Pick dishes with modern pop: With tableware, look for clean, fresh designs, says LaValle. Velocity Art & Design (251 Yale Ave. N.; 206/749-9575) has a great collection of acrylic dishes. You can’t go wrong with Thomas Paul’s indestructible plates; the playfully mod designs add a fun quirkiness to the table. “I also adore the Modern-Twist and Chilewich patterned placemats,” she adds.
Use whimsical accessories: While devotees of Lucca Statuary were disappointed when its large garden store closed earlier this year, the back patio of its sister shop, Lucca Great Finds (5332 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206/782-7337), has preserved a small selection of stone sculptures. Among the shop’s fountains and benches are whimsical accents, like bird cages and lanterns, to gussy up your garden.
Always nod to the past: Incorporating vintage pieces, like mismatched china and antique silverware, is essential. Look for fantastic little finds that let your personality shine through. The rows and rows of merchants at Pacific Galleries Antique Mall (241 S. Lander St.; 206/292-3999) are great for treasure hunting. At stall 382, dig through bins of silverware for $3 apiece; LaValle sets the table with garden pots filled with a hodgepodge of knives, forks, and spoons.
Brighten the palette: LaValle typically prefers locally owned shops, but she admits she loves the linens and little glasses at Anthropologie. The University Village store (2520 N.E. University Village St.; 206/985-2101) is especially good for tablecloths, napkins, and juice glasses painted in coral and blue—perfect for bringing a rich palette outside.
Cluster pots for an easy centerpiece: The fun pots and tropical plants at the Palm Room (closed Mon–Wed; 5336 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206/782-7256) are must-haves. LaValle likes to group a few containers in different sizes together for a quick floral centerpiece. You can use them in the garden later.
Add a punch of color with patio furniture: No matter what your style, LaValle says brightly colored patio furniture is best. Retrofit (store is moving; call 206/568-4663 for address) has bistro tables and loungers in all sorts of fun hues, but if you don’t see your favorite, the shop will special order. (Find cool pendant-style, solar-powered lanterns, too, that glow after dark.)