By: Carson Price, artist
Relaxing with a glass of wine and playing hostess on my screened-in porch. This was my aspiration for our ugly, uninviting porch. Since we moved into our house years eight years ago (!), I had wanted to spruce up our space, yet some other project always came first. Our screened in porch--with its concrete floor and old black wrought-iron furniture-was cold and uncomfortable. This year, I vowed, things would change! And they did! After making-over our porch, it's like having another room that our family now uses all of the time!
Here are my: 10 Steps for Creating an Outdoor Room
#1 Consider Functionality & Lay-out
Yes, aesthetics count, but most importantly, your space should meet the needs of both you and your family. After you determine how you will use your space, begin to consider what furniture you need to achieve your goals for your space. On my porch, I needed comfortable lounge furniture but also needed a place to serve drinks and dine. Did I want a large L-shaped sectional? Or would it be better to have multiple smaller pieces? Would the sectional be too low for a dinning table? Speaking of dining table, square or round?
Since I needed to maintain the walkways between the two screen doors and the French doors, I decided that it would be better to have multiple pieces of furniture with different functions.
#2 Determine Your Look
Are you interested in showcasing specific colors? Do you want your outdoor room to flow seamlessly with your interior rooms? Do you lean towards Boho Chic or Colorful Preppy? Don't know your look? Starting pining outdoor spaces from Pinterest. With enough pins, a pattern should emerge and help you hone-in on your look.
I decided to apply the principles that I used in my interior rooms outdoors: buy neutral, black and white/cream base pieces and bring in texture, color and originality in the accents.
#3 First Things, First: Buy a Rug
Nowadays, the options for affordable outdoor rugs are too numerous to count. This is arguably the single most important element when making an outdoor space feel like a room. I went with this black, cream, and natural colored Greek Key Rug.
#4 Mis-match Your Furniture
A cardinal decorating rule is never to purchase a matching set of furniture whether it be for your bedroom or living room. This rule applies to your outdoor room as well! If you are going for an interesting room with depth and character --in other words a "collected feel"--buy mismatched pieces: some new, some old, some high-end, some thrift-store-finds.
#5 Add Plants
This is a crucial step when creating a room that blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor, especially if you are decorating an enclosed outdoor area like a porch. I chose dark green pots and fiddle fig trees in order to make the potted plants blend with the natural landscape and bring the outdoors onto the porch.
#6 Layer-on Textiles and Color
This is your opportunity to take your room to the next level and showcase patterns and colors that you love. It is in this step that you can "cement" your look. By adding textiles (pillows, throws, etc.) you will soften your room, making it comfortable and welcoming. Since my furniture and rug were neutral (natural, black and white), I decided to introduce deep green, shades of orange, and coral as well as a pop or two of pink.
An important thing to remember is that you do not want your outdoor lighting to be too bright at night; if so, it could ruin the atmosphere. You cannot beat the festive look of the ubiquitous string light. We hung our lights on our patio (rather than on our screened-in porch) because we felt that from a distance, the lights provided the proper amount of light.
#8 Details, Details, Details
This step is the most fun! The icing on the cake; the splash of San Pellegrino in your Campari & Soda...
They say it's in the details, and this is especially true when decorating. Consider additions that would make the space more comfortable on a daily basis while also considering details that will liven the space when entertaining. For a party, add a basket of extra pillows and blankets that beckon guests to stay awhile. Store magazines and reading materials in a fun container or basket to encourage lounging. Add candles, flowers, baskets, mirrors--anything that makes your space feel like a room. And don't forget your bar! Worried about damage from the elements? Designate a container that will be brought inside every night to hold these objects, then simply return them to your outdoor room the next day.
#9 Don't Forget the Art
"Art outside?", you say. I say: "Why not?" While it would not be a good idea to leave your art outside, temporarily adding art to an outdoor space during a cocktail or dinner party is a sure-fire way to bring the indoors out-of-doors while adding a big of flare! Don't have art to move outside? Consider hanging ethnic fabric in lieu of art.
#10 invite your friends
Once you have created your sophisticated,yet cozy outdoor space use it! Invite your friends for a raucous time!
Carson Price, artist
Resources: Rug (Rugs USA), Pagoda Bench (One Kings Lane), Barrel Chairs and table (Marshalls), Pillows (Lacefield purchase at Fraiche, Richmond, Virginia and Target), Beach Blanket (One Kings Lane), Bamboo Chairs (Vintage), Garden Stools (Better Homes and Gardens), art (Carson Price, Fine Art.)