photo: Cottage Home
Here in Maine, the snow is starting to melt and patches of ground are peaking through. The days are longer – and the sun is warmer. After a long winter, we are all dreaming of those lazy days of summer when we can enjoy the great outdoors, so naturally we are thinking of outdoor decorating ideas.
Now is the time to start thinking about decorating your outdoor space! Take a look in your storage area to see what furnishings you have and if it’s in good condition. Can your outdoor furniture be used again this year – perhaps with a little touch-up or repair? Do you need to add some new pieces or are you starting fresh with a new outdoor décor that will maximize your space and enhance your enjoyment?
Ordering furniture can take up to three months for delivery, so let’s get started now. First, think about your space and how you plan to use it. Are you decorating for a summer home at the coast or a rustic retreat in the mountains or at a lake? Is it an urban pocket garden or a Victorian porch? Is it spacious and sprawling or compact and contained? Is your outdoor area sunny or shady – or a combination of the two? Think about how you want to use the space – for dining, lounging, entertaining or as an outdoor retreat.
Make a floor plan – or should we say a grounds plan. Taking dimensions might not be as easy in the great outdoors, but a sketch and approximate dimensions will do. You may want to divide your space into areas with a good flow for grilling, dining, sunning, playing, or even working. Then, decide what pieces of furniture you will need in those areas. If you are decorating for an enclosed porch or deck, think of it as a room. Take more careful measurements and plot your furniture placement on a computer program or on graph paper.
Think theme! Ideally, your outdoor space should be an extension of your home and fit the environment where it is located. Your outdoor décor may be sleek and sophisticated for a modern home or in an urban setting. Or, it may be rustic or Victorian for a cottage-style home.
In recent years, advances in materials and finishes have expanded the choices for outdoor furnishings. Today’s new materials and technology have made it possible for outdoor furnishings to be fashionable, as well as durable and weather-resistant.
Let’s look at some of the options available today:
Wicker is an all-time favorite for outdoor living. It is reminiscent of a bygone era when families gathered on the front porch. Made of hand-woven rattan, it is durable, strong, and flexible. However, traditional wicker is best used indoors or in a covered or screened-in porch where there is limited exposure to rain and sun. For outdoor use, look for specially made outdoor wicker furniture that will stand up to the elements. High quality products are generally made of all-weather high density resin wicker over an aluminum frame. Cushions should be self-draining, mildew resistant, and made of anti-microbial commercial grade foam. The furniture can be painted in a variety of colors to create a décor that reflects your personal decorating style.
What about wood? We all remember those old benches, chairs and picnic tables that would peel, crack and splinter. That’s a problem of the past thanks to new pressure treated kiln-dried wood materials. Often made from treated Southern pine – an American renewable resource – this outdoor furniture keeps its good looks for years to come.
photo: Cottage Home
For a totally maintenance-free choice, consider outdoor furnishings made of 100 percent recycled plastic. This eco-friendly furniture is economical and long lasting. Available in bright colors and upscale design, many of these collections herald a whole new era of plastic chic. Perfect for reading and relaxing, the Adirondack chair is light weight, colorful and easy to store. No more peeling, cracking or splintering. Just hose it down and it’s clean. Recycled plastic tables, chairs and occasional pieces make outdoor living a breeze, even in challenging weather environments like here on the Maine coast. An important added benefit – eco-friendly furniture means that it is good for the environment.
As in any décor, it’s the accessories and accent pieces that make the space unique and attractive. For outdoor living, it’s important to light up the night. Solar lighting can be used to illuminate the garden and pathways. Twinkling string lights can be draped through trees and posts to create a romantic effect. Overhead lighting helps ensure that the space can be used at night for dining or reading. Oil lanterns and candle hurricane lanterns create a rustic effect, while safe for use in an open windy area.
Area rugs made of polypropylene/olefin fabrics help delineate the space in an outdoor room. Available in an array or colors and patterns, these indoor-outdoor rugs are easy to clean, stain-resistant, and fade-resistant.
Let your imagination roam free. Use pillows and throws to soften the space. Mix and match colors and patterns. Potted and hanging plants create a natural flow to the surrounding garden. Look for artwork, sculptures, rocks, shells or driftwood to create nature-inspired accents that reflect your environment. Most of all – have fun! That’s what summer and outdoor living is all about!
Brought to you by Cottage Home – specializing in cottage furniture & farmhouse tables