Update Your Outdoors: 5 Tips for Decorating Outdoor Spaces

Creating an outdoor space that is pleasant and stunning is as simple as following a few key rules of decorating.  Transform yours from lifeless to lively with these tips for decorating outdoor spaces.

Even though summer is drawing to a close, there is still plenty of time to enjoy your outdoor living space, and it’s not too late (or too early!) to consider making your porch, patio, deck, or yard all that it can be!  As you plan, remember to take into account all of your space; not having solid walls and a ceiling means that you can get really creative in using the space you do have.

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1.  Look Up

Although your outdoor living space has the benefit of natural lighting, other forms of lighting are essential to a beautiful design.  If you have a ceiling or roof of some kind over your outdoor living space, then it may be very easy to add a lovely, antique lantern or a chandelier, depending on your taste.

chandelierBetter Homes and Gardens

If hard-wiring a light fixture isn’t possible, consider using candles, battery operated lights, Christmas lights, or solar lights.  The space below makes use of  a chandelier and strings of lights.

08-hbx-string-outdoor-lights-fiscus-1010-lgnHouse Beautiful

If you don’t have a ceiling to work with, create one by adding a large outdoor umbrella or beautiful canopy tent.

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canopyBetter Homes and Gardens

2.  Look Down

Your outdoor “floor” may be wood, stone, concrete, grass or any combination, and while you will definitely want to consider what look  you can achieve by adding or changing those materials, a rug is an easy and relatively inexpensive design element that packs a lot of punch.  Choose one that enhances and coordinates with your color scheme and the surroundings.

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Better Homes and Gardens

3.  Plants

Notice in the picture above that the bright citron and lime greens in the plants are reflected in the green accent pillows.  In an outdoor space, plants are a vital part of the decor, so select your plants carefully, and choose ones that will complement the fabrics and decorations you choose (and vice versa!).  Also consider selecting plants that will be hardy through the winter or putting your pots on casters for easy relocation.

plantsBetter Homes and Gardens

4.  Color Scheme

Before adding items to your outdoor living space, select a color scheme and stick to it!  Fabrics are a great way to enhance your color scheme and provide interest in your outdoor living space.  There are many outdoor fabrics available, and you shouldn’t be afraid to throw in some bold colors or to mix patterns.  Notice in the picture below that the wall space has been used for plantings that pick up some of the colors in the fabrics.  Furniture, rugs, lighting fixtures, and plants should all be considered as elements in your color scheme.

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5.  Furniture

When choosing furniture for your outdoor living space, make a list of the ways in which you plan to use it — will you be dining there frequently, reading by yourself, entertaining guests, hanging out poolside?

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Test out the furniture before you buy it.  If it’s comfortable, you and your guests will be more likely to use it.  Think about both the style of the pieces you choose (do they go with your color scheme and decor style?) and the quality.  Purchase quality pieces that will last well, stand up to weather, require little maintenance, and, if possible, be able to be stored during the winter to prolong the life of the furniture.  Check out these tips by Better Homes and Gardens.

For more information:  10 Easy Outdoor Decorating Ideas, 24 Patio Perk-Ups

For help in creating your dynamite design, contact Melanie Langford, CT Interior Designer of All About Interiors.

Festive Labor Day Decorations

Are you planning a Labor Day gathering but need some ideas for decorations to make it extra special?  These ideas for a festive decor will take your party to the next level!

 

Labor Day typically signals the end of summer, so take this opportunity to celebrate everything that’s special about summer.  This means taking advantage of warmer weather and outdoor spaces for entertaining with bright, cheerful colors, an easy-to-prepare menu (so you can enjoy the party too!), and fun and festive touches.

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The Decor

When most people think of Labor Day decorations, they think patriotic, but you don’t have to stick to the stars and stripes to have a stunning decor for the holiday.  Consider using beautiful, fresh flowers to create the color palette.  Delicious, abundant fruits of the summer such as strawberries, blueberries, and watermelon are all perfect for the theme as well.

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This table scape uses gorgeous white hydrangeas in simple glass containers wrapped in rope and red and white table runners placed horizontally across the table to double as place mats.

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How cute are these?  Mason jars with red and blue bandannas serve as decor, napkin, utensil holder, and drinking glass!

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You can also choose to buck the patriotic trend and go a different direction.  Tradition states that one shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day, so how about an all white party…

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or Labor Day Lobster?

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The Menu

Of course, what’s a party without food and drink?  Choose food that’s delicious, simple, and enhances your decorations when possible.  Serve this patriotic “cake” made of strawberries, angel food cake and blueberries with fresh whipped cream for dipping.

patriotic fruit cakePinterest

And the drinks?  Well, these speak for themselves!

cocktailsReal Simple

Whatever Labor Day decorations or theme you choose, make all the elements work for you and your decor.  You and your guests will have a blast!  Cheers!

Melanie Langford, CT Interior Designer with All About Interiors is available to help with all your decorating needs.

Update Your Outdoors: Swoon-Worthy Porch Swings

Is your porch or deck boring and uninviting?  Check out these tips for selecting a stylish porch swing that will create instant comfort and decor in your outside space!

When the cooler evenings of late summer and early fall arrive, there’s nothing better than watching the sunset from a comfortable porch swing.   A beautiful porch invites us to bring our lives outdoors, invites our friends and loved ones in, and encourages us to step away from our hectic lives for a moment and just be.

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A well-designed home creates a space where we are truly comfortable, and that space isn’t limited to the insides of our homes.  Creating an inviting and stylish exterior design requires just as much thought as an interior design, and furniture is a large part of that.  This week, we will focus on how to choose the right porch swing for your exterior.

CONSIDER YOUR SPACE

Whether you have a large covered front porch, a deck, or no porch at all, there is a swing that will suit your needs, but you must first consider location and space.  In choosing a location for your swing, make sure that you have sufficient space.  A gliding swing requires no overhead support and much less space than a traditional hanging porch swing, so it can be used in almost any space with minimal effort.

Magnolia Glider Bench

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If you have a porch with beams sturdy enough to support the weight of a hanging swing, you’ll also need to have sufficient space for the swing to move freely.  Plan at least 4 feet of swinging room  and 6 inches of space on each side.  Standard swing sizes are 4, 6, and 8 feet, but you’ll need approximately 2 feet per person with extra room for larger adults or wiggly kids.  17 inches off the floor is a good starting point for hanging height.

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CHOOSE YOUR SWING TYPE

  The traditional porch swing is a wooden hanging swing, but there are many other choices available:  gliding, a hanging swing/stand set, a single or double, hammock, unusually shaped swings, or even a porch bed!

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SELECT THE RIGHT MATERIAL

Whether your swing will be exposed to the elements or not will greatly influence what type of material your swing should be made from.  Teak and cedar are good choices for a swing that will be exposed to weather, as they naturally resist rot and decay and weather well.  Other woods such as oak, maple, or pine, metal, wicker, and repurposed headboards, chairs, doors and even wooden pallets can be used to create beautiful porch swings.

For assistance in designing your swoon-worthy porch space, feel free to post comments or ask questions!  CT Interior Designer Melanie Langford of All About Interiors is glad to help!

For further information:  This Old House

The Difference Quality Furniture Can Make

The difference in a decorated room and a well decorated room can simply come down to the quality of  furniture used in that decor.  I have found over the past 14 years that introducing at least one quality heirloom piece in a space can make the room feel high end and make all the difference in the world.

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Who better to explain the differences between “box store” furniture and quality heirloom furniture than Stuart R. Kent, Owner & Master Craftsman
of Stuart Kent & Co.

Understanding Heirloom Furniture

“Once upon a time furniture was one of the most valuable and important things a family or business could invest in. Furniture buying was predicated on the notion that we would buy the very best we could afford, and in most cases, we saved hard to afford even better. Homeowners and businesses endeavored to craft environments that they loved being in. They carefully created spaces that defined their interests and made clear statements about them as people. Historically we believed that investing in quality furniture was an important contribution to the growth of long term wealth within families. We made these investments because we understood that good pieces appreciated as they were handed down through the generations. Furniture was purchased from this perspective worldwide for the last several centuries.

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Over the past four decades the practice of investing in good furniture has changed. Mass manufacturing in foreign markets drove down the global cost of furniture, and in most cases, the quality went down with the price. Technology is leveling the playing field for those of us committed to making great furniture, by enabling us to compete at market competitive prices – with better quality furniture. In my company for example, we employ a marriage of computerized cutting equipment and traditional woodworking for fine joinery and finishing, in order to craft the finest pieces that can be made. Our goal is to create something, that when it receives our name, will be something you will cherish, something that will increase in value, something you will show off. We call this heirloom furniture, I’ll explain.
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To call a piece of furniture heirloom quality, every aspect of the piece must meet specific criteria. First and most importantly are the materials. Engineered materials like plywood, fiberboard, and plastics are great for all kinds of things, but rarely do they appreciate in value. To the contrary, good quality hardwoods, fine veneers, cast bronze or brass, copper, cast iron, quality steels, leaded glass, full grain leather, and fine textiles – will and do, often appreciate in value (just ask Christie’s). Next is the quality of manufacture. The best furniture must be robustly joined with well-crafted, appropriately sized and correctly applied joinery. Mechanical fasteners can be used, but only where necessary, they must be of the highest quality, and correct to the period and style. Finishes must be appropriate to the design style, for example, a 19th century highboy would never be painted or finished with a lacquer of any kind. Instead, the chest would be finished with hand rubbed shellac or a traditional varnish made of natural oils applied meticulously in thin layers by hand. A Barcelona chair must be chromed at the highest quality standards, upholstered with the finest leather, and joined with stainless steel machine screws, or it is just an imitation.

Style is subjective and can be less important to the value of a piece than the build quality and authenticity. Consider that original Philadelphia Chippendale and Shaker furniture pieces are widely regarded in the antiques world as American premium collectibles. To the contrary, connoisseurs of contemporary design might gravitate towards furniture from the Nakashima, Eames, or Gustav Stickley workshops. While individual pieces from either of these styles may gain more value due to provenance, as a whole, the styles are similar in overall value. The commonality between them is monetary appreciation.

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The way furniture is cared for and the role a piece plays in a collection is also important to its long term value. Good furniture needs to be used because it is made to serve a purpose. Usage also adds authenticity to an heirloom, and gives it a role in a collection. Refinishing or painting a great piece can often decimate its value, because an important part of the piece is no longer original. Nobody understands this better than great Interior Designers. They often search high and low for a few special pieces that have real value and appeal to a client’s personal aesthetic. Designers then craft an environmental experience around that sense of value and concept of style. A central idea in good interior design is that the space and objects in it have purpose, rather than being props, even if that purpose is purely aesthetic. The most important pieces in that collection then gain provenance within a family or business, as they show up in photos or other documents. If they are well cared for and maintained, these pieces will typically be handed down from one generation to the next and gain value with each passing.

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It is important to understand that to be an heirloom, a piece does not have to be old, it has to be right. What I mean is that copies of old pieces, even when made to the best standards by the best craftsmen, are just that – copies. A piece must be original, it must possess great proportion, be scaled correctly, comprised of the best materials, constructed to the highest standards, and it must be authentic. Maker’s marks like stamps, medallions, and even signatures help – but a bad piece signed by a good maker is still a bad piece, and a great piece not signed is often forgotten.

As you think about buying furniture remember this; nobody one will ever show off their fiberboard, drywall screws, and catalyzed lacquer – but they will show off their handcrafted solid cherry farm table with mortise and tenon joinery, finished with linseed oil and wax, signed by a Master.”

Thank you so much Stuart for helping my readers understand the huge difference that a quality heirloom furniture piece can create in their home. ~Melanie Langford, All About Interiors

Stuart Kent Co

I am entirely impressed with the quality and craftsmanship that Stuart Kent creates.  At Stuart Kent & Co. they make heirlooms for clients that share their values. They make articles to enhance environments and enrich your memories. What they produce requires attention to detail, mastery of hand skills, focus, and patience.

 

 

Decorating In A Small Space

Decorating in a small space can be a challenge.  Below are super simple ways on how to handle your decor in a small residence.

If the size of your space is posing design challenges, remember the key to developing a comfortable living area is having a space-efficient plan.

Every square foot is usable,  and choosing the right piece can make all the difference in making your room feel bigger than it really is.  Style placement and functionality are the key components when battling small square footage.

 Clean lines

Consider the clean, simple lines of contemporary furniture or at the very least, transitional pieces.  They will help to improve sight lines and minimize visual clutter.   There are many contemporary sets that come in smaller sized proportions so you can save space and still get the look you desire.

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Go upward

Square footage is measured side by side, but life isn’t two dimensional.  Make the most of your small space by going vertical.    Mix in some taller pieces that serve dual functions such as a table lamp that also serves as an end table or an entertainment center that also has tower shelving for books and pictures.  You can also utilize  your wall space upward for storage by adding shelving.

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Functional Furniture

Utilizing multipurpose pieces is an intelligent way to avoid overcrowding.  For example, you can use a coffee table that works also as storage and a work space all in one.  Or a vanity table in a bedroom that can also double as a desk.

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Keep it Simple

It is entirely possible to go overboard when decorating, so try to avoid using busy patterns.  Sticking with solids and simple patterns will help keep the palette clean.  You can still have fun with color but keep it simple.

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Making every inch count is entirely possible in a small space.  Just remember, clean lines, simple pattern or solids, go vertical and multi function your furniture and you’ll have yourself a very usable and pleasingly decorative space.

For assistance with decorating your small space, feel free to comment or ask questions! All About Interiors, CT Interior Designer, Melanie Langford is glad to help!

Blog post taken from Raymour Flanigan Article.