Eye-Catching Accents to Elevate Your Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor Furniture by Ballard Designs

These seven spaces show how the right fabrics, furniture and accessories can make outdoor areas as comfortable as any room inside the house—inviting family and friends to hang out all day.

Design by Anne Architecture
Design by Anne Architecture, Photography by Djaren Photography

Cozy and Inviting

This porch space created by Anne Architecture has the cozy look and feel of a living room, which is exactly what homeowner, Jennifer Froneberger, was going for. The striped curtains pull everything together and frame the area. “When the curtains are closed, it looks like a painted wall,” says Froneberger. For a fresh look, swap out cushions, pillows, and rugs in any combination, but make sure the biggest investment in the room is in the quality and design of the couch, since that is not easily replaced. www.annearchitecture.com

 

Modern and Chic

With a sophisticated black-and-white umbrella and mimosa party-themed bar cart, designer Beth Kooby focused on creating an elegant resort-theme for this sitting area. You can easily create your own custom bar cart by buying a vintage brass one and taking it to an auto body shop to repaint. Teak wood, which is perfect for outdoors, was used for the dining table and enhanced with tabletop accents. “I love using unexpected things, like sculptures or large candles in glass hurricane containers,” says Kooby. www.bethkoobydesign.com

Beth Kooby Outdoor Space

 

Double Duty

Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs, Inc. aimed to create spaces that were fun and functional during warmer months and relaxing when the temperature drops. “We wanted to make enjoyable spaces for the entire family for nine to ten months of the year,” says designer Kelly Kole. The key to making an outdoor area pop is color. The brightly hued furniture pictured here makes each space look playful. The addition of greenery/flowers and accessories such as trays add interest and fill open space. www.kandrac-kole.com

A decorated porch with curtains a swing and picnic table

 

 

A pool side set up with two wicker chairs and a bar cart

 

Pool Party

The retro-inspired detailing of the cast aluminum Amalfi Chaise Lounge from Ballard Designs coupled with the sunshine-yellow cushions makes this sitting area the focal point of the pool. These statement pieces along with the stylish sun umbrella gives the area the feel of an adults-only retreat versus a place for family fun. www.ballarddesigns.com

Ballard Designs Umbrella and Yellow Lounge Chair Set

Tips for Selecting Fabric and Flooring for Outdoor Living

Outdoor Furniture by Ballard Designs
Outdoor Furniture and Rug by Ballard Designs

Picking appropriate textiles for a space exposed to Mother Nature is key to having pieces that will look great long-term. Marla Garrett, vice president of Fabric & Fringe Warehouse, offers her advice:

  • Synthetic fibers like polyester and acrylic provide better durability against the elements.
  • Outdoor fabrics are measured in “light hours,” which is the amount of time they can receive direct sun before starting to fade. A good number to look for is between 1,200 and 1,500 hours.
  • To prolong the color of outdoor fabrics, be sure to bring them inside when not in use, or use a cover to prevent direct sunlight exposure.

Durability is the first thing that comes to mind when choosing flooring for the outdoors, but maintenance is just as important. Elisabeth Stubbs, co-owner of  Enhance Floors & More, offers the following advice:

  • Porcelain tile is the recommended choice for outdoor areas because it is resistant to freezing.
  • Make sure to go with a tile that has texture and slip resistance. Plus, bigger tiles (18×18) are the way to go—it means less grout!
  • Acrylic or epoxy grouts are best for outdoor tile, since they do not need to be sealed like cement-based groups.
  • For something more economical, try outdoor carpet. No, it doesn’t all look like Astroturf.
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