five tips that can ensure you have a stylish and comfortable patio or yard area:

Prioritize Function

When choosing furniture, put function first. That means choosing the kinds of furniture that you’ll use often and grouping it in areas where you like to hang out or entertain. For most homeowners, that will include both a sofa set and a dining set. But you don’t have to stick to these classics. About 78% of people who own a grill or smoker in the U.S. say that it’s an “extremely important” or “pretty important” part of their entertaining routine, for example, so you might consider a seating area near a propane grill (taking into account fire safety measures, of course), so that the grill master can still participate in socializing.

Know Materials Matter

There’s quite a bit of surprisingly attractive and affordable lawn furniture available on the market. Before you jump at these good deals, however, make sure they’re backed up by sturdy construction and quality materials. You can also think about the environmental impact of the outdoor furniture you’re using; wicker, for example — made by weaving strips of rattan, willow, bamboo, reeds or synthetic fibers — is often made with renewably sourced material. Wicker made with synthetics should be marked as “resin wicker.”

Factor In Storage

When you’re picking outdoor furniture, one of the most important things you’ll need to take into account is your storage space and how willing you are to move furniture in and out of it. If you have a clean shed nearby, then gathering up some white cushions at the end of the night and putting them inside might not be a big deal. But moving an entire patio furniture set inside because it’s too fragile to be left in the rain probably isn’t realistic.

Think Dual Purpose

Especially in small spaces, deck furniture that has more than one function is a smart (and fashionable) option. Consider an outdoor fireplace that has a wide enough hearth to set down drinks, or an ottoman that can serve both as a table and as a footrest.

Consider Continuity

If your outdoor space is connected to indoor living space by a sliding door (or visible through several large windows), it’s a good idea to keep a sense of continuity and consistency between them. That doesn’t mean the two spaces should match, but you might not want to completely switch themes. A good rule of thumb is to pick out a few elements from the indoor space — a color scheme, theme or distinctive design element — and then use punched-up versions of them in the outdoor space, since outside areas can handle a little more brightness and kitsch.

Do you have any tips for furnishing outdoor spaces? Share your thoughts in the comments.