whether you’re listening to Ella Fitzgerald or Sublime, while lazing in the hammock, with a cool glass of lemonade (or sauvignon blanc ;), welcome to summer!!
a few weeks ago, i had the honor of being on a speaker’s panel at america's mart talking about outdoor design! the editor of atlanta magazine HOME asked me to participate, based on the fact that i was also designing one of the outdoor spaces in this year’s modern style showhouse and she thought it would be a good fit. my initial response was “of course, absolutely, i’d love to!!”, but then i thought, wait, you don’t design outdoor spaces, what do you know??!! but then i poured a tall glass of sb, turned up the itunes, and thought, no, you do have this, this is dream land! designing for outdoor spaces is perfect!! i’m going for style, comfort, patina, and truly being one with the elements. sure there are sooooo many more products that are weather resistant, but part of the reality of using things outside (especially in atlanta where it rains more than maybe anywhere in the usa in the summer…) is that things will either completely fall apart or they will develop a beautiful patina and that’s part of the design!
for outdoor spaces, i want everything. i want fire, water, twinkly lights, easy access to bug spray, preferably a cabana boy to fetch me my cocktail… ok, i’m stretching the fantasy now, but essentially, I want livin’ easy. it shouldn’t feel overworked or desperate. it’s weathered, it’s comfortable, it’s a wonder of nature amidst man-made products. maybe it’s a confluence of styles that come together because your spouse decided to invite half the neighborhood over for a bbq and drinks at the last moment and you’re throwing together make-shift seating arrangements?
when i look at the pics i’ve saved for this blog, essentially everything i love for outdoor designs, i’m quite shocked i haven’t already moved to the mediterranean. my last full house project included the covered patio and i definitely wanted it to have a mediterranean feel. the picture below was part of the marketing for the talk at america’s mart :)
on to some prime examples of the essentials of outdoor design as i see it…
first things first, water is a must!!! if i happened to have a quarry in my backyard, you best believe i’d convert it to a swimming hole straight away!
after you’re done swimming or otherwise exerting all your energy not to drown, you need a tranquil setting to rehydrate and fuel yourself!! outdoor dining spaces have sooooo many options!! but must include: incredible foliage, whimsy, fabulously individual chairs, and a natural sophistication.
fire is good! how wonderful are the memories that consist of making s’mores over an open flame??!! that is truly the stuff childhood is made of! so, although my dream backyard is far more haughty than the ymca camp i attended, perhaps my offspring will still look back on their experience with a slightly more humble eye, and reflect, but at least we used the fair trade chocolate that was on sale.
so once the s’mores are perfected and ready to be consumed, you need a place to lounge. creating a destination is key to the experience. this is one place i love to see more interesting and original designs! especially if you’re only buying 2 or 3 pieces. go for it!! splurge a little if you’re getting something that is unique (and comfortable and not going to melt the second it gets wet…)
some of you may be throwing poison darts at me because you’re in a condo, apartment, or an otherwise small space that doesn’t have a quarry as it’s backyard… but guess what?? you too can have gorgeousness for the summer!! i have always said the best thing about smaller spaces is it gives you the ability to splurge a bit more, because you’re buying less stuff!! in smaller spaces, it’s all about texture, texture, texture! buy the best you can afford because you’re using it everyday and you will appreciate it and it will last!!
easy is enjoying what you have, it actually lasting (or not and you don’t care), and friends and family wanting to come back for more!
me and my back yard, we got this relationship…