It's time to get out into the great outdoors, and the best place to start is in your own back yard. With the weather beckoning us to come out and play, we should make our play area feel comfortable, relaxing and enjoyable.
Start by filling the back yard, patio or pool area with furniture and decorations you love. Do you like wind chimes? Find the perfect chimes and hang them where you can see as well as hear them. Do you like the idea of tiki torches? Place them strategically around your yard to create an exotic, jungle atmosphere. Do you love a grand and formal look? Some designers suggest extending your interior decor to the exterior by placing outdoor furnishings that resemble indoor furnishings. To be even more indoorsy, hang a chandelier out there if there is an available ceiling or overhang.
Candles always make a space feel inviting, romantic and cozy. Outdoor lanterns, garden torches and even floating candles for those who have a pool are great outdoor accessories. Citronella candles serve a double purpose by keeping bugs away. A cluster of candles on a table always looks classy.
Do you prefer a festive look? Consider Christmas lights as permanent outdoor decorations. They can be wrapped around tree trunks or porch railings. Between the candles and the Christmas lights, your outdoor space should have enough lighting to create a mood of relaxation as well as festivity.
Do you have room for a hammock? There's nothing like lying in a hammock in your own back yard to feel at one with nature.
In order to enjoy all the effort you've put into decorating your outdoor space, you will probably welcome some privacy. Create visual barriers with a wooden trellis, then plant some climbing flowers or vines. Planting hedges is another great idea, though you need to be patient while they grow. Be sure you know where your property line is.
While planning your outdoor decor, don't forget that it is really an extension of the indoors. Keep the theme similar and the colors flowing. With the many outdoor-furniture stores and catalogs available, you will certainly find the furnishings you need. Color can be introduced easily with painted pots, throw pillows, flowers and umbrellas.
So, soak in the sun and enjoy your extended home all spring and summer long.
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, is author of "Mystery of Color."