We are excited to bring to you our first ever Design Dilemma blog post! Part of the excitement and the challenge of design consulting is helping people find creative solutions to their home “issues”. We all spend so much time at home – it should be your sanctuary, the place that provides you comfort and ease, as well as meeting all of your day-to-day needs. When a client comes in, we discuss practicality first and aesthetics second. What is the point of a space that is beautiful, but not comfortable or useful? Our aim is to help create a space that supports the function of the family, while also reflecting personal style and taste!
This month’s Design Dilemma comes from a young family near NYC who own a beautiful three-story brownstone. They have a lower patio area in the back with a built-in grill & bar, and would like to create a spot for play dates, lounging, and casual entertaining. They also have a second floor deck, right off the kitchen, that is smaller (17′ L x 7’W) that they want to use as a quieter seating area for morning coffee and quick bites.
Here are a few before pictures:
Client’s Wish List:
- Comfort and durability
- Fabrics and materials that are easy to clean
- Place for kids toys
- Eating spot
- Lounging spot
- Color and texture
- Entertaining area that can accommodate up to 10 people at a time
- Keep as many plants as possible
Key design challenges for the upper level:
- Small space
- Large planters take up floor space
- Exposed to full sun/lack of shade
- Lack of privacy with neighbors
- Stairs can be hazardous with a small child
Key design challenges for the lower level:
- Lack of night time lighting, especially on staircase
- Seating arrangement cannot block the lower doors
- Focus on casual seating versus formal dining set
Here is what we came up with:
Upper Level Umbrella Closed
Upper Level Umbrella Open
The main priority for the upper level was to remove the large floor planters and replace them with planters that hang along all three railings. Doing so frees up much needed floor space, while maintaining the natural privacy screen that keeps out prying eyes.
Next, we concentrated on the furniture type. A small space requires smaller-scaled furniture – we found that some teak pieces fit the bill. Our teak furniture comes in stylish frames with simple lines and comfortable outdoor cushions. Comfort doesn’t need to be sacrificed for space! A standard coffee table in front of the loveseats, because this is a high traffic area, wasn’t going to work here. We opted instead for two small end tables that can be tucked along the railing and pulled out whenever needed.
Another high priority was to create some shade for those sweltering days of summer! We found a great swing arm umbrella that provides plenty of sun protection and stays out of the way when not in use.
Moving to the lower level, you may notice that we didn’t fill all the space with furniture. The family wanted enough seating for lounging and entertaining, but the priority was to provide an outdoor space for kids to play. So, we left the center area as the play space while creating comfortable seating around the perimeter for the adults. This works well in two ways: kids have room to run around, and adults have their own area to socialize. Ample seating is provided by the sectional and accent chairs, as well as the teak bar stools around the grill and outdoor kitchen.
We chose total outdoor furniture for the sectional and accent chairs because this area is completely exposed to the elements, with little shade. Total outdoor furniture is made of all-weather high density resin wicker wrapped over an aluminum frame with cushions are self-draining, mildew-resistant, and anti-microbial commercial grade foam. Therefore, a great low maintenance choice.
The colors and fabrics we chose for the lower level create a more vibrant and upbeat palette, in comparison to the cool tones we chose for the upper level. Both spaces complement one another, but have their own “feel”. This doesn’t mean the spaces aren’t interchangeable, but they do have their own distinct ambiance.
To help illuminate the spaces at night, we love the idea of backyard lanterns. String lights are also an easy and effective way to brighten the backyard and create a soft, beautiful glow. Hang them from fence to fence, along the railings down the stairs, and even in the trees to create the feeling of a starry night.
Mission accomplished! The family now has multiple places to eat, drink, nap and play all in the comfort of their own backyard!
Brought to you by Cottage Home – specializing in cottage furniture & farmhouse tables