The best exterior design finds in three catalogs

FOR THOSE of us without the budget to buy high-end brands, so-called “catalog retailers” can be a godsend. But among the affordable finds offered by these stores’ websites and print catalogs, there may be a bit of purely generic design. Here at the Wall Street Journal, we’re here to help you make informed decisions, so we asked an interior designer Laura Hodges to comb through the selections of three major, trustworthy home furnishing brands. Ms. Hodges has applied her discerning, professional eye to picking out what she considers to be everyone’s chicest and most budget-friendly pieces when it comes to this season’s most pressing need: finds for our outdoor spaces. Here are his recommendations.

“I would not have initially sought to Ballard designs for exterior decorating because it leans more traditional than my typical style,” Ms Hodges said. However, the Baltimore designer converted when she spotted these washable, fade and stain resistant polyester rugs in a blown plaid on the website. She loves how the navy pattern is layered over ivory – “much easier to live with than white” – in the Bowman indoor-outdoor rug. The heather beige base helps hide iced tea spills, and when the mat is reversed, it becomes the contrasting color against a navy blue field. “I would probably return it every year,” she said. Bowman Performance Mats, from $129, ballarddesigns.com