BY KATHERINE WALDEN
How to plan a wonderful outdoor room
It’s time to take the action outside! Spring is here. Yards are in bloom. Gardeners are busy replanting those pots that looked so sad all winter, and the grill has been cleaned for the next cookout. Whether your outdoor living space is the lanai, the porch, the deck, or the patio, it can be just as attractive and well-decorated as any room inside your house.
Outdoor furniture has come a long way from uncomfortable aluminum and plastic chairs that usually lasted only one summer. Cast aluminum furniture is manufactured to replicate old cast iron in all of the traditional patterns or in smart contemporary styles to accommodate any taste; a vast selection is available at Bert Maxwell Furniture Company in Macon and at Middle Georgia Pool Supply in Warner Robins. Durable wicker-style seating and tables, (which are actually made of vinyl woven around metal frames), can be found in colors that never need painting. The new generation of canvas fabrics is user friendly, soft to the touch, and comfortable. The patterns and hues are smart, colorfast, and durable enough to withstand multiple cleanings throughout the summer months without fading. These miracle fabrics—and the cushions they cover—dry quickly, so there is no need to bring them inside each time it rains. Living outside is more fun than ever.
The South is home to mosquitoes and gnats, so planning outdoor activities without these uninvited guests is a challenge. Screened porches are the most practical solution, but ceiling fans on covered porches or awnings suspended from the framework of canvas can deter the pesky nuisances. Outdoor decorative candles and those permeated with natural pesticide are on the shelves at local hardware stores including Karsten-Densen on Ingleside Avenue. They work best when placed on the floor where those unseen ankle-biters lurk! Weatherproof standing fans can move the air and disturb the flight patterns of these microscopic bombardiers. Now that you have a solution for insects, you can focus on comfort and wowing family and guests with your decor.
If you use your outdoor space a lot at night, lighting is an important component to comfort. Nothing is more distracting and downright annoying than the glare of light in your face. Use indirect lighting since this normally is not the room used for night reading. Wall- or post-mounted fixtures which cast light up or down not only create an inviting ambience, but also be directed for emphasis on your accessories. Wall sculptures or planters overflowing with seasonal plants can be over or under these lights. Small waterproof lights planted in the ground around a fountain create a halo of light for a focal point on your patio.
If you have installed an in-ground pool, the pool lights make a dramatic statement in your living space. Forego the light kits on ceiling fans. They cast an eerie light, which is not complimentary to those who might sit under it and are a lazy solution to outdoor lighting. Surround your seating area in ground-mounted lights or tuck them under shrubbery to wrap the area in a warm glow. Use candles on the dining table and on side tables for even more drama.
Defining the Space
There are now outdoor area rugs you can use for defining a seating area, covering up unattractive masonry, or for textural interest to complete and augment a color scheme. Rugs that can survive outdoors look like natural or synthetic fibers normally seen inside the house. However, they are loomed from extruded acrylic material, which does not absorb moisture. Jump out of the pool, and keep your feet cool on the rug. Wet feet will do no harm.
Just as rugs have become a popular accessory for the ‘outdoor room’, the classic canvas draperies serve to wrap a porch in color or privacy. Tie them back to the supporting posts ,or drop them down if the neighbors aren’t as conscientious about making their backyard an interesting auxiliary living space. Don’t know where to find them? Try Macon Tent and Awning. They have the latest patterns in colorfast canvas for entire enclosures or draperies. Or just for the romance of it, try gauze. voile, or organza draperies.
Cooking up Fun
Instead of crowding around the television in the den to catch your favorite golfers or cheer for the Atlanta Braves, bring the avid fans outside by suspending a flat screen under a porch or an awning. If security is a concern, have it enclosed in a wall-mounted shallow cabinet that can be locked when not in use.
The coal-fired or gas grill has become a fixture in the South, but in the last few years, outdoor kitchens have become a must-have for families that spend their leisure time outside. If you do not want an ambitious second kitchen to maintain, an outdoor kitchen can be as compact as a hotel efficiency unit—grill and small sink on top and drink cooler installed underneath.
An entire industry has sprung up around outdoor living. If you visit Creter’s on Ingleside Avenue or other home furnishing stores, you will see beautiful outdoor table cloths and decorative items. It is time to decorate your outdoor room and make this a memorable summer. #