BY JENNIFER ADAMS
IT’S THE PERFECT
combination: an expanded home footprint,
additional living space
and being outdoors.
Regardless of whether
your yard (or your budget) is big or small, you
can create outdoor spaces so welcoming you
won’t want to go inside. Here are a few ways
to get started.
Think function. How do you want to use
your outdoor space? This will dictate what
furniture you’ll need. For lazy afternoons
spent reading or napping, choose a sofa,
chairs with an ottoman or a chaise lounge.
For easy conversation over a glass of wine
or a cup of coffee, consider chairs that are
more upright, as well as a small table.
A big, long dining table is a great outdoor social gathering spot. The options for
an outdoor kitchen are out there, too, if you
like to cook.
Start with a focal point. A great view, a
sculptural plant, a water feature or an outdoor fire pit provides focus to an outdoor
room just as a TV or fireplace sets the tone
for rooms in your house.
Anchor your outdoor room with “walls”
and a “ceiling.” On a trip to Italy I noticed
they often outline outdoor spaces with large
olive or lemon trees. I was inspired to add
four olive trees in my yard, and suddenly my
floating seating area felt like a comfortable
room. With three strands of lights above,
we had a charming, low-cost ceiling to
brighten the evenings.
Trees, fences, railings, hedges or large
pots, a path or the exterior of your house are
other ways to create walls. A trellis or a
canopy makes a nice ceiling.
Accent with lights. Reinforce your outdoor space with layered lighting. Use large
lanterns at the corners and entry to paths,
and smaller lights along fences and railings.
Add a string of lights to the underside of
your patio umbrella and you’ll have light to
see after dark, without more expensive
Choose a theme. Effortless and casual
is a great style for any budget, with fully
upholstered sofas, long picnic tables with
flexible seating, weathered woods, mismatched chairs and richly textured outdoor
fabrics. Or, consider a more romantic
European style, with curvy shapes and dark
painted metal or wicker. If you prefer a sleek
modern look, choose rectangular furniture
and neutral fabrics.
Arrange your furniture for conversation,
not just for the view. When all of the furniture is oriented toward the view, it’s really
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hard to talk to someone else. Have some of
the chairs pointing toward each other, and
the view can be to the side.
Remember to accessorize. Outdoor rugs
help to define seating areas. And you can
connect colors throughout the entire grouping with your cushions, accent pillows,
blankets and accessories.
Outdoor art, including vintage-style
signs and favorite treasures, finish the
look; try using unusual objects—such as
petrified wood blocks—as end tables to
add another layer of interest. Ceramic
garden stools, which come in all sorts of
shapes, sizes and colors, can be used as
Think of your outdoor space the same
way you think of a great room. If you create
lots of options for seating to include conversation, eating and relaxing, you’ll have an
outdoor space that’ll get just as much use as
your indoor spaces. C
Jennifer Adams ( jenniferadams.com) is a
nationally syndicated interior design expert.
A variety of Jennifer Adams Home products
are available on
Costco.com and rotate
through Costco warehouses.
•Keep warm on chilly evenings.
Copy charming European sidewalk
cafés and give every guest a throw
blanket. I keep extras in a large basket, and match the color with my
cushions and throw pillows so the
space always looks coordinated.
• Heat your outdoor space.
Beyond a fire pit, portable propane
outdoor heaters work well, as do
hard-wired versions installed on an
overhang or a gazebo ceiling. Use
only as the manufacturer suggests.
• Cool your outdoor space. If
you live in the desert or in other dry
climates, cooling patio misters will
make lounging even more delightful.
For humid weather, move the air
with outdoor fans and orient the
space to capture the breezes.
•A vine-covered trellis or a
shade tree at the southwest corner
provides shade during summer and
lets light through during winter.
•Grow tall seasonal plants
to create a wall, such as grapes,
clematis or climbing roses.
Or plant a row of slender
trees or shrubs.—JA
Furniture, ;re pits, umbrellas and much
more are available seasonally at Costco
warehouses and year-round on Costco.com.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to see Jennifer Adams’ ideas
come to life in a video exploring outdoor
options. (See page 9 for details.)