Outdoor Living Areas

(ARA) - With the popularity of outdoor living and the design trend of bringing the indoors out, many style-conscious homeowners are taking cues from interior design to plan their outdoor "rooms."

"The line between indoor and outdoor spaces is blurring, and the overall trend is to create a seamless flow between the areas," says Ann Sundet, an Allied ASID interior designer who has appeared on national home decorating television programs. Sundet is the product manager at Homecrest, a leading manufacturer of affordable luxury furniture for outdoor living. She says outdoor spaces should reflect the home's interior design aesthetic so the areas blend together.

In fact, many homeowners regard outdoor living spaces as an addition to their homes, adding useful extra square footage throughout their entire property. Homecrest suggests seven design tips and trends to consider while planning and furnishing outdoor living areas:

• Be consistent with quality: Ensure that your outdoor furnishings are compatible with the overall quality of your home and landscape. "If you're investing in a major landscape project, include furniture in the planning and budget process to help showcase the finished space and enhance your enjoyment of it," Sundet advises.

• Design by spaces: Design your outdoor spaces to meet your family's versatile needs, including entertaining, lounging, dining, working and relaxation. Dining sets are a staple item, but just one of many available options. For example, bar-height tables and chairs work well in poolside areas to facilitate a bird's eye view over young swimmers; chat chairs and tables are perfect for intimate conversation areas; and reclining lounge chairs are ideal for R&R spaces.

Break out of beige mode: Color is in -- be creative with it. Incorporate a dash of vibrancy with colorful pillows or throws. Mix solid upholsteries with stripes, florals or patterns. Consider red or blue frame finishes for added flair. Buy a striped umbrella and cover each chair in different coordinating colors. "The options are endless with custom outdoor furniture," said Sundet. The Homecrest Index (HI) Design Center, available at stores that carry Homecrest products, simplifies the customization process so you can design spaces that reflect your unique style.

• Sit soft and pretty: Many new outdoor furniture collections feature deep, soft cushions with decorative detailing. They closely resemble interior living room furniture but are technically designed to withstand the elements and dry quickly.

• Top it off with stone: Granite, marble, tile and faux stone are among the many stylish tabletop options now available to address the growing demand for beautiful, natural-looking surfaces that coordinate with the home's interior stone surfaces.

• Leave no stone unturned: Outdoor living spaces of all sizes and forms can be created just about anywhere to maximize the enjoyment of your home, inside and out. For instance, a bistro set on a small bedroom balcony is a great spot to savor a morning cup of coffee or an evening glass of wine. A flower-filled or vine-covered alcove in the middle of the garden can be a private meditation retreat with comfortable bench seating or one or two lounge chairs.

• Design for the senses: Dress up your outdoor spaces to make them a feast for the senses. Incorporate fragrant flowers and herbs, comfortable cushions and pillows, romantic candles or twinkling lights, soothing chimes or a fountain. And enjoy the enhanced flavors that al fresco dining and entertaining provides.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

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