Summer is officially in the air: the days are longer, the trees are greener and the temperature is on the rise. With the change in season, many of our plans turn to the outdoors as we embrace our natural inclination to spend as much time as possible outside.
To gather some tips on how to maximize your outdoor living space during the best time of the year, we caught up with a few of the experts at Showhomes: co-owner and lead staging designer Janine Callahan with Showhomes Fox Valley/Naperville and general manager Cheryl Lynn Thomas with Showhomes Kansas City.
When it comes to color, lead with green
Green tones are a natural complement to any outdoor living space—natural being the key word!
“Clients often ask us what colors to accent their outdoor areas; our go-to is green,” Callahan said. “This works for decorative pillows and, of course, live plants. When we say green, we're looking at shades of forest green, specifically, or, if a client wants something a little more vibrant, we’ll use a shade that more closely resembles 'new life' green. We want to accessorize with shades of nature and also add some personality.”
Accent your space with other colors found in nature
“If you want an accent color that pops but is still neutral, we recommend white, or even beige,” Callahan continued. “These colors complement green and add depth. If a client wants more color, we suggest starting with the other colors present in their yard. Think in terms of flowers—purple, yellow, red, even some orange. The key component here is moderation; too much color and suddenly, you have an outdoor art studio.”
Thomas also recommended that those looking to add further accent colors to their outdoor space use existing elements of their home to do so: “Outdoor spaces should pull colors from the exterior of the home and rooms that look out onto them,” she advised.
Bring life into your space with plants
It’s not enough to just mimic the colors found in nature with the accessory elements of your outdoor space—take the next step and actually add some plant life into the equation.
“We do like incorporating some live plants in and around the area,” Callahan said. “Of course, those already present in your yard complement the space, but think about the colors you're bringing in with your accessories—if you have some reds or oranges, an Anthurium in a low pot would be nice. It will grow in the summer and you can check around for different color blooms. And because we love white accents, a Peace Lilly is an ideal candidate for your outdoor area, as well. The white blooms are uniquely shaped and often will bloom throughout the summer season.”
Incorporate texture so your space is comfortable and doesn’t fall flat
Comfort becomes that much more important in outdoor spaces because it tends to usually get ignored.
“Many people overlook the importance of outdoor rugs, pillows and cushions,” Thomas said. “Without them, outdoor spaces feel cold and unwelcoming.”
Let’s face it, we’ve all sat on a latticed metal or plastic outdoor chair for too long and have been left worse for wear because of it. To avoid this common problem and make your space that much more dynamic in the process, Thomas recommends homeowners invest in textiles in their outdoor space this summer.
Make seating arrangements versatile to support gatherings of all kinds
Arranging seating that accommodates both a peaceful night outside as well as serves as an ideal setting for outdoor entertaining is tough. Do you create one communal space or a handful of smaller seating arrangements for multiple intimate settings?
While acknowledging the conundrum, Thomas said homeowners can have the best of both worlds: “You cannot go wrong with a large table that seats at least six people complemented by smaller pockets of comfy chairs and lounges.”
Trending: Full-service patio spaces you never have to leave
In the luxury homes Callahan spends her time in and around with Showhomes, most currently feature paver patios, often with knee walls that double for seating. Also common are built-in gas grills, sometimes covered, sometimes not, she noted.
“The bread and butter of the outdoor living right now are brick paver patios,” she said, calling them hands-down the most popular outdoor living item currently. “Hardwood decks have also gone the way of the unicorn—many people are replacing concrete patio with pavers and upping their game with the paver look.”
As far as forward-facing trends revealing themselves this summer are concerned, Callahan added, ”Our friends at Countrywide Landscaping tell us that they are seeing an increase in the addition of a 'total living space’ outdoors, or outdoor living that is designed to prioritize comfort and style and includes an outdoor kitchen, bar, pergola, fire and water features. The people seeking to create these spaces are interested in having their very own resort in their yard.”
Let’s face it—for most of us, summer’s not as long as it used to be. Don’t wait to take advantage of the weather and commit to making the most of your outdoor space while it’s accessible.