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Relax and take a seat outside

Ready to kick back on some stylish and comfortable -- outdoor furniture this season? Here are three trends to watch for:

Classic indoor furniture styles moving outdoors -- from Arts and Crafts to French Provencal influences.

"This spring, as homeowners are expanding their everyday living space to include porches, decks and patios, they can also extend their favorite indoor furniture styling to those exterior spaces," said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance, in a recent trends report.

This trend includes more modern designs with boxy frames, plenty of 90-degree angles and versatile modular pieces that can be arranged in one seating configuration or two or three smaller ones.

Shades of brown and gray. These are two popular neutrals in outdoor furnishings, with pops of color reserved for accent pillows and other accessories.

"Gray, in fact, is the dominant neutral for 2012. It is paired with plum, orange or red in more daring displays, but also frequently coupled with soft shades of yellow or a mix of earthy tones," the AHFA reported.

Outdoor rugs have moved beyond plain sisal to bright novelty patterns in fashion-forward colors. Keeping the furniture neutral helps show off what the AHFA calls "the season's most colorful new accessory."

-- Susan Martin