What’s your outdoor living style? Do you prefer contemporary or traditional, transitional or eclectic? Perhaps you like calm and soothing colors and patterns on fabrics rather than bold and busy. Shiny surfaces or matte? Sleek or earthy and natural? Do you prefer smooth outdoor fabrics or those that have texture?
Each of these elements contributes to the overall style, look, and feel of your outdoor living room. If you choose sleek, shiny surfaces and simple fabrics, you are probably aiming for a more contemporary look. If you go for the textured finish of natural stone and earthy hued fabrics, your style may be more rustic or contemporary, depending on the style of the furniture you choose. Details in the furnishings, such as arm, leg, and back styles, have a lot of impact on the overall look you will end up with as well.
It’s important to blend the various pieces in your outdoor room design to achieve the look and feel that you desire. Close attention must be paid to whether or not each component relates to and compliments the others. A design professional (often available at your local specialty retailer) can help with this. With so many elements to think about, it is very helpful to have the input of someone who is trained to think about each of these individual factors and see the whole picture.
The more eclectic your design, the more important it is to consider each piece of the design puzzle. Without a matching set in which the tables and chairs all match in style and color, you must consider scale, balance, and whether pieces will physically fit together.
For instance, if a dining chair from one source is to be used with a dining table from another, the arm and seat height of the chairs and the table height and clearance must be considered. Purchased as a set, you know they’ll work together. But when mixing and matching, you have to take compatible furniture heights into consideration.
However, if you do go the eclectic route, you have the best chance of creating an outdoor living room that will be uniquely yours. I’m a big fan of the eclectic style because of the unique, one-of-a-kind result it produces. It also allows for a more forgiving mixture of different styles, colors, and patterns which, when successful, look as though the pieces were randomly collected but presented in an interesting and compelling way.
While it may take a little bit longer to select all of the pieces, the hunt can be half the fun. If this task seems like too much work, remember you can always consult with a design professional.
Whatever your style preference, the Outdoorlicious! areas of your house can be stunning. Too often, people simply buy a set of furniture and then add more as they can afford it. My advice is to resist buying something just to have it. Think about how you live and how your outdoor living area will be used. Consider how your outdoor area relates to your home and what your ideal outdoor living room would look like.
Begin to get a feel for what you would like to have if you could buy everything—furniture and accessories— at one time as a complete package. Visit Pinterest for great images of beautiful outdoor porches, decks, and patios. Spend some time looking in home decorating and lifestyle magazines and save the pictures that appeal to you. Then, shop outdoor furniture stores to see what is available.
Be sure to bring your pictures and take some time to speak with the salesperson for insight into what would best meet your needs and be suitable for your outdoor area. Just because something is designed—or sold—to be used outside does not mean that it is a suitable choice for your situation. Your goal should be to create the outdoor room of your dreams, even if it is one step at a time. Put a plan in place and be thoughtful about each item that you select to make sure that it fits into your plan. If you are thoughtful and methodical, you will be rewarded with the outdoor living you’ve envisioned and realize that the time and money spent was a very wise investment.
Southern Living Magazine
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