June 27, 2012

Crank up the colour for outdoor spaces

Plants, cushions, bold accents among effective, inexpensive solutions for breathing new life into outdoor spaces


TORONTO — It’s a party spot, play area and private retreat rolled into one — all nestled within the cosy confines of home. And with the arrival of warmer weather, many will be inclined to spend time revelling in their outdoor oasis, adding incentive to spruce up their backyard, patio, porch or balcony for summer. But whether you’re entertaining, child-minding, curling up with a good read or settling in for a snooze, giving your exterior space a stylish seasonal makeover can be accomplished without busting your budget.

“There are the easy facelifts,” said Aaron Furfaro, co-owner of Toronto-based design company Free My Interior. “Say you have your big box store patio set and it has really neutral seat cushions on them and you don’t want to change them? You could make a few throw cushions — and you definitely don’t have to be a seamstress to do it.”

Outdoor fabric can also be used to craft an outdoor canopy in the form of a shade sail, noted Heidi Richter, stylist on the HGTV series Decked Out. “If you have some basic sewing skills, you can sew yourself a nice big either triangle or square,” she said. “If you already have a fence on both sides of your yard, it’s very easy to attach a shade sail to your fence to use as your braces.” It’s key to position the shade sail on a steep enough angle so that water will drip off the end rather than pool inside, she noted.

Cushions and shade sails aren’t the only way to crank up colour. Dishware and table linens are another alternative — particularly for those with fickle fashion tastes. “If you love blue this year, fantastic. If you decide a year from now you want to go for orange, it’s a very cost-effective way to switch up the entire look with something like the cutlery or the napkins or the toss pillows,” said Richter. Beverage dispensers, charcoal grills and lanterns are also available in colourful hues, she noted. If you don’t regularly flex your green thumb or want something more low-maintenance, Richter suggests settling on one choice of plant to add pop to your space. Filling a pot with petunias all in one colour offers a great, bold statement, she noted.

Furfaro said assembling a good room is much like piecing together an outfit, and styling your backyard or balcony should follow the same fundamental principles. Furfaro sometimes has clients take him to their closets to point out favourite articles of clothing to get a sense of their personal style. “It shouldn’t be about executing what you see in a magazine. It should just be about getting the perfect combination of the space itself — so your home and your style — and it should meet somewhere in the middle.”

He suggests if you have spots for indoor pieces in your outdoor space, consider bringing them into the mix — provided they will be protected. “Don’t break the bank to do it, but create a space that you love for those three or four months a year,” said Furfaro. “This can be your own private oasis.”

Canadian Press

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