Bring the Inside Out
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and winds long to play with your hair.” –Kahli Gibran
This is one of my favorite quotes, because it reminds me of summer when I was little. Those carefree days where I spent every waking moment outside until dusk. My sister and I ate our breakfast outside and had picnics every day. We wanted to feel every minute of the short-lived summer and would reluctantly head into the house when it was dark to wash off the grass stains and dirt from building forts and looking for dinosaur bones. That need and desire to indulge in the warmer days and enjoy every last drop of fresh air and sunshine is still very much alive in me, even as an adult (however my priorities have shifted from searching for ancient fossils to maintaining the yard). And although I don’t build forts anymore, I do enjoy creating fun outdoor spaces that inspire afternoon naps, kicking up your feet and entertaining family and friends. Below are some simple steps you can take to up your outdoor living game and create the ultimate “adult fort.”
The key to creating a cozy space outside is to look at what makes your home comfortable inside. Bring those luxuries out! I’m talking rugs, pillows, blankets, side tables, foot stools...all of these can reside outside with a little planning, organization and clever storage.
When purchasing a rug, look for one that is made for the outdoors, is double-sided (so you can flip it over), and that is a low-maintenance color or print (jute and sisal rugs are a great choice). Outdoor rugs get dirty fast, and you want to able to hose it down with soap and water if need be. Due to fading and use, you’ll likely get a season out of one side; flip it over for season two!
Get yourself a dual-purpose storage bin that is decorative. One that provides storage and additional seating or acts as an additional table for decorative accents like plants and lanterns. This bin is where you’re going to store all of your soft furnishings and items that can’t be out all the time.
If your outdoor living space is an area with no overhead cover, I suggest getting pillows that are made with outdoor, fade and water-resistant fabric. If your space is out of the elements, then you have more options (even down-filled pillows are okay if they’re in a protected area). For added comfort, drape a lightweight cotton or linen throw blanket on your furniture. It’s great to have on hand for chilly nights when you just don’t want to go in yet.
Just as you would have in your living room, make sure you have adequate surfaces for people to park their drinks. Add side tables and a coffee table. There are so many great outdoor options available from teak, to plastic wicker, glass, and resin; these can withstand the elements of summer.
The final layer is where you add the accessories and styling. In my opinion, these little details when in unison will have the most impact. This is where your creativity comes in and you can have fun. Here are some options to get you started:
Add flowers and greenery! To create the ultimate outdoor living space, you need to add plants. It’s a must. I also know that not everyone has the luxury of time to care for a large number of plants (myself included). My dirty secret? Mix faux and real greenery. I’ll invest in some quality faux plants that you’d swear are real. And then I purchase real plants that don’t require a ton of water or pruning. Such a timesaver and looks so lush.
Including accessories and decorations on the coffee table and side tables is what will set your outdoor living area apart. Just like inside, display items like candles (with a cover so water doesn’t get inside), lanterns, magazines, coasters, etc. I love having a small rattan tray on the coffee table, with these items in it. It adds beautiful texture, and also makes it super easy to put in the storage bin if it’s going to rain.
Lastly, if possible, add a few strings of outdoor garden globe lights and plug them into a timer. I promise you, there’s nothing more magical than having those light up the evening sky.
(Featured in Milford Living Magazine, Summer 2019)