Don’t com­pro­mise be­cause it’s out­side

Pa­tio trends: Con­trast and un­ex­pected fab­rics are in

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - SPECIAL REPORT: TOP -

For decades, “out­door dec­o­rat­ing” meant ar­rang­ing a few nice chairs and a ta­ble near a bar­be­cue, then adding an um­brella. But as pa­tios and decks have mor­phed into “out­door liv­ing rooms,” the bar has risen for out­door style and com­fort.

HGTV De­sign Star judge Vern Yip says he knew we’d reached a new level of out­door dec­o­rat­ing this year when he dis­cov­ered a fully up­hol­stered, tufted, Ch­ester­field-style sofa de­signed for out­door use. It’s not a less com­fort­able, back­yard ver­sion of a clas­sic piece of fur­ni­ture; it’s a clas­sic piece of fur­ni­ture that hap­pens to be weather-proof.

Tech­nol­ogy has come so far, Yip says, that we can now have any­thing out­doors that we like in­doors.

As warm weather re­turns, we’ve asked Yip and two other ex­perts — in­te­rior de­signer Betsy Burn­ham of Burn­ham De­sign in Los An­ge­les, and Sarah Fish­burne, direc­tor of trend and de­sign for The Home De­pot — for the fur­nish­ings, colour pal­ettes and ac­ces­sories they are us­ing to make out­door spa­ces even more lux­u­ri­ous and invit­ing.

Mix and match It’s been decades since peo­ple shopped for a “suite of fur­ni­ture” for a bed­room or liv­ing room. But un­til re­cently, Burn­ham says, that’s been a com­mon ap­proach to out­door space. That’s slowly chang­ing, she says, as peo­ple want a more in­ter­est­ing look that doesn’t seem lifted di­rectly from a sin­gle cat­a­logue page.

De­sign­ers are en­cour­ag­ing clients to mix and match. Fish­burne says re­tail­ers have no­ticed this trend.

At Home De­pot, her de­sign team se­lects a few shades and makes sure they are con­sis­tent through­out the fur­ni­ture of­fered that sea­son. So “chili red,” for ex­am­ple, will be the same shade if you buy a rug from one brand and pil­lows from an­other.

And rather than hav­ing to buy a group of four or six iden­ti­cal dining chairs, Fish­burne says many chairs are now avail­able in sets of two that can be paired with a con­trast­ing style. There are also more out­door styles avail­able than ever.

Alu­minum-frame fur­ni­ture is back. “It’s the sort of stuff your grand­par­ents used to have, but the 2.0 ver­sion,” Yip says. “The pro­por­tions are what we like to­day, deeper and big­ger and more com­fort­able.”

If you’re wor­ried about how to mix and match suc­cess­fully, try one of these ap­proaches: You can mix fur­ni­ture frames, per­haps us­ing a few teak pieces along­side metal or wo­ven resin pieces, and then keep all the cush­ions or pil­lows the same. Or you can use all metal or all resin frames from dif­fer­ent brands and mix up the pil­lows and cush­ions. Ei­ther way, you have con­sis­tency and a unique look that isn’t ex­actly the same as your neigh­bour’s.

don’t set­tle “If you had put an out­door sofa and in in­door sofa side by side in front of a con­sumer a year ago or two years ago,” Yip says, no one would have had trou­ble pick­ing out which was which. To­day, he says, “you re­ally can’t tell the dif­fer­ence.”

So take time to shop for what you love, rather than set­tling for typ­i­cal out­door fur­ni­ture you see ev­ery­where. There are out­door fab­rics that feel as soft as what you’d ex­pect in­doors and cush­ions that are just as soft and deep. Yip says the new­est out­door cush­ions of­fer two lay­ers of foam and then a top layer made of a down al­ter­na­tive.

Seek “that su­per-plush feel­ing with your out­door fur­ni­ture that you’re used to feel­ing with your in­door fur­ni­ture,” he says.

Start with your favourite in­te­rior de­sign re­tail­ers. They’re likely to of­fer out­door op­tions.

“It’s not just at the pa­tio store any­more,” says Burn­ham. For ex­am­ple, she says, De­sign Within Reach and Restora­tion Hard­ware both of­fer wide selec­tions of out­door fur­nish­ings.

Seek next-level de­tails Out­door stor­age has be­come even more in­ven­tive: You’ll find “con­sole ta­bles that have built-in cool­ers, or daybeds that have built-in cool­ers,” Yip says.

And out­door ac­ces­sories have “de­tail­ing and em­bel­lish­ments that used to be re­served for in­door stuff,” Yip says, in­clud­ing hur­ri­cane lanterns with mother-of-pearl de­tail­ing and pil­lows with feath­ers, bead­ing or em­broi­dery.

“We’ve fig­ured out how to have all this de­tail­ing, all this em­bel­lish­ment,” he says, and “how to have it on the out­side, so it does en­dure and it does last.”

To de­fine your out­door space and bring in plants and flow­ers, Fish­burne rec­om­mends large “state­ment planters.” They come pre-planted with a mix of plants that look stylish and grow well to­gether.

Most im­por­tant: Go for a look you love, rather than one that’s per­fectly co-or­di­nated.

“All the rules have kind of been bro­ken,” says Fish­burne. “No one says you have to have a match­ing cock­tail ta­ble in front of your chairs.”


A pa­tio area in Los An­ge­les de­signed by Burn­ham of Burn­ham de­sign. rather than a set of match­ing out­door fur­nish­ings, de­sign­ers are en­cour­ag­ing clients to mix and match a va­ri­ety of styles and brands.


A rus­tic daybed on a pa­tio de­signed by Burn­ham.

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