As summer sun, scents from the garden and warm evenings beckon one and all to the outdoors, plan to set a scene for relaxing, entertaining and just hanging out. The hottest home trend is to create comfortable outdoor living spaces that blur the lines between indoors and out. So now’s the time to furnish a deck, patio or porch. Then gather around a sizzling grill, refreshing pool or relaxing garden setting.
Depending on the simplicity of design, an outdoor room can be easy and inexpensive to pull together. Make a statement by bringing together a variety of elements that mesh well, much as you would plan an indoor room. Trees, hedges and fences provide structure as walls and passageways. Patios, pavers and grass stand in for flooring. Potted plants and flowers become focal points, much like pieces of art, and with varying scale, they transition between trees, shrubs, grass and gardens. For maintenance, outdoor furniture is more comfortable yet sturdier than ever. Easy-care weatherproof materials look fresh all summer and last for years.
At the heart of outdoor living, dining alfresco requires a comfortable table and chairs. A glass-top table is durable, easy to keep clean and can double as an arts-and-crafts center for kids. Marble-top and tile-top tables are attractive choices. Choose a table height, from counter height for dining to bar height for serving drinks.
Give chairs a test-sit before hauling them home. Comfort is essential; then consider fabrics, chair seat height, maintenance and storage. Traditional-height chairs can be called into use away from the table and around a fire pit or conversation area.
Umbrellas, so important to shield diners from the sun and sudden sprinkles, also provide a feeling of intimacy. Lights strung around the rim or ribs of an umbrella can light the setting for evenings under the stars. Available in sizes and colors to complement table size and setting, umbrellas can be festive or subdued. In addition to table use, freestanding umbrellas can also anchor seating areas.
Define outdoor areas to use for dining and socializing, relaxing and exercising. Patios and pools have built-in boundaries to plan around. If permanent elements don’t exist, create definition with large containers, furniture arrangement, trellises and plants. Stage them to form walls and walkways that make a space feel like a room.
With the outdoor room in place, turn your attention to creating focal points or invitations to the room. A bench or table with chairs under a shade tree, for example, beckons relaxation and reflection. Appeal to all senses and inspire browsing, inspection and connecting to nature by placement of fragrant flower blooms in soft to vibrant colors, water features, intriguing foliage and garden ornaments. Find all you need for a welcoming outdoor retreat at your Hy-Vee Garden Center.