Stylish settings extend living space to the yard


Chilling on a comfy, deep cushioned lounger. Sipping a mojito from your fully stocked bar while the rhythmic sound from your wall-mounted water fountain calmly soothes your nerves. This is not a dream. It’s full-scale, luxury living in your own back yard.

“We spend more time outside with our families in the summer,” says Jennifer Sypeck, director of product trends at Smith & Hawken. “Luxury is no longer qualified by dollars and cents. Time is luxury. Spending time at home, enjoying life is a real treasure.”

A patio, porch or deck is the perfect setting for an elegant outdoor retreat. If you don’t have a defined area, note the stylish backyard tents showcased in local home stores. The meshed, lacelike side panels are reminiscent of Hollywood glamour days. The mesh panels also will protect you from mosquitoes.

“A stylish tent or gazebo can define the space of your outdoor retreat,” says Jen King, spokeswoman for The Home Depot. “They can be placed on the lawn, deck or patio. The perfect escape. A sanctuary at home.”

Once you’ve determined your space, it’s time to decorate.

“People want the same comfort and luxury outdoors as they have indoors,” says Ginger Johnson, national sales and marketing manager for Gloster, a casual furniture company. The idea of an outdoor retreat is an entertaining way to extend the living space of your home.

“Once the rich and famous have it, we all want it,” says Johnson.

Deep-cushioned, oversize wicker pieces have taken the place of traditional straight-back iron benches, she says. Outdoor table lamps, floor lamps and oversize clocks – pieces you normally would see in your family room – now are made to withstand the outdoors.

Today’s fabrics have stepped up to the outdoor challenge as well.

Weatherproof, durable fabrics (Sunbrella, Shuford and Quaker) are easy to clean. They come in just about any pattern or print, says Johnson. Not only are they beautiful, but they’re family-friendly.

In the past two years, patio rugs have upgraded from synthetic, polyester, plastic weaves to plush, toe-dipping, “loop-styled” fabrics.

“The newer rugs look like they came off your living room floor,” says Sypeck. “Visually, they soften the area and ground the furniture, defining a wonderful conversation area.”

For the latest in outdoor luxury, Open Air Designs has developed fine-art reproduction pieces called Weather Print. With ultraviolet ink digitally printed directly to an aluminum composite, they can withstand outside elements for up to five years.

“We protect the inks with a clear UV coating, then fold the aluminum back to make it look like a stretched canvas piece of art,” says Jason Kubach, vice president of Open Air Designs. “Each print comes with a mounting bracket and stainless-steel hardware. Perfect for outdoor art lovers.”

Here are a few outdoor retreat tips:

– Make sure fabrics are all-weather and fade-resistant.

– If you choose an electric lamp, make sure it’s sturdy enough to withstand outside weather.

– Don’t allow your outdoor space to become a catch-all for baseball bats and muddy shoes.

– Check all the small print. Don’t buy anything for the outside that you’d have to run and gather at the slightest hint of rain.