We recently spoke with Andrew Bockner, the principal designer of Andrew Richards Designs, an outdoor furniture company, to learn how to get our yards and patios ready for the summer. He kindly shared with us his eight top tips on how to create a gorgeous outdoor living space. Here they are straight from the expert’s mouth:
1. Define your outdoor space: Create “rooms” by simply using outdoor rugs, pavilions, gazebos and various products that provide shading, which will enhance the functionality of the space. You can set up a dining area, a lounging area, and a little kitchenette with your barbecue and an outdoor fridge. A cushion box is a useful item, so that your cushions are kept clean and dry – it can also double as a console when entertaining.
2. Outdoor lighting: Soft lighting can easily warm up an outdoor space and create a relaxing atmosphere. There are a few options to implement soft outdoor lighting, depending on your budget. On the low end, battery operated wax candles are looking more realistic these days – my guests are always fooled! Good ones will cost about $20 to $35 each and they are long lasting and will work in the rain. I find them to be an easy, economical and effective way to bring a nice warm feeling to an outdoor space. Outdoor friendly sconces, LED uplighting and beautiful outdoor lamps have come a long way in recent years and there are some pretty unique and exciting options out there.
3. Add texture to your environment: You can do this using plants and vines, layering organic elements such as bamboo, branches or birch, and creating dividers or fence coverings. Use outdoor fabrics to add colourful textures – you can easily get the look of Dupione silks and chenilles, sailcloths and sheers, even velvet. By adding a fresh colours and textures to older outdoor sets, you can liven up the look of your space, without digging too deep into your wallets.
4. Multi-functional pieces for small spaces: Maximize functionality by rethinking your furniture’s primary functions. For example, cushion boxes can pose as an additional serving buffet surface; or place a cushion on your coffee table so it can double as extra seating. Smaller scale lounge sets are available to fit within a very common 6ft. balcony width. You can dress up your balcony or terrace with faux grass flooring, wood deck tiles and planters. There are also chic and effective narrow dining sets, which are widely popular.
5. Go lounge: If you are working with a small space and are trying to decide whether to use the space for dining or lounging, go with a lounge. You can still create a casual eating setting by raising your coffee table for added comfort when dining. You will get more use with a lounge – relaxing with a book, entertaining and drinks, or just taking a load off after a long day. And if you only have room for one furniture piece, deep seating furniture is the way to go!
6. Mix in a new piece with some of your existing furniture and accessories: I love an eclectic look in garden or terrace. Everything does not have to be a matching set. Inside the house we often mix materials and textures and furniture. From my experience, I feel that people think everything outside has to match, but just like your interior, you want to create interest and reflect your personality. Try mixing things up a little bit. You will be surprised how interesting and attractive your outdoor space can become by mixing in some new with the old and a few accessories and planters.
7. Outdoor heating: Extend your outdoor living by adding some heat. Recently, I found sleek and fashionable heat lamps, as well as outdoor fireplaces, which have really made their way into the scene – and the designs are endless. Small units that run on ethanol are great looking and can really enhance the look of the space for a great price. You can use outdoor throws and blankets using marine-grade Sunbrella fabrics which are practical – and they don’t fade or mildew.
8. Comfort: Your outdoor space should be your sanctuary; a place to enjoy time with your family or on your own. Weekends and beautiful summer days can be enjoyed from the comforts of your own home, as though you have escaped on vacation to a resort or a cottage up north. You can create a resort or cottage feel with your choice of furniture, accessories, appliances, shade products, fabrics, water features and landscaping. For a quick (and no-cost) vacation away, you only need to step into your outdoor space – so, make the best of it this summer and enjoy some outdoor living!
Click here to learn more about Andrew Richard Designs and to shop the collections.