Johannesburg - Bringing the outdoors in has been a trend for a long time now, so maybe it’s time to rethink the patio or deck and make it more comfortable and pleasing for the rest of this summer – and the winter to come.
Four strong trends have emerged when it comes to creating an inviting outdoor room or patio, and if you keep them in mind you can’t go wrong, says Melanie Ewing, owner of Chapters Interiors, who regularly runs decor workshops.
CLEVER AMBIENT LIGHTING
“We’ve moved from stark, white light to soft yellow light or firelight,” says Ewing. “So you can use side tables with lamps, as you would use indoors. Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits or fire bowls that look like giant woks are big, as are fairy lights and solar-powered stepping stones. It’s about creating magical lighting, as opposed to practical lighting, so be inventive.”
Sunsails will liberate you from dated awnings or wind-prone umbrellas. They are made from durable fabric, and come in different colours. “You can cover the whole patio or just a corner. So it’s up to you how much light you want to let in, and they are ideal for keeping temperatures down during the day,” says Ewing.
SEATING AND EATING
Places to gather are the third trend for the outdoors, “not around the braai but as you would find inside, so we’re talking eating nooks and seating nooks”, says Ewing.
“Seating around a fire bowl makes a lovely gathering place, or a social arrangement of comfy couches on the patio.
“Patio furniture is becoming larger and more comfortable, and these days you can find lovely outdoor lamps and weatherproof rugs to make these gathering spaces as homely as you’d expect to find indoors.”
Water features will always be part of a good landscape design, Ewing says. “The trickle of water is soothing, and these days water features can be part of your deck, patio or garden. A lot of people will build a small pond or lap pool directly off the patio, so the kids are right there. Again, it’s about creating gathering places.”
As for how to furnish your patio or outdoor room, there are a few rules of thumb that you should stick to. For one, the style of your home should guide your choice, so if your home is more traditional than contemporary, it’s a good idea to go with wooden outdoor furniture, even if it is high-maintenance.
“Wicker furniture, real or fake, also works well. Wicker also lends a coastal feel,” says Ewing. If your home is more designer contemporary, there’s a wide choice of lightweight aluminium furniture out there that will blend with your style.
Ewing says colours for outdoor couches and chairs should be kept neutral, “then use scatter cushions to colour up and create interesting textures. Take colour cues from your garden, so if you have red and orange roses, use those colours in the patio decor”.
“Outdoor fabric used to be boring, but now there are some beautiful, durable fabrics in all sorts of colours and patterns. Geometric patterns are big in 2014,” she says.
Design principle dictates that there should be a focal point, so Ewing suggests looking at your patio and garden as a whole picture and choosing a focal point, whether it be a gazebo at the bottom of the garden, a water feature on your deck, or a bougainvillea that demands to be admired.
A good way to seamlessly blend indoor with outdoor, meanwhile, is to carry the same tiles throughout the interior and exterior living spaces, which makes the spaces seem larger than they are. Saville Jacobson, of Bathroom Bizarre, advises that when selecting tiles for a patio, take design cues from the architectural style of your home.
“So heavy terracotta or sandstone-type tiles are ideal for more rustic styles of architecture, whereas sleek and shiny porcelain tiles are better suited to Georgian or contemporary architectural styles. Just be sure to choose a tile that complements the indoor flooring and decor of your home,” says Jacobson. Either way, neutral tones are best.
“Neutral colours don’t tend to show the dirt too much. They blend with virtually any style of decor and landscaping, and since they are not too dark, they don’t absorb too much heat when exposed to the sun,” he says. As for size, large-format tiles are the most popular for outdoors, as they have fewer grout lines to give a more streamlined aesthetic, although if the space is small, it’s best to stick with smaller tiles.
Another tiling idea is to include small decorative motifs every so often throughout the flooring, such as mosaic detailing, for example – this adds a splash of colour and interest to the overall composition.
“To avoid slipping, it is best to choose tiles with a bit of a rough texture to provide added grip underfoot when the tiles are wet,” says Jacobson.
Last but not least, if you love music, then you’ll know the challenges of streaming it to the oudoors. There’s a cool new portable, weatherproof loudspeaker that provides a solution. The cylinder-shaped OutCast loudspeaker, supplied by The HFX Group, is a wireless, rechargeable and powerful loudspeaker that connects wirelessly to an indoor iCast transmitter, which connects to your iPod or another audio player. The top panel of the speaker features backlit, weather-resistant buttons for power, volume etc. Summer outside has never been so idyllic. And let’s face it, our winters are mild and patio living in South Africa is really all year round. So regarding the patio as another room to decorate makes perfect sense. “The general idea is to make your outdoor space as enticing as your indoor space,” says Ewing. - Helen Grange, The Star