Setting the Outdoor Mood
Once merely the realm of spas and vacation resorts, many luxurious outdoor sanctuaries are now being created right in our own backyards. Homeowners are spending more time, and money, at home and are looking to create unique spaces that reflect their personalities and give them room to relax, entertain and get away from it all.
The "outdoor room" gives homeowners a new look at an area of their home that is more relaxed than the interior, easier to accessorize and that can function as a living space, entertaining space, cooking space and gardening space. No other interior room can function in the same way. And just as homeowners' tastes for outdoor decorating accessories have changed, so has furniture manufacturers' with a new line of outdoor room sets.
"Folks are staying home more and are trying to create an entertaining space they can have fun with at home," says Gary McCray, vice president of marketing for Laneventure, one of the leaders in furnishings for the outdoor home space. "The outdoors is a fun area to decorate, and with the right accessories, such as a fireplace and lounging furniture, people can move beyond just grilling and the pool."
Hot Trends in Furnishings and Materials
Today's outdoor furniture and accessories are a far cry from the woven wicker pieces, cast iron and plastic webbed creations we have seen in the past. The market is ahead of the trend, and companies like Laneventure are leading the way with beautiful pieces that have the look and feel of indoor furniture, but in natural color tones and weather-resistant durability. Instead of chairs, tables and chaise lounges, furniture now comes in chairs, sofas, coffee tables, end tables and more. Popular trends are reflected in the wide selection of fabrics, materials and colors.
In addition, outdoor fabrics no longer have the feel of vinyl or plastic. Furniture designers understand that fabric is the most striking part of a piece of furniture, as well as the part with which the consumer comes in contact the most. Many have worked to create fabrics with a softer feel, yet with the same easy-to-clean durability.
Other new materials are quickly growing in popularity, with sleek and modern aluminum and natural, all-weather wicker leading the trend. Outdoor rugs also offer a unique way to highlight a space and are made from materials such as polypropolene to maintain color and longevity. Colors now offer more versatility than ever before, replacing too-bright tropicals and whites with earth tones that offer color in a polished and natural finish that blends with your surroundings.
Setting the mood
Make the most of your outdoor space's best assets. Outdoor furnishings should highlight your surroundings by framing a striking view, screening off a secluded corner, offering cool and fun refreshment by a pool or nestling in a quiet spot in a lush setting. "It's important to keep in mind your surroundings when setting up your outdoor room," says McCray. "You can easily create an intimate space with a wall or hedge or highlight an exciting, breathtaking view with the right furnishings. It all depends on how you want to use your space."
Setting up your own outdoor space is easy. Look at your interior and plan to bring some of your own style into the outdoors, but keep things simple and casual. If your home is modern, try aluminum furniture and solid fabric details for a clean look. If you like a more natural or elegant look, try wicker with floral fabrics. Select furniture that is comfortable for you and your lifestyle, whether it's strictly for lounging or for entertaining a large family.
Any space, from urban balcony to custom deck, sleek pool, country garden or tiny patio, can be transformed with a few inviting pieces. The key is to create an area where people will gather, just like in your living room or kitchen.
Choose pieces that are comfortable and accessorize with fabrics and materials that can withstand the elements. Don't forget simple decorating tricks, such as candles, throws, flowers and flowerpots, dining accessories and plush pillows that can be brought out to suit any occasion. According to McCray, getting started is easy. "Start simply with the basics, whether it be a simple table and chair set, and add on," he says. "You can capture the look of an outdoor room on any budget."
Photos courtesy of Laneventure.
- Open Air Living: Creative Ideas for Stylish Outdoor Living (Ryland Peters & Small, April 2001) by Enrica Stabile, Christopher Drake and Alice Berkeley
- The Outdoor Living Room (Crown Publishing, June 2001) by Martha Baker, Chuck Baker and Sara Evans
- Summer Style: Decorating Ideas & Projects for Outdoor Living (Lark Books, May 2003) by Paige Gilchrist