Nothing is as delicious as an outdoor room for summer! Of course, if you live in mosquito country, you are rolling your eyes and thinking about screened-in porches. That's nothing compared to folks who live in gator country and must worry about four-legged critters creeping onto their veranda. Nonetheless, it's time to get creative so you can enjoy whatever outdoor space is available to you.
Some of the most precious real estate in the country exists in the form of elegant high-rise condominium living. Skyscrapers in Chicago, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco and New York offer stunning views of the cityscape and bodies of water. In many cases, a balcony is the only outdoor space offered, even with a $2 million price tag. In general, the higher the floor, the more costly the unit is; and while a penthouse suite might offer larger decks and balconies, most can be shockingly small. The introduction of a texture helps to establish a cozy feeling. Consider seasonal outdoor carpeting. The company FLOR offers carpet tiles or squares that can be installed over a concrete slab. Hundreds of weather-resistant area rugs and runners are on the market — an internet search will reveal plenty of choices.
Another idea is to introduce music and the soothing sound of water. This could be accomplished with a simple tabletop water feature or a larger one that needs installation. These take a bit of patience. While it seems simple enough to fill an electric fountain with water, there are a few other things to keep in mind. First, you must be sure that the fountain will sit on level footing. If your deck or balcony is not level, you will need to do so. Also, blowing debris, such as bits of seeds or pine needles, can clog the filter and affect how the device operates. You must be prepared to keep it clean and in good operating order.
Decorate your patio, deck or balcony with blooming potted plants. Make sure that the pots match or are at least the same color. Nothing is as ugly as an assortment of mismatched plant containers. And remember that less is more in many cases. Keep your arrangements in groups of three or five. If you need inspiration, do a little snooping for ideas on how to group different plant types together. For example, a mix of roses and bird of paradise is incongruent. Bird of paradise would work well with palms or ferns. Plants require the same thought as any other design accessory!
Introduce a little whimsical touch with string lights or a hanging swinging chair, like the one featured. These are great for spots with limited space. Of course, be certain that it is properly supported for the safety of your guests. Most of these rattan hanging chairs need a pillow as well as a seat cushion. This is an opportunity to introduce some bold sassy colors to your outdoor room that you might be reticent to use indoors!
Stacking chairs are another space-saving way to provide seating on a confined patio. And look for a drop-leaf wood table to push up against the house when not in use. These are offered in rectangular and round shapes.
If you need a shade cover, there are options ranging from electric awnings that attach to the fascia of your home, to portable umbrellas, to shade screens that stretch from your home to a fence or a tree. Again, people in insect country have the additional need for netting. The Mosquito Curtains website offers temporary mosquito screens.
Photo Credit: Cranmore Home
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.