The days are getting deliciously longer, temperatures are climbing, and the backyard barbecue invites are just pouring in. The seasons, they are a-changin'—and as we swing into summer, there's no better time to give your outdoor space a boost.
"This year it's really about making your outdoor space function like an interior space for all things fun, lounging, and entertaining," says San Diego interior designerGretchen Kennelly.
Read on for designers' top tips to harness the year's hottest design trends and really maximize your pad's outdoor potential.
1. Outdoor 'rooms'
Photo by Shuler Architecture Now more than ever, designers say, homeowners want their indoor spaces to blend seamlessly with the great outdoors.
Your main goal is to find ways to bring the inside out: Frame sitting areas with water- and mildew-resistant curtains. Anchor furniture with outdoor rugs. And fill tall planters with low-maintenance ornamental grasses to create the illusion of walled space.
If you have a covered deck or patio, consider covering the ceiling in raw, untreated wood planks to warm things up. And mount wall sconces to add mood lighting for those late-evening glasses of rosé.
Kennelly also likes to place large daybed pieces in an outdoor space and position cabanas over them for shade.
"This creates a great place to retreat and lounge with a glass of wine at the end of a long day," she says.
And if space (or your budget) is tight, try this trick from designerChristina Harmon: Grab a rope hammock on Amazon, decorate it with outdoor pillows and a pretty throw, and "voilà—it's an automatic pop-up outdoor area for under $300," she says.
2. Innovative new fabrics
Photo by Sofas by Design For years, Sunbrella's been the Old Faithful of outdoor fabrics; you can do pretty much anything to it and it bounces right back.
But there are a lot of other great options out there, Harmon points out. She likes polyester terrycloth, which "looks like a towel, but is totally made to be used outdoors."
We've "reached a new level this season with outdoor furniture that looks and feels just like indoor furniture," saysDeborah Holt, a marketing manager with Sunnyland Outdoor Furniture in Dallas.
Don't want to spring for new furniture? Check outNeverwet, which comes in a spray can and creates a moisture-repelling barrier on a variety of surfaces, including canvas.
"This product is incredible at water-coating virtually any fabric," Harmon says.
3. True-blue (and green) hues
Photo by Johnson Design Inc. Deep blues and greens are the name of the game this season. From cushions to umbrellas to tiles and everything in between, expect to see lots of lush, rich Côte d'Azur-inspired hues.
"This year, it's all about outdoor spaces that feel luxurious rather than cheesy," Harmon says. "Think lots of neutrals coupled with gorgeous, jewel-toned greens and furniture and accessories that create a truly indoor-outdoor vibe."
"The cool factor of concrete works well in many settings, regardless of the age or aesthetic of the home," says South Carolina designerLeigh Meadows-McAlpin, who's particularly fond of the concrete pieces inMr. Brown Home's outdoor collection.
5. Alternative flooring options
Photo by Finch London Outdoor rugs have been a mainstay of exterior design for years, but a new crop of budget-conscious flooring alternatives has emerged to shake things up this season.
For example, porcelain is becoming a new favorite because it's durable, simple to install, and mirrors indoor trends—making it easy to provide visual continuity between inside and outside.
"Porcelain pavers can create this beautiful transition without creating a huge divide between the two living spaces," says Joe Raboine, national design and training specialist with Belgard.
"These tiles are workhorses," she says. "They take 10 minutes max to install, are well-priced, and are of great quality. They're a really inexpensive way to freshen up your patio or balcony without spending a lot of money."
Enter: Vertical gardening, which maximizes available space and affords even small-space dwellers the ability to grow their own herbs and veggies at home.
Add elegance by installing vertical structures such as arbors, arches, pergolas, and gazebos. They'll "help create the ambience of an outdoor garden ‘room' and give a sense of height and depth to an otherwise small space," Raboine says.
"This year is the time to brighten up the exterior of your home in unexpected ways," saysMichael Amato, creative director at the Urban Electric Co.
"If you have an all-white painted brick or stucco home, adding lighting in a fun color like blue with gold hardware creates interest," he suggests. "If your house is already painted a fun color, lighting presents a great opportunity to work in a contrasting color for a striking statement."
Even if you've never heard the term, you've most definitely seen sling furniture. This stuff is made of durable, woven materials and doesn't require frills such as upholstery and cushions—which can be challenging to clean and store away in the winter. It's sleek, streamlined, and easy to maintain.
Sling furniture is "strong, comfortable, and wears well in the sun," saysTina Anastasia, a partner atMark P. Finlay Interiors.
Bonus: "It's come a long way with the technology in the weaving," she says. "It can be bleach-cleaned, is easy to rinse off, and it dries much quicker than cushions."
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