Saturday, May 30, 2009

Outdoor Rooms and Entertaining

Memorial Day seems to be the kick-off date for the summer season, and along with that, is the focus on outdoor living and entertainment. Whether you have a manor house, complete with an outdoor kitchen or hearth area – or - reside in a high-rise with a balcony overlooking the city, utilizing these spaces will often allow you to extend the number of folks on your guest list, as you are also able to capture additional square footage for your living quarters.

backyard-retreat-l Courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

Outdoor living areas are often influenced by the climate zone. For example, I live in the southeastern part of the United States. There are many lovely evenings, with nice breezes. There are also some very humid evenings, fraught with pesky mosquitoes and other uninvited guests. Either a screened porch or planning for some methods of controlling the environment, (outdoor fans or citronella lanterns), need to be considered. Conversely, you may need an outdoor heater, for some of your early or late season entertaining. Hanging shades or patio umbrellas can help to control the glare of the sun. Others prefer full shelter, in the event of an afternoon sprinkle. These are just a few of the basics to consider when designing your space, as materials for furniture, outdoor rugs, or other accents will be impacted by exposure to the elements.

img_aeoniumslg_ss1 Courtesy of Traditional Homes Magazine

img_kaleidoscope_2Once your designated outdoor space has been chosen, you can decide if you want to create a true outdoor room, or if you simply want a specific function. In some of the photographs, I’ve shared, you can see how easy it is to pull in some exterior elements, which have an interior feel. In the porch above, not only is there a fireplace, there are pillows, curtain panels, and a lamp – all with special finishes, in allowing for the natural elements to come in.

ss_100020302In the deck area, above, a little built-in seat and a pergola, allows the focus to be on the plantings and natural materials, such at the stone wall and supports. Clustering containers can help to define a spot and bring color. This setting would work well on a city balcony, too.

There are wonderful resources for outdoor furniture, containers and accessory items. In my next post, I’ll share a few of those. Keep in mind, the most important element will be to keep whatever you do, fun, relaxed and friendly. This is the time of year to kick back and forget any serious and formal approaches to entertaining. The host or hostess deserves a little break, too!

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