Not Your Average Umbrella: 5 Unexpected Ways to Use Umbrellas Outdoors

I, for one, love a good patio umbrella. You get to be outdoors, while basking in the shade or being sheltered from the rain — brilliant!. My deck is covered, so I don't need an umbrella, but that doesn't stop me from singing their praises. Apparently there are some creative folks out there who feel the same, and who have gone to great lengths to incorporate umbrellas into the outdoor experience in some innovative ways. 

Images 1 & 2: Why go for normal pendant lights when you can have umbrella pendant lights? The small black-and-white version pictured above adds a touch of charm and whimsy, while the white variation, implemented on a larger scale, makes for an ethereal, romantic setting. 

Image 3: Patterned textiles are a fun and colorful way to pay homage to the humble umbrella. On the left, you have umbrella-patterned napkins available from Gracious Style, which would enliven any picnic or al fresco dining experience, and on the right is an outdoor fabric from P. Kaufmann that could be made into pillows, tablecloths, bench pad covers, or any number of other outdoor items. 

Image 4: This parasol backdrop by A Subtle Revelry would be perfect for any outdoor photo shoot that you'd like to have this summer or as an affordable temporary decorative backdrop for a party. If you live in an area without much rain, it might even hold up long enough to serve as a lovely one-season-use decorative wall installation.

Image 5: If an umbrella is designed to protect you from the elements, why can't it also protect your food? This food umbrella will keep all pests away from your food until you're ready to eat it. It also comes in some fun colors.

Images 6-8: Drink umbrellas can be used for a number of outdoor crafts. Paper lanterns are a popular form of outdoor lighting, so why not spruce up a lantern with some colorful cocktail umbrellas? If you aren't interested in DIY, the version pictured above is available for purchase from Bright Lights Little City. Alternatively, make some decorative umbrella topiaries for a cute table centerpiece, or liven up your front door with a cocktail umbrella wreath

(Images: 1. Ashley Bee Photography via Joyful Joyful Designs, 2. BestCoolist, 3. Left: Gracious Style, Right: Fabric.com, 4. A Subtle Revelry, 5. Amazon, 6. Bright Lights Little City, 7. CraftStylish, 8. Family Chic from Camilla Fabbri)

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