Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Outdoor Living

I've gotten some great feedback from those who checked out the blog.  I appreciate that.  One consistent question was, "what do you want to accomplish with the blog"? Well, certainly I want to share new or interesting products I find, design challenges I've encountered with my clients and how I resolved them, techniques I've discovered or maybe revisited.... really just about anything that I think might interest anyone interested in design.  I hope to impart my knowledge and experience to those who might be looking for guidance, and of course, drum up new work and clients on top of it all.

Some of my critics (and I use the term in the kindest way) suggested I not address the economy/lack of work issue. Actually, I don't agree.  We all know what the economy looks like right now, we all know people who've been laid off or who are simply scaling back in sympathy to the situation.  One of the first things off of people's wish lists when it comes to frugality is decorating - buying the new family room furniture, finally embarking on the kitchen remodel, getting the house repainted.  The furniture industry has been hit hard.  Very hard, but that doesn't mean we all crawl into a hole.  I'd like to keep that in consideration as I look around me finding new or forgotten ways to keep moving forward, whether actually or just psychologically.

That being said, I'd like to devote this post to how we can refresh what already exists, minimalistically or dramatically.  Today I want to talk about accessorizing the patio, porch or deck.  

I just spent the weekend at the garden stores - Home Depot and Lowe's to start in an effort to avoid the potentially more pricey smaller garden centers, but those too in the end to find the more obscure plants.  I had purchased several really grand (big, that is) pots last Spring but never even got around to planting them because they were a little intimidating for me, truth be told.  But this year, having spent a few days with my sister in Miami, who is utterly devoted to her veritable tropical rain forest of a garden, I was inspired to put those pots to work to really brighten my monochromatic back patio.

My favorite pots come from a vendor called Emissary, who's pots come from Vietnam.  Their glazes are gorgeous, and they have a great variety of sizes, styles and shapes, especially extra large ones which are my particular preference.  I abhor matched sets of anything so I always mix things up - I have seven medium and large pots on the patio, not one of which is alike, but the eclectic mix is very satisfying... tall, short, narrow, wide, blue, green, red, yellow... you name it.  I've clustered groups on either side of my curvilinear stone (pavers) patio so that there is interest from every angle - yard, house, and neighbors.  I also keep a plant on the patio table, and I use as a plant stand a great iron stand which used to be a bird bath before my cat decided to attack the wildlife using it, thereby tipping the bath and shattering it.... no worries, it holds a hanging plant basket perfectly!

There are lots of fun places to find decorative accessories for the patio.  Anthropologie is one - they have what I think are some of the best outdoor mats.  I don't know if you can see the one in this photo, but it's bright and happy and an excellent accent for a potentially drab outdoor living space.

One of my all time favorite catalogues in Wisteria - it has a super collection of all kinds of things, from furniture to funky accessories from all over the world, to outdoor furniture.  I bought my patio set from them - woven vinyl that is infinitely better than natural because it doesn't fade or crack or even noticeably age.  Just don't put hot pots on it because it definitely melts.  I don't believe the set pictured is available any longer, but there are numerous resources to find similar products including Target and Costco!  If you have the space on your deck or patio, I highly recommend considering including living space as well as eating space - chaise longue's, settees, chairs.... these go a long way towards inviting people out of doors.

Lighting is also a critical component of a lovely outdoor space.  Torches that surround the area, wall mounted candelabras, flood lights directed out to the yard and decorative wall mounted lighting are all great ways to create ambiance outside.  Fire pits are also very popular now - if you have a lot of room they're a great way to draw people out into the yard. 

No matter what climate in which you live there is always opportunity to bring life outside - you just have to make it inviting!  Share with us the solutions you've put to work for your home... I'd love to hear from you.  Up next - don't overlook IKEA for high style design solutions!


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