April 23, 2012
By Glen Peloso
How fantastic that spring has arrived and we are on the precipice of summer and all of its delights. It is without a doubt that we all are longing to get outside and enjoy the weather. I can remember when every backyard had a picnic table and perhaps an umbrella if the household was a little more well off. We just put the picnic table under a tree and were shaded that way.
Now it seems that the backyard isn’t complete unless it has a full complement of furniture that essentially mirrors the rooms and furnishings of our homes. I have said in the past that it makes good sense to have the eating area closest to the house to facilitate the movement of food to the table, to have a family room halfway down the garden which may have a couple of outdoor love seats, or a sectional sofa and a coffee table and perhaps in the back of the garden, a single chair or perhaps two so that one can sit on their own with a book or paper and a glass of wine. That is likely the best way to make use of the outdoor space unless you have a pool in which case you will also have some space for loungers to soak in the sun. Back in the era of picnic tables, there was no discussion of sun screen which seems to permeate the outdoor experience now, and there was little to change except for perhaps :give the old’ picnic table a coat of paint or stain.
Now that we are enjoying the yard in a whole new way, we also have the need to be able to change up the look and feel year by year. It doesn’t mean that you need to rush out and buy a whole new set of furnishings, which could cost you from several hundreds of dollars to many thousands. You have the option of being able to augment what you already have. On a practical level, you may want to consider adding heating. There are many firepits available that may look as though they are a small campfire even though they are gas driven, but there are also many outdoor fireplaces that can be hung on the fence or much more modern glass cylinders that may have an architectural twisted flame. If you don’t want to have an open flame, there are many people who purchase overhead heat sources so that they are able to extend the season in the great outdoors. There are propane-fuelled units as well as infrared heaters and both can work well in terms of keeping the space warm enough to enjoy for a month on both ends of the summer. In our climate, those additional months can really make a difference.
“This year’s interesting trend colours are found in pinks, yellow golds, navy to azure blues and most certainly orange.”
The next thing you may want to adjust year by year is the colours that are used to accent the area. This year’s interesting trend colours are found in pinks, yellow golds, navy to azure blues and most certainly orange. If you are going to add some throw pillows to the space and may want to change them again next year, then consider getting some outdoor pillow inserts and covering them with an outdoor fabric. Check with your fabric store to select the right kinds of fabrics, resistant to moisture and mildew and mould. You can choose to change the fabrics on the sofa and chair cushions, however that can be slightly more complex and expensive. If you do choose to make a change in that area, then I would consider staying with a neutral palette like grey or cream and look for fabrics that also have a strong pattern. If you are looking to be more fashion-forward then you may want to consider complex fabrics that have an international appeal. Often with this look, one is perfectly certain that the fabrics were purchased on a vacation to destinations like Europe, or a variety of African countries. The “folk” feel makes the fabrics on trend. The safest choice may be a tone-on-tone patterned grey or a black and white combination that would allow those fabrics to work for presumably a number of years to come.
One of the elements that I have always loved in terms of the feeling and elegance it offers the yard, is white or off-white soft drapers. These can work to reduce the amount of bugs that may be present for an outdoor meal; they can soften the amount of light and perhaps reduce your exposure to the sun. I really love the idea of draperies that surround decks or covered areas, even if the draperies are hung around the posts and tied back. The feeling of being in an exotic island, looking over the sea as the breeze billows the drapes is appealing even if you are in the backyard on a warm evening.
If you are hoping to leave things essentially as they are but still want to inject some colour and detail, then I would consider colourful elements like candles, placemats and napkins or even colourful acrylic stemware to add a pop of excitement to the table. We certainly are no longer thinking about faux finishes and dad’s old chair–and it’s always nice to get outside in style.
Glen Peloso, design editor at Home Décor and Renovations and principal designer of Glen Peloso Interiors, has been designing spaces for commercial, corporate and residential clients for more than 15 years. You’ll recognize Glen as the host of such television design shows as Restaurant Makeover, Take This House & Sell It and Renovate My Wardrobe, to name a few, as well as from speaking engagements at home shows across Canada. glenpelosointeriors.com