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June 12, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2012 issue
The Summer living room
Words: Marise Pace
It’s that glorious time of year again. It’s time to set up that terrace or balcony and get it ready for many hours of summer entertaining, and more importantly, lounging. Do you have all the furnishings to make your terrace just fabulous? If so, it’s time to pull them out. Give all your cushion covers a wash, scrub down your wooden furniture, and you may want to give your metal furniture a fresh coat of paint too and if your planters are bare, head to the nursery and get some new ones.
Remember to treat your terrace as another room – like another living room… an outdoor one. Having a living room is a must for every home for it is where guests are being entertained. But some homes have more than just a living room. Many also have a balcony or terrace where they have a separate seating area. Others choose to have an outdoor living room which is even more relaxing than an indoor one. What makes an outdoor living room truly tranquil is the natural environment around it. Who wouldn’t like to have a place where you can raise your feet, nurse a drink, read a nice book and deeply feel the true meaning of relaxation.
If you are planning to have an outdoor living room but do not know how to get started, allow me to guide you. Let me give you some tips on how to design an outdoor living space. It is quite similar to designing one indoors but there are lots of things to take into consideration. Take a look at the following tips.
DETERMINE THE SIZE OF YOUR SPACE
You will need to have an idea of the size of the outdoor area to know if the kind of design you want is achievable. You should also think about the layout. Determining these two factors will help you decide what you can place there and even what functions they may have. It will also make shopping for the right items easier.
LET IT COMPLEMENT WITH YOUR HOME’S DESIGN
Your outdoor living room will look more appropriate if you let it harmonise with your home’s design. Aim to have the indoor design connect with what you have outside. Th is will create a sense of harmony and make it look more inviting and part of the house even if it is located outside.
Of course, the above applies if you have an adjacent balcony or terrace, but if your outside area is located next to a pool or is not so visible from the inside of the house, you can also go for a totally different theme.
CHOOSE PROPER FURNISHINGS
As it will be placed outside, you can make use of furniture that is weather resistant like synthetic rattan, aluminium and other similar materials. Choose colours you that complement your indoor furnishings. You can go wild with fabric here, as it is this that gives outdoor living rooms that magic touch. Make sure also that the sizes are right for your available space…there is nothing worse than a huge sofa on a tiny balcony!
CONSIDER NATURAL ELEMENTS
Don’t forget natural elements such as prevailing winds and sun orientation when designing your outdoor living room. This way, you can be sure that the area will not be too hot especially during when you intend to use it. There are some really cool awnings on the market, and I am not talking about striped canvas.
HAVE GOOD LANDSCAPING
When it comes to landscaping be sure to create one that is in harmony with the interior and architectural design style. The use of plants and lights can make your outdoor living room a great place to stay. For example, if your kitchen leads to the terrace, why not grow a herb garden? You don’t have to have green fingers to keep rosemary alive in pots (tried and tested) and it’s nice to use fresh herbs from your own little garden while grilling on a bbq.
Even your outdoor living room needs good lighting. Funky plastic pots that light up, are great for plants or as I like to do, as really cool drink holders. Fill them with ice, place a couple of bottles and you have a really cool feature. Use lanterns, fairy lights and candles. Mix and match them. You have no idea how many items you already own that can be turned into candle holders. Use solar lights to light up trees. Lighting is one of the easiest (and sometimes least-expensive) ways to cast an enchanting spell on any outdoor space.
GIVE IT SOME PRIVACY
Well, it doesn’t mean that just because it is located outside, your outdoor living room cannot have some privacy. You can do that by placing a trellis fence or plant tall wedges around it. It can also add beauty to the entire seating area… and who says you cannot use a nice light fabric too, but be careful when using candles.
HAVE A COVERED AREA
Consider providing a shelter to shield you from heat and rain. Use umbrellas, gazebos, awnings, and pergolas to create a more intimate ambiance. Your guests will surely love to see an outdoor living room like yours away from the sun’s heat and from the rain.
CONSIDER YOUR BUDGET
Before you actually start creating your outdoor living room, look at your budget. If your budget is tight, do not worry, there are many of items you can find in shops that do not cost a lot. You could also revamp what you already own. I’m sure loads of you have a bamboo armchair, which has been gracing your garage for ages, give it a good clean, spray it in white and recover the cushions in a fabulous fabric… trust me, it will become your favourite summer piece. You can also cover balcony tiles with synthetic turf, glue some glass pebbles onto pots with a hot gun and buy plants in bloom to add a splash of colour… viola, your outdoor terrace is already taking shape.