How to be in when you’re out

Welwyn Wong
Welwyn says “Get a rug”

Off-gridders bent on eking out the last of the warm temperatures and living outdoors as much as possible have propelled demand for decorative outdoor rugs. Diehard Astro buffs can still get their retro fix. The biggest seller is made of 100-per-cent Olephin. And it’s now available in a range of shades of green.

Consumers’ refined sensibilities and tastes are forcing designers to get more creative and make outdoor rugs with an edge, says landscape designer Welwyn Wong.

“People are starting to wake up to the idea of outdoor rooms, and rugs help define these outdoor spaces, much the way they do indoors,” says the landscape designer, who steers clients toward hardwood and bamboo products that have been woven together to lie flat and are edged with a fabric border to hide the hard edges.


It’s important to pay attention to the backing, says Wong. “Consider how much moisture buildup there will be underneath, whether it’s on a wood deck, patio stones, grass or some sort of porous surface. The more porous the surface, the more the rug will deteriorate.”

Ditto for the surface it’s covering.

If you’re into green as a movement rather than a colour, Emma Craig suggests Mad Mats (patioandyard.com). Made of recycled products such as pop bottles and milk cartons, the Mad Mat is proving ideal for sprucing up outdoor rooms, the pool area, apartment balconies and the ground next to camping trailers.

“They’re amazing,” says designer Craig. “We had one in the front of the store for three years and, in spite of all the traffic, it’s still in great condition.”

Mad Mats cost $46 for the popular four-by-six-foot size and $96 for a five-by-eight rug. The rugs are made to be flipped over, showing off a slightly different pattern.

Unlike indoor carpets, which retain dirt in their fibres, Mad Mats repel dirt, are washable and quick-drying. That quick-dry feature means no mildew-related rot to the rug or the wood deck it’s covering.

If you want a greener option, Wong suggests the original green mat: grass.

“When you’re creating your outdoor living room, consider leaving a patch of grass in the middle of the patio.”

Nature’s carpet provides a naturally soft feel underfoot or under hoof, depending on your particular house guest.


The following will help you become a clued-in carpet consumer:

– Need no-skid outdoor rug (next to a pool, for example)? Look for a polymer backing.

– Avoid placing the rug in a sunlight-rich area, but if you can’t, look for rugs made of Olefin that’s UV-treated, and therefore more fade-resistant. “Outdoor fabrics are made to withstand a lot of the elements, so their dyes aren’t as unstable as the indoor fabrics,” says landscape designer Welwyn Wong. “What they mean is they’re not going to fade substantially. The darker colours are meant to get the solar exposure, so they’re more resistant to the sun.”

– Even outdoor rugs should be taken indoors for the winter.

– If it doesn’t say so on the tag, ask retailers if the rug you’re considering buying does indeed repel or resist stains, colour-fading, water and mould.

– Setting an indoor rug outdoors does not make it an outdoor rug.

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