Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Great Outdoors

As the weather gets warmer and days grow longer, I look forward to finally using the other room in my home -my outdoor room. Porches, decks and patios extend and enhance our indoor living spaces and our lives.

What’s needed to create a perfect outdoor atmosphere? Simply use the same things that you use indoors like comfortable seating, a table or two to set down a drink or a good book, and some well chosen accessories. Spruce up your outdoor living spaces this summer and entertain or relax in style.

Overhead structures such as gazebos and pergolas provide just enough coverage from the elements and add character to ordinary decks. Lattice walls can help mask a bad view as well as provide privacy. A trellis or arbor supports hardy climbers and defines spaces. Deep porches beckon you and your guests to linger a little longer. Take advantage of a fenced-in corner of your yard and claim it as a cozy nook - intimate and inviting when you place an old iron daybed or wooden glider there for quiet conversations or tea.

Today’s outdoor furnishings are so lovely that most people often use them indoors as well. Furniture cast-offs are great for outdoor use too. A few scuffs and dents add to the charm. Don’t be afraid to use plump pillows and fabrics outdoors. Simply cover seat cushions with water-resistant fabrics or take them in at night. Fabric remnants can be used as tablecloths. No need to sew up the edges, just tuck ends under and let them puddle on the ground. Lightweight cotton throws and bedsheets can be used as well, and large dishtowels make great napkins.

Accessorize with garden statuary and antique gardening tools. Hang lanterns from fence walls and use lots of hurricanes for candles. Pot plants, herbs and flowers and place them on steps, on tables and in corners. Old shutters hinged together, make a great screen - perfect for adding vertical interest as well as an added surface for climbing plants.

Mix up the formal with the informal when entertaining, whether you’re having tea in the garden, hosting a neighborhood barbecue, or planning a quiet moonlit supper for two. Hang an iron chandelier from a pergola and dress it up with crystal drops. No need to use plastic plates and cups, use the real thing. Mix-matched china with floral patterns looks especially lovely. Dress your table with low sitting flower arrangements so they won’t blow over and string white lights through trees and along banisters for extra sparkle.

The best thing about outdoor rooms is that there’s no need to re-decorate – nature will take care of that for you.

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