Now that the snow has melted off your patio, it’s time to take inventory and get that lovely space ready for some warm weather enjoyment. Whether you are looking to start from scratch or simply want to update your space, here’s your go-to guide for what’s new, modern and functional for outdoor living this spring.
We turned to Ben Palmer-Ball at Digs to help guide us in this outdoor living refresh. Here are some tips and trends he suggests to get your patio ready:
BLACK AND BLUE
While Ben is a huge proponent of neutral palettes, he has two vignettes in the store now that stand out. One is blue and one is black. Black makes a space more formal, especially with all-black cushions with white piping. The black-and-white light fixture and black-and-white carpet set the tone for a more clean, modern feel.
Blue is a huge trending color in both fashion and decor this season … those two go hand-in-hand in terms of trends. You can use either a stripe or solid blue; this one is a bold blue, not a pastel.
Outside carpets are used primarily for covered patios and sunrooms … places that are not fully exposed to the elements. They offer an ideal way to define a seating group and create a more intimate space.
The newer carpets on the market are made of acrylic material and are waterproof. Though made of synthetic materials, they still feel soft and plush to the touch. However, outdoor carpets need to be maintained, and all floor coverings trap moisture if exposed to it. So it’s important to care for the carpets and keep them dry.
While perusing the book of outdoor fabrics available for Digs’ furniture, I found it hard to believe that they were outdoor fabrics. The options were lush, soft, and some even looked like leather or suede. Key features to look for in outdoor fabric are that they are waterproof and impervious to the elements. In fact, many people use outdoor fabrics for their indoor spaces, especially in areas pets and children frequent. Brown Jordan’s upholstered pieces also have a waterproof layer (like a sack) between the fabric and the inside of the cushion, which makes maintenance minimal.
While most outdoor fabrics claim to be completely waterproof, it’s not ideal for them to be exposed fully to all of nature’s elements. To really keep the furniture in tip-top shape, have it on a covered patio or sunporch.
When shopping for outdoor furniture, it’s important to know your options. For example, Digs carries three main types: aluminum, woven and wood.
Aluminum is the new wrought iron, but lighter and less susceptible to rusting and the elements. It’s very durable and easy to move around. Because it is hard, it needs a cushion on the bottom and possibly for the back as well. Aluminum furniture is considered contemporary and modern and requires the least maintenance of any outdoor furniture.
Woven furniture requires more maintenance, especially if exposed to pollen, dirt and water. This option is considered more traditional and classic on the design scale.
Wooden furniture is classic as well, and does require maintenance, depending on the type of wood you choose. Teak furniture needs to be sealed at least once a year to maintain the color it takes when first made. When exposed to the elements, it turns gray, similar to barnwood color. If you are fine with that, then get wood and don’t maintain it. If you want it to look like it did when you bought it, you will have to invest some labor into it.
Ben recommends buying a dining table with all types of chairs that can double for extra seating around another gathering space. He likes to have a couple of arm chairs, a few side chairs and possibly a couple that swivel. When the meal is over, move the arm chairs and swivel chairs over to the gathering area for more entertaining company time.
He also has garden stools which act as seats or end tables.
Planters are a great way to keep the space green and seasonal, as well. They act to define a space, like a carpet does, and to set boundaries. Planters should be hearty and able to withstand frost and weather. Ben recommends buying neutral, black or dark gray planters, as they show the least amount of dirt, wear and tear. In the spring, fill them with pansies or other flowers that are cold-weather tolerant. Another good filler for a planter is a boxwood, which can be crafted into any shape you like.
Lighting is a crucial element of an outdoor space. Too much light takes away from the overall ambience of the setting. But too little makes you strain to see the company you’re enjoying. Ben recommends outdoor party lighting, strung up over the seating and dining spaces. This commercial-grade lighting can withstand the elements, so you can leave it up all the time.
The teak lanterns below complement the teak table. They are also excellent for holding citronella candles.
Below is an outdoor lamp, completely weatherproof down to the lightbulb. You have to see it to believe it! The shade is made of sunbrella outdoor fabric and is impervious to water.
Citronella candles are nothing like they used to be. Now they are decorative and functional—a perfect combination of light and insect repellent to make your space an ideal setting.
Ben wanted to emphasize that getting your patio ready does not mean you have to start from scratch. Take what you have and work with it. Update your cushions. Incorporate a rug to define a space or maybe define that space by just rearranging your furniture. Placement of a dining area adjacent to a seating area is ideal, but just having one is a great start.
If you still need some inspiration, swing by Digs at 3905 Chenoweth Square to see their spring collection, or check out our Pinterest boards for beautiful outdoor ideas.