The best things in life don’t always come neatly pre-packaged. In fact, when it comes to your outdoor space, mixing and matching furniture is a great way to show off your personality. Besides, going out and buying an entire furniture collection for your patio isn’t always a realistic option. Whether it’s size restrictions or budgetary limitations, you may need to buy furniture piece-by-piece—which, as it turns out, is actually a really smart way to go about it.

While piecing together a patio set over time may sound fun to some, it can be intimidating if you’re new to the world of home design. But rest assured, follow our top tips for mixing and matching outdoor furniture and you’ll end up with a patio paradise for all to envy.

#1) Start with Layout & Functionality

First things first, roll out the rulers and measuring tape. All too often homeowners become fixated on a particular vision they had in mind (usually seen somewhere on the glossy pages of a magazine.) While that vision may be spectacular, it might not be the best one for the given space. Measure your outdoor space and consider what type of pieces will give your patio an inviting, open feel. For example, an outdoor sofa sectional looks grand, but it may be a little too grand if it ends up eating all your square footage.

Just as important as size, keep in mind that how you plan to utilize your space is essential to layout. If you want to dine al fresco throughout the week, an outdoor dining table is a must. If you plan on using the space to just kick back and relax, a hammock may be the piece to fulfill all your wishes.

#2) Stick to a Color Palette

The great thing about mixing pieces is that your decor doesn’t have to match perfectly. Just keep in mind that your final result will shine brightest if you stick to a cohesive color palette. Choose one or two colors as your base and complement them with coordinating colors that blend well together.

Our Ashley Insider, Greta Hollar, shows us how you can piece together a set with gorgeous grays (pup not included).

Style influencers Marcus + Kristin added a cool splash of color to their patio space by sticking with various shades of blue.

#3) Balance out Materials & Textures

Wood, aluminum or wicker? All these materials stand up to harsh outdoor elements, so you can’t go wrong with these choices. The one faux pas that is possible, is throwing too many materials into the mix. If you choose resin wicker chairs, a wood or aluminum table will look fine. What you want to avoid is a wicker chair, aluminum frame sofa and a natural wood table all grouped together. Just as how mixing too many colors can look sloppy or unplanned, mixing too many materials and textures can have the same effect.

See how our Ashley Insider @heathernicole_lewis successfully mixes a metallic gold metal end table and lights with resin wicker furniture.

#4) Make it Pretty & Plush

When you think of the outdoors, soft and sumptuous probably aren’t the first words that come to mind. Thanks to modern upgrades, time spent outdoors is far from roughing it. By adding just a few throw pillows to your seating, you’ve fulfilled the task of personalized style and cozy comfort all in one smooth swoop. And by adding an outdoor floor rug, your feet will be greeted by feel-good (and easy-to-care for) fabric instead of hard tile or concrete.

#5) Brighten Up Your Space

Outdoor spaces have the advantage of natural lighting…that is, until the sun goes down. Create a cozy mood by adding string lights, paper lanterns or a fire pit table to strike up conversation with friends.

Another way to brighten up your space, day or night, is by adding the fresh element of greenery. Plants are great for lifting your mood and keeping a space light and airy. Plus, certain plants have practical purposes to them too—like citronella that naturally repels mosquitoes.

Did our tips help—or do you have any to add? Either way, we’d love to see your final outdoor oasis. Make sure to snap a picture and share it with the hashtag #MyAshleyHome. You may just find your look featured on our page, inspiring others.