Monthly Archives: March 2014

4 tips for designing a midcentury modern outdoor space

Midcentury modern is a retro interior design trend that is being used more often these days. The theme was popular in homes built from 1945 through the 1980s​, and featured a streamlined look that incorporates elements from nature. This interior design scheme has a focus on functionality in its decorative components. Here are four tips for incorporating a midcentury modern theme into your outdoor seating space:

1. Furniture
Midcentury furniture often has modern shapes that are designed to promote comfort. Additionally, many seating styles following this theme have a rectangular shape like, RST Brands' Sol Sling 4-Piece Set. It comes with two wide textilene mesh chairs, which provide a comfortable seat for all users. The fabrication is specifically manufactured to prevent mildew from forming, so go ahead and place it near your pool area. The set also comes with a bench seat and a coffee table. The Sol Sling line is available in three colors: lime green, melon orange and mist blue.

Sol Sling also has a collection of lounge chairs that are perfect to set near your hot tub. The Sol Sling chaise lounge set comes complete with two adjustable chairs that offer four laying and sitting positions. The third piece is a small table, which is perfect to lay your poolside drinks on. Bonus: Any splashes from your chlorinated pool won't damage the look of the chairs.

2. Color
For a contemporary twist on your midcentury outdoor living space, incorporate some lively colors. Sol Sling's seating set is one place to start, but don't stop there. You can pick up some printed throw pillows in hues that complement your outdoor furniture.

3. Lighting
Your lighting choices are a great place to incorporate midcentury design. Like the furniture, these pieces often have unique shapes and colors, however, there are a few underlying themes present in most of the fixtures. Natural hues like brown and tan are widely used in midcentury interior and exterior decor, as well as lightly treated wood finishes.

4. Plants
For another natural element, pick up a variety of plants to place around your outdoor living space. Opt for wooden containers instead of porcelain or terra cotta styles. For a layered effect, choose plants of varying heights (like cacti and citrus trees) to place around your patio bistro set. Also, consider installing hanging patio planters for a multidimensional look.

Create a stylish, private backyard retreat

If you're looking to create a special backyard retreat just for you and your family, you might be concerned with the privacy of your outdoor seating. Today there are plenty of alternatives to a bulky traditional fence, and some of the options out there can even enhance your outdoor area's design, from free-standing screens to walls of ivy. Here are just a few ideas to inspire you:

Wooden slats
For an easy DIY project, opt for a rustic but attractive wood slat wall. This is a natural addition for your garden that can be painted to include a pop of color in your backyard, stained to enhance the wood grains, or left in its natural state for a beautiful way to get some privacy. Wooden slat fences allow some light to shine through their separate panels, so the greenery from your neighbor's yard won't be completely hidden from view.

Flowered trellis
You can design a trellis garden fence to be as subtle or impressive as you like. Include an elegant pergola to offer you and your guests shade on a sunny day. Flank either side of your trellis entrance with urns filled with seasonal blooms to make a grand impression. Add colorful climbing flowers to your trellis design that will grow and block the view to your garden space. You can even enclose the workspace where you pot plants or prepare projects in front of your shed with a trellis wall to shield it from view. 

For a more intimate feel, opt for outdoor curtains. This is a great choice that is easy to remove or replace if your design changes, and they can give your backyard a secluded and secret vibe. You can hang curtain panels and gather them together to expand your view of the garden around you, or let them flow freely in the wind for a luxurious look.

Potted plants
Add to the life in your garden with a living wall. This is a creative way to shield your space without installing a fence. Just choose medium- to large-height plants that fit your backyard's design theme and you can create a beautiful, live border! Choosing coordinating planters will create a cohesive and seamless look.

Patio seating
To create a relaxing space so you and your guests can enjoy the privacy of your backyard, arrange your patio furniture as you would in your family room to encourage gathering for conversation. For maximum comfort and protection from the harsh evening sun, try positioning your privacy screen to the west of your seating arrangement. Make sure to include comfortable covered cushions and pillows, and your outdoor area will become the most popular room in your home. 

Tips for entertaining on a small balcony

If you have a condominium or apartment in an urban area, your outdoor living space might be tight. Take advantage of the prime square footage with a smart design scheme. This allows you to utilize the space effectively when entertaining guests. Check out these tips for optimizing a small balcony:

First study the layout of the balcony and find out how many people can safely occupy the space at one time. This will help you plan the layout of the area. Many balconies have rectangular shapes, while others are square. To help you plan, make a drawing of the type of seating you want, and take measurements to ensure you allocate enough walking space.

Bench outdoor seating is perfect for small balconies. You can slide the benches against the rails to maximize space. If you want something a little more luxurious, an outdoor sectional is a great alternative to a bench because it offers a cushioned seat to your guests. If you have the room, place a patio bistro set on your balcony for a dining area. For extremely small spaces, you can opt for corner chairs, which fit inside a nook perfectly.

You want your balcony decor to fit in with the rest of your home, while staying true to your style aesthetic. Choose outdoor seating that comes with colorful cushions or pillows. Or you can add your own throw pillows in a contrasting hue and print to the cushions. Place patio planters near your seating to bring a bit of nature to the space.

Entertaining tips
Serve drinks on a platter – If you and your guests like to enjoy cocktails or wine on the balcony, make the serving process easy on yourself. Mix up the cocktails or pour the wine in your kitchen or bar area, and place each drink on a platter. This way you won’t have to make multiple trips to your small balcony.

Slide your grill in the corner – Maximize the space on your balcony by sliding your grill in a corner. This also ensures that the smoke from your grill will float up and out of the balcony space instead of on your guests.

Cook finger foods – If you are serving food on your balcony, stick to smaller dishes. Serve finger foods and appetizers so your table won’t be filled with large plates.

Add storage to your balcony – Place decorative storage bins underneath your table or in an unused corner. This allows you to easily grab whatever tools you need to entertain, like napkins, utensils, glasses and candles.

7 outdoor entertaining tips for a stress-free party

As the weather starts to warm up, chances are you will be spending more time outdoors. Take full advantage of your backyard space by throwing a bunch of parties during spring and summer. If the idea of a couple months full of bashes stresses you out, don't worry! There are simple ways to entertain that provide a great experience for your guests. Read on for seven outdoor entertaining tips:

1. Select furniture with cushions
Opt for furniture with cushions to provide a relaxing experience for your guests. Your family and friends are more likely to stay longer at your party if they have a comfortable seat. For large parties, select outdoor sectionals, while traditional outdoor seating can work for smaller groups.

2. Set up different entertaining areas
If you want your guests to enjoy your entire backyard space, set up different entertaining areas. For example, place your patio bistro sets in one area and your firepit on the other end of your outdoor space.

3. Use craft paper as a tablecloth
For a casual outdoor party, use craft paper as your tablecloth. It's a no-fuss option that makes the cleanup process a breeze. Additionally, the brown hue of the paper can be a nice decor touch for a rustic shindig.

4. Mix and match your china
Don't worry about having a matching flatware set when entertaining outdoors. Mix and match your china for an eclectic tablescape. Style tip: Even though you aren't matching your flatware, stick to complementary hues and patterns.

5. Pick up an umbrella
Patio umbrellas are a necessary part of an outdoor living space. If you're having a party during the day, the sun's rays can be too strong for your guests to truly enjoy themselves. An umbrella provides shade and helps protect people from the harmful effect of extreme sun exposure.

6. Keep food simple
If you are hiring a caterer, you don't have to worry about the food. However, when you are cooking the meal on your own, you may feel pressured to pull out all the stops. Not every backyard party requires chef-level cuisine. All you have to do is provide simple food that is prepared well. For example, a light chicken and pasta dish that is made with fresh ingredients can wow your guests even though it's simple to create.

7. Skip a tablecloth on windy days
You may think rain is the only weather issue that can ruin a party, however, wind can be a troublemaker too. Don't cancel your outdoor party plans on a windy day – instead, make some adjustments. For example, don't place a tablecloth on your table, as it can catch in the wind and knock things over. 

Incorporate influences from your travels into your decor

World travelers tend to become influenced by the range of interior design styles they see in the countries they visit. By working the decor from your jet-setting into your home, you can showcase the wealth of the world's creativity. Here are some tips for incorporating influences from your travels into your home design:

The easiest way to work design influences from your travels into your home is to start with color. When traveling, look around at the colors of fruit and vegetables you see in the markets. If you are visiting the locals, look at the architecture of their homes. Additionally, pay attention to the color of the furnishings and how it compares to the hues on the walls and in the artwork.

Take a look at the outdoor living spaces in the various countries you visit. How do they take advantage of their rooms and use it to create an inviting atmosphere? Do they prefer large outdoor sectionals or smaller patio bistro sets? The former gives enough seating space for a lot of people, however, the latter provides a more intimate entertaining space.

When it comes to home accents, you don't have to mimic the look of accessories –  you can just bring them home from your travels! Pick up a new home accessory every time you head to a new country. Stay away from tourist shops and head into artisanal boutiques, where you can find some decorative vases, blankets, artwork and more to showcase your worldly style in your home.

By country
Here are some specific examples of how a country can influence your interior design:

Spain – Spanish design has tons of earth tones worked into the decor. Opt for brown furnishings with red, yellow and orange accents. The artwork often consists of images featuring senoritas and matadors.

Morocco – Moroccan interior design has lots of jewel tones like red, blue, silver and gold in the decor. Additionally, it has uniquely shaped lamps with curved lines and chic embellishments. Fixtures like these would be a great addition to a living room or bedroom.

Sweden – Scandinavian decor is often streamlined and simplistic. Study their unique spaces when you visit and incorporate some of their design elements into your home. For example, many of spaces in Sweden have light color themes for an airy and fresh look. This would be a great style to work into your bedroom, living room or even outdoor dining area.

Survey shows upscale backyards are on the rise

Nowadays, a home's living space is being extend to the backyard. Simple patios are being revamped to feature upscale accommodations that focus on entertaining and comfort. According to MSN, 48 percent of 600 residential architecture firms questioned in a survey revealed upscale landscaping is on the rise, in a study conducted by the American Institute of Architects.

"When you extend your living space outside, suddenly you have so much more space for living in general," Michelle Kodis, author of "Ultimate Backyard," told the source. "If you want to raise the value of your home, start thinking about ways to add structural interest and comfort to your backyard, patio, deck, side yard – you name it."

Here are some must-have features for a modern outdoor living area:

Summer kitchens
Outdoor kitchens aren't a fad, they are trend that is here to stay. Kitchens are a natural gathering space in any home, and you add extra entertaining space by creating this outdoor cooking area. Go further than just bringing a grill into your backyard – have a contractor install a sink, counter and bar area. Then all you need are patio dining chairs and a table to complete your outdoor kitchen.

Water features
The sound of running water can be therapeutic for many people. Additionally, the look of a water feature adds more style to your backyard. So consider adding a fountain or pond in your outdoor space. A waterfall fountain will add lavish touch to your a garden space while a pond can be home to a variety of exotic fish. It can also be a conversation starter when you have guests over for dinner parties.

Lounging zones
Don't limit yourself to one lounge space in your backyard. Create different seating areas outside your home to mimic the flow in your indoor living space. Outdoor sectionals can be added to your main gathering space while a smaller patio bistro set is perfect for a cozy nook in your backyard. Place a patio hammock near your flower garden for a space to unwind after a long day. You can install a patio umbrella near a sunny spot for some coverage.

Outdoor fireplaces
It can be chilly in the evening, so add an outdoor fireplace keep your guests warm. Firepits can be installed in the center of your backyard space for a communal gathering spot. However, opting for a fireplace that is built into your home provides a luxurty element and saves space in your backyard.