Winter’s finally over (we swear!) so, across the country, it’s time get in gear and get your deck, yard or patio in shape for summer. “These spaces really take a hit over the winter,” says Sandy Koepke, the interior and garden designer who knows a little something about the outdoors (she’s based in SoCal, after all). “That’s what spring’s all about—renewal.”
Take inventory… literally and figuratively. Now’s the time to look at your yard or deck with fresh eyes; “this is an opportunity to shake things up a little bit,” she says. “If you put your furniture away, drag it out and rearrange it.” Ask yourself “What worked last summer, and what still works?” If pieces were starting to give out—and winter hasn’t done them any favors—consider an upgrade. Give everything (furniture, grill, fire pit, hammock stands, umbrellas, lanterns) a once-over for rust, which may look industrial and vintage-y, but is the enemy of outdoor stuff.
Add on. “There are so many things you can do that aren’t costly,” she says. Start with colorful pillows, battery candles, good-looking planters, or a birdbath—“they’re all small things but, cumulatively, they add a lot of charm.” Figure out what you need to make entertaining easier. Do you need more guest seating or just a place to sit and read? Snap up cute, stackable chairs or a lounger or hammock. Drag out your cushions and dust or wash them. If they’re faded or moldy, trade them in for sun-proof fabrics; Koepke favors solution-dyed acrylics. A cute table next to your grill holds plates and cooking utensils. Think easy-clean enamel, or top a wooden table with a large (washable) tray.
Create coziness. “You have no walls (usually) or ceiling, so use some fencing, trellis, pots in tall holders, or strings of lights to give the illusion of a room-like enclosure,” Koepke says, “so you feel a little protected, and it’s more intimate.” Also, the new crop of “cool, good-looking outdoor rugs” can anchor a seating or dining area.
Brighten up. “You don’t want to floodlight the area,” Koepke says. “Layer and assemble your lighting like you would in a room.” Mix strings of lights in trees, ground lighting, and chandeliers (make sure all are listed as safe for outdoor use) she says. Add an outdoor fireplace for cozy ambience, and, of course, roasting marshmallows.
Reset your table. For an easy-chic way to switch up your alfresco style, combine casual linens with outdoor-friendly centerpieces. “I’ve collected stacks of napkins and old Bakelite napkin rings to mix and match,” Koepke says. “I like a long tablecloth that’s funked up with fresh potted plants.” Pick weatherproof or unbreakable materials like terracotta, galvanized metal, enamel or wire. Says Koepke: “I have a wire holder for French milk bottles that I put on the table with a Gerbera daisy in each bottle.”
Want to get your design inspiration going? Check out our “Outdoor Style” sales, starting Sunday, Mar. 16th, at 9 p.m.: from essentials and luxuries for alfresco dining, to the backyard, to lounging by the pool, there are a range of styles for a plethora of types.
– Maria Ricapito