Friday, August 7, 2009

let's rethink your patio / outdoor space

I realize you may think it’s a little late in the game to talk patios and outdoor spaces. However, I think this is exactly the right time to talk about it.

Now, I know there are lots of you out there sheepishly hanging on to your old patio sets, thinking it’s ok, because they are tucked away in your backyard. Sorry to break the news to you, but it’s time to let that old, plastic, oval table and chairs go. I’m sure they’ve served you well…they are plastic, easy to clean and you don’t care what happens to them when they are left outside in all types of weather. I know. And I get it.

Still – let them go. Really.

There is a big wide world of wonderful outdoor furniture waiting for you. There are a lot of styles and price points to choose from. And the best part? EVERYTHING is on sale now. It’s the very best time to buy new stuff…you can still get some enjoyment out of it now and it will still feel new and exciting when you bust it all out again in the spring.

The key is to stop thinking about your patio as the collection place for “who cares?” kind of pieces. I know you love your home, and you take pride in what it looks like on the inside. You put considerable time into choosing furniture and accessories for each room. Please, please, please start thinking about your patios, decks and outdoor spaces in the same way.

Treat this space as an extension to your home. What you can do with this extra / new found space is amazing.

The first step is to really consider what you want to do in your outdoor space…bbq? eat? lounge in the sun or shade? curl up in a comfy chair and read? play games with the family? entertain? Plan to create specific zones for each activity. Careful furniture placement will go a long way here, so don't forget to measure your space and take a tape measure with you when you go shopping.

Next, start looking around and choose a style that you like. Consider the design style of the inside of your home and choose something that goes well with it. This will ensure your style flows well from inside to outside. In most cases you can see your outside space from different vantage points on the inside, so some sort of cohesion is key.

Check out the big box stores…designers have been telling us to extend our living space to the outdoors for a few years now, but we’ve really only started listening. Thankfully, by now the big box stores have caught up, so there is no need to buy crazy expensive stuff to have nice stuff. Let’s face it, the reality is that we have a relatively short season and some hard winters. But that’s no reason to ignore some of the most precious and most often under-used spaces in our homes.

Home Depot, Rona, Canadian Tire, Winners and the good ‘ol Atlantic SuperStore have some very stylish options. We’ve come a long way in terms of combining durability, functionality and style in outdoor furniture. Whether you choose teak or eucalyptus woods, resin wicker, aluminum…etc, you’ll find these babies can withstand the wear and tear of our climate.

Don’t forget to add in a few, well-chosen accessories. Outdoor fabrics are not what they used to be. They are comfy, cushy and look great. Think cushions, curtains, or small canopies. Consider a couple of lovely planters that work well with your new furniture to hold a few plants, flowers, veggies/ herbs or other greenery. Remember to grab some solar lights too, to add a bit of mood lighting and to make an inviting space that will draw you outside after dark. There are lots on the market – and best of all, they won’t increase your energy consumption.

Think about extending the season and enjoying your newly fabulous space much earlier and later than your neighbours by investing in a table top or free standing propane heater. They have come way down in price over the last year or two and are well worth it!

Snap up your goodies now, while you see those “on sale”, “discount”, and “summer clearance” signs. Everyone loves a good sale, don’t they? You will never get a better deal.

But act fast…within the next two weeks or so, it will all be gone and you’ll be left hiding your sad, old stuff again next season.

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