We just got back from an action-packed week in France buying up goodies galore for our next container (arriving in August, we hope). In between waking up at the crack of dawn, hitting the fairs by 8 a.m., driving to the next destination and checking in and out of four hotels, we had a couple hours to enjoy the gorgeous summer weather in Provence and Paris. The skies were blue, the sun rose at 4:30 a.m. and set at 10:30 p.m. The light was just magical.
What is it about outdoor spaces that makes them irresistible? Here in Atlanta, we’re lucky to have a climate that is wonderfully conducive to outdoor living – our winters are mostly mild enough that an outdoor fireplace will keep you toasty; our springs and falls are simply spectacular and our summers, although hot and humid, are manageable with a ceiling fan or two (- and a blast of icy air-conditioning when you can’t take it any longer.)
And now that those long summer days and balmy evenings have arrived, we’re spending as much time outside as possible- whether we’re in France or right here at home in the ATL.
What makes a great outdoor living space? We love porches, verandas, terraces and balconies so we’ve come up with a list of outdoor must-haves. For example, if it’s covered with a roof of some sort, you’re already halfway there. If you have a fireplace, count that as a double bonus. The good news is that even the most basic outdoor space can be turned into your fresh air destination.
Try these tips on for size – and enjoy the inspiration!
Treat your outdoor space like an interior room
That means using elements you’d find inside, like comfortable furniture, pretty pillows, accessories, rugs and lighting.
Pay attention to proportion
You want your porch or veranda to be large enough to house a decent seating or dining furniture plan that draws your guests and the conversation together.
And even if you don’t have extra square footage for your space, remember that small can be just as fabulous:
Figure out how you want to use the porch.
We like ours to be an outdoor living room and dining room so proximity to the kitchen is helpful when we’re entertaining. You can blend the inside and outside in lots of ways, including windows that open up to connect indoors and outdoors. And adding a television is a great way to make sure your outdoor space is going to get plenty of use – we like covering our flatscreen TVs with doors when possible so it’s hidden when we’re not using it.
Think about exposure
If your space faces west, you may be blasted by afternoon heat and sun so keep your cooling options open with linen panels to block the sun and plenty of outlets for floor fans. Ceiling fans to keep the air circulating and the bugs away.
And chilly temps don’t have to drive you inside. Outdoor fireplaces are a big selling point here in Atlanta but portable heaters are easy to use and won’t break the bank. You can also install electric heating grids that visually disappear and turn on and off with the flick of a switch.
And don’t forget about the soothing sound of water – a pretty fountain or nearby water feature (like the spectacular pool featured below) is another plus. (Peter Frank Edwards/Redux)
Set the mood
Once you’ve got the basics taken care of, think about adding the special little touches – candlelight, cozy throws and music go a long way to create a charming ambiance. We like the lights on dimmers and plenty of hurricane lanterns dotted about. Don’t forget to plant a pot or two.
And voila! Now pour yourself a glass of something and enjoy your own outdoor destination space. Happy summer…
P.S: it may be summertime, but we’re already thinking ahead to fall. We’ll be headed to Paris for our fall buying trip and we’re delighted to announce that Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita blog is coming with us! We still have a couple spots left on the trip so come join us…