May 22, 2014

Patio living

There is a wealth of choice to help turn outdoor space into an extension of the home.


Summertime, and the outdoor living is peachy: The patio has so long been morphing into another room in our home that, heck, its décor looks as good adorning the inside as it does on the outside. And the panoply of patio goodies available this season looks set to make this segue even more seamless than before.

Of course the key is to make lounging outside as utterly irresistible as possible – cue plenty of homeowners setting the patio stage by unfurling outdoor rugs and hanging up curtains and mirrors to ensure things are snug and cosy (not that we think this necessarily always makes sense here on the Wet Coast). Then there are myriad homeowners renovating hard-to-replace exterior walls with folding doors to allow for ingenious inside/outside scenarios.

“An outdoor area should feel like a natural extension of your home,” explains Pottery Barn’s Kendra Stewart. “So it’s important to add comfortable and decorative elements to make it as inviting as an indoor space.”

Outdoor dining sets in teak, wicker and pine, steel and aluminum, come in all colours and styles

Which translates, in her opinion, into indoor/outdoor throw pillows, for example, melamine dinnerware and glassware that riff on whimsical sea-life designs, and lanterns and outdoor string lights to “serve as stylish decorative accessories during the day, and will add a warm glow to create beautiful ambient light at night.” Then there are all the other, frequently weatherproof, accoutrements – from umbrellas and plant pots to wind and sun-shields (also useful to get away from any overlooking neighbours).

Over at Moe’s Home Collection, Michelle Shantz, one of the store’s home stylists, agrees with adding in such hits as playful toss cushions (“colour,” she stresses, “is a must”). She also suggests deciding which dining set works for you first and labels that as a jumping-off point when you’re beginning to style your outdoor space. “Start with versatile outdoor dining furniture,” she says, referencing her company’s modern, clean-lined and varied Daytona sets, “then add a little personality.” Such as a little wall décor, Shantz adds. (For a perfect example, check out Moe’s cheeky and definitely playful hits such as a polyresin bull and elephant head.)

Not that it’s going to be effortless to find just the right dining sets given how expansive the range is this summer. From teak, wicker or painted white solid pine to galvanized steel, steel wire or aluminum, they come in all materials, colours and styles – whether you’re in the mood for clean-lined, über-modern minimalism or old-fashioned, sink-down, I’m-never-getting-up comfort. And the shape, of course, is varied in circles, square or rectangular whether it’s a bistro set for two, or bench-style seating and a table laid for a feast for all the extended family – and their friends.

In terms of the good hues for the season, the palette is equally impressive. Pops of colour always go down well – you only need to see the catwalks for inspiration – as well as the outdoor favourite of stripes and patterns. Pottery Barn suggests these all come with a layering of neutral colours such as light tan and cream. The bar – outdoor and indoor – and its accompanying furniture has ramped up its presence in the home scene in recent years, too. Pottery Barn sees it as a complete focal point. “Select bar-height stools to create a relaxed seating arrangement so guests can sit at the centre of the action,” Stewart says. “Backless bar-stool options are great for outdoor patio areas because they can easily be tucked away when not in use.”

Whatever dining set or the certain look you plump for, don’t forget that storage is also essential. To accommodate all that sunscreen we’re going to need and all that outdoor cutlery and crockery for our entertaining, think about all-weather baskets, chairs or tables with storage incorporated – or even a whole outdoor cabinet. And remember, as we all know and as Shantz helpfully points out, “Summer is just around the corner.”

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