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Considerations When Designing Outdoors

by Joel Martens
Saturday Jul 19, 2014

Time to take it outside! Find an outdoor space, any space and make it lively and livable. Here are some guidelines to get you going.

OUT YOUR LIVING/DINING ROOM Go bold or go home. Nothing says summer like bright colors or bold patterns. If you are going to invest the time and money into creating an outdoor living space, make sure you have a little fun with it. If you are a bit more conservative, keep the brown or tan on the frames of your pieces; be they wood, rattan or, god forbid, plastic (recycled only please), but the cushions and pillows at least should have a "wow" factor. Even less adventurous? Then, do just the colorful throw pillows for that bit of jazz. The same rules apply to outdoor dining areas, eating should be fun!

MIX IT UP Not everything in life or on your patio has to be the newest, latest and greatest. Furniture "sets" are for the unadventurous. Take a risk and search out a couple great vintage pieces to break up the monotony, or better yet, find it, paint it and re-purpose it! Granny's old wicker can look amazing with an updated aqua tint. Go to your nearest junk
/consignment, pick up a piece and go to town. Who said that dining chairs have to match? Take a risk baby. Even if your vibe is on the mod side... mix it up a bit. Old can be mod with the aforementioned color!

KEEP IT SIMPLE AND BEGIN BIG Start with your space's largest piece, usually your rug or seating, be it a sec- tional or a set (I'm shuddering), or a dining table and chairs. Begin with one and build on that choice. The order should be: A rug or the seating (the first two are interchangeable), cushion covers, accent pillows, lighting and the plants. Then, finish up with your accents. Accents are the icing on the cake.

STRING IT UP Nothing says come hither and relax like a string of happy lights and the possibilities are endless. Commercial string lights are great for permanence, but there is really no limit to what you can do. I was on a budget one year and throwing a party, but wanted to make an impression. I went to a discount store, bought a string of white Christmas LED lights and a bunch of super cheap and colorful kids 10" balls, cut a tiny slit in them and poked the light through. VoilĂ , a string of fab colorful lanterns... along with many oohs and aahs. Sexy and cool doesn't have to be expensive.

MAKE IT UNBREAKABLE We're talking dining and drinking here. It's the place where you can go completely "cray-cray," because the choices are so much fun and truly endless. Everything you could possibly imagine is made unbreakable for your outdoor fun and the aforementioned rules apply. Take a risk and do not buy a set. Think of the top of your dining table as a room and keep it simple (see above), buy the rug first (tablecloth) then add the seating (large plates), choose bowls and small plates (assorted pil- lows), stemware of different sizes (the plants), the flatware and accessorize with serving pieces (accents). It's a room for your eyes to feast upon, your senses to languor and a place that should tantalize your guests.

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