For years, interior designers schooled their clients about the importance of bringing the outdoors in. But for the past decade or so, the new instructions are to move the indoors out, furnishing patios, decks and balconies as comfortably and artfully as interior spaces.
"Customers love creating 'rooms' that bring the style, comfort and ease of their indoor living and entertaining spaces into the outdoors," says Crate & Barrel spokeswoman Vicki Lang. "Items that can live outside or in, such as wall art, rugs, pillows, upholstered furniture and accessories, are extremely popular."
Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of public relations and marketing for the American Home Furnishings Alliance in High Point, N.C., says, "Putting a chaise lounge with an end table on a patio is no longer enough." Entire kitchens have moved outside, along with fire pits and even elaborate storage areas. Outdoor rooms can be made comfortably casual or sophisticatedly elegant. Hirschhaut says it's not at all unusual to see a table outside set with formal china and a silver candelabra.
When the weather warms, Frances Brayshaw, owner of Pear Tree Cottage in Vienna, Va., moves an antique wooden dining table out to her garden, unfazed by the fact that it chips and grows mossy. "I like the patina it develops from being out in the elements." She appoints the table with vintage silver and decorative ceramic plates, and creates mood lighting with candles and lanterns.
Thinking with her indoor hat, Brayshaw arranges her garden into areas for eating, cooking and lounging. She suggests adding an architectural element, such as a wood column, to bring a feeling of formality to an outdoor space. (Don't forget a citronella candle or mosquito repellent.)
Here are some new garden accents to furnish your own outdoor living or dining room.
Outdoor Spanish floral mirror
$495 at www.horchow.com
Brayshaw says hanging a mirror on an ivy-covered wall creates texture and depth in the garden and adds a dressy element to the mix. This hand-painted, distressed-finish mirror with tole metal flowers serves that purpose admirably. Keep in a covered area.
$675 at www.horchow.com
Pops of color in saturated hues such as tangerine and yellow are popular for garden accessories this year, says Crate & Barrel's Lang. Take this in an unexpected-for-the-outdoors baroque design.
Pillows from Trina Turk's indoor-outdoor fabric collection
$150-$155 at www.timothypaulbedding.com
Mia Worrell of Timothy Paul Bedding + Home says gray is the hot new neutral and works well with yellow this time of year.
Mini T outdoor fireplace
$1,395 at www.roomandboard.com
Room & Board's eco-friendly fireplace, constructed from brushed stainless steel, features a thick glass surround, making it feasible (and safe) to bring an open flame to any space. The ventless fireplace uses bioethanol, a renewable fuel that burns efficiently, keeping you warm without smoke or ashes.
3- by 5-foot indoor-outdoor rugs
$88 at www.redbarnmercantile.com
It's easy to get hooked on these polypropylene rugs from Dash & Albert. Scrubbable, bleachable and UV-treated for outdoor use, they just need to be hosed off to clean.
Wisteria Outdoor solar table lamp
$249 at www.frontgate.com
With all the graciousness of inside, Frontgate's solar lamp with six LED bulbs provides up to six hours of soft light on a full charge; AC adapter recharges bulbs on a sunless day. The Sunbrella fabric shade is impervious to inclement weather.