Summer will look different this year as we continue to shelter in place. Now, when warmer weather hits, many of our favorite places to cool off won’t be open. Outdoor living, whether a balcony or patio or backyard, will have new meaning as we seek solace in the outdoors. So if you are lucky enough to have some outdoor space, we have some ideas for making it special, and we’ve included some images from our photo archives for inspiration.
1. Recycled rugs
Outdoor rugs are a great way to add style while helping to define your “outdoor room.” Sustainable rugs made from recycled plastic work well outdoors because they are colorful, pet-friendly and washable. Available in a variety of styles and price points at Target, Wayfair, Mad Mats, Fabhabitat, Viva Terra, Dash & Albert and World Market, among others.
2. Create shade
Umbrellas provide more than just relief from UV rays. From graphic pergolas by Claire V for Anthropologie to CB2’s austere Midcentury Modern shades, there is an umbrella for every domestic setting. Consider Sunbrella fabric, which is waterproof, fade-resistant and available at Target, Wayfair, Home Depot, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.
3. Sit it down
Have fun with outdoor seating. Sling chairs are lightweight and movable and will make you feel like you’re at the beach. Trendy hanging “egg” chairs, Acapulco and butterfly chairs will give your patio the feel of a resort, while Potted’s woven Lari Loungers (named for artist Lari Pitman) evoke vintage Brown & Jordan patio furniture. More outdoor options at Room & Board, Article , Bend , West Elm and CB2.
4. Alfresco dining
You don’t need a large backyard to dine outdoors. Compact bistro tables will perk up any balcony or small corner without overwhelming the space. Fermob’s Bistro Collection of tables and movable folding chairs comes in 24 colors and a variety of sizes, including a folding table that hooks on to the balcony. View samples in person locally at Potted and Roger’s Gardens.
5. Outdoor grilling
After spending so much time in the kitchen during quarantine, it’s time to move the kitchen outdoors. Charcoal, gas, it doesn’t matter; when you heat up a Big Green Egg, old-school Weber or compact portable grill, it sets the stage for a party, even if you’re not hosting one. If you live in an apartment, keep in mind that many barbecues, such as the mobile Fuego, are designed with balconies in mind.
6. Plants and planters
Add green space with container plantings that require little maintenance. Asparagus ferns are sculptural and add texture and lushness. Dracaena draco and succulents (echeverria ‘After Glow,’ aeonium, Sedum morganianum and agave ‘Blue Glow’) will survive for years with little water. For color, plant electric pink cordyline in pots for year-round drama; for perfume, add sweet-smelling jasmine and gardenias on shady balconies and porches.
7. Fire pits
Portable or permanent, fire pits encourage gatherings, especially on warm summer nights. The simplest version is a fire bowl, while others come equipped with a propane tank or the ability to hook up to a natural gas line. Note that many communities require fire pits be set up at least 10 feet from any building. Shopping tips: Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wayfair, Potted, Modfire.
8. String lights
String lights add charm and instant ambience, which is why they are often referred to as “party lights.” Any kind of lighting will influence your outdoor area — Chinese lanterns and solar lanterns are fun — but string lights pair nicely with any outdoor decor, from Midcentury Modern to bohemian.
9. Portable bar
Add function to your outdoor area with a mobile mini bar, which can fit in small spaces and store glasses and dinnerware for entertaining. Load a vintage cart or bar cart with beverages and snacks, and wheel cocktails and eats from room to room or outdoors. Shopping resources: West Elm, Room & Board, Wayfair, Target and World Market.
10. Movie night
This is where all of your outdoor details come together for some socially distant fun. You don’t need a designated outdoor theater, projector and screen. Screen the main event on a bed sheet or the side of the garage. Pull up your chairs, bar cart and fire pit, and enjoy a movie safely together with your family and friends.