House to Home: Outdoor decorating needs 'floor plan’ - East Valley Tribune: At Home

House to Home: Outdoor decorating needs 'floor plan’

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Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008 3:19 pm | Updated: 9:54 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The most successful interior decorating is accomplished in stages. It takes time to accumulate the furnishings, color palette and the personal touches that make your rooms compelling for you and the way you live

The most successful interior decorating is accomplished in stages. It takes time to accumulate the furnishings, color palette and the personal touches that make your rooms compelling for you and the way you live. Outdoor spaces are no different. Make a plan for lounging, for eating and for playing. Consider how these areas connect, and how to make them inviting. Then work in stages to pull the design together. Allow nature to become part of the process, adapting the “floor plan” to the shade trees, garden flowers and water features already in place.

The biggest challenge with outdoor rooms is the weather. Your indoor decor does not have to contend with high winds, hot sun, rain and vast temperature fluctuations. There are plenty of options for building walls and outdoor ceilings that fit gently into the garden, provide privacy and, to a certain extent, weather protection. Built from wood or iron, arbors and pergolas come in a variety of designs. They offer the necessary vertical and overhead structure to define boundaries and offer shade and privacy, and you can choose to have them as solid or as airy as your needs require. A simple stretch of lattice filled in with fast-growing ivies and climbing perennials is the perfect back or side wall for any setting. Awnings are a more solid, permanent protective cover. These are easily found, or you can fashion your own outdoor awning and draperies using today’s exceptional outdoor materials, such as Sunbrella, which are durable and mildew- and fade-resistant.

The look and feel of lush green grass and other seasonal ground coverings is irresistible for outdoor rooms. Wood decking and paving stones provide areas of even ground and walkways. Another alternative for paths and patios is decorative concrete. There are two systems for creating patterns in concrete that are a powerful design element and practical solution to drab concrete slabs. The first is a method of stenciling with concrete. This can be applied to a concrete base, even one that is old and cracked. Or you can start from scratch. Either way, a large stencil is laid down over a layer of new wet concrete, and the pattern is filled in with tinted concrete. Patterns include cobblestones, bricks, herringbone, weaves, flagstones and tiles. The finished design is sealed. The stenciled stone pathway shown here is by Stencil Systems, www.stencilsystems.com. It’s a great solution for not only updating an outdoor area, but also adding a decorative element that is weatherproof and easy to maintain.

The second technique is to add pattern by staining the concrete. This application can be applied to a concrete pool deck, patio or balcony. It’s an exciting way to mark an entrance or create a focal point in your garden. Motifs can be custom-drawn, or you can choose from a collection of designs.

Once you have erected a few outdoor walls, some shade covering and outdoor flooring, your exterior room is ready to be furnished. Whatever you choose, be sure to set it up with a view that you love — an old gnarly fruit tree, a goldfish pond or an urn overflowing with your favorite flowers. Enjoy your home retreat rain or shine.

Contact writer: house2home@debbietravis.com

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