Irresistible Outdoor Spaces

by Diana Fox

Who can resist the casual fun and carefree activities of summer? The season’s warmer temperatures and longer days of sunlight entice us to abandon our cozy indoor spaces and spend more leisurely time outdoors. That means a chance to enjoy a soothing outdoor retreat — a place we can come home to — a place we can escape the routines and responsibilities of everyday life — a place we can entertain guests, savor the moment or simply relax.

Beautifully landscaped backyards, small urban balconies and sun drenched patios all provide the perfect setting to create an outdoor haven. Regardless of size you can create an environment for living and entertaining that’s comfortable, relaxed and stylish.

Make your outdoor space an extension of your home. Furnishings and décor should reflect the way you live. Create an outdoor room by incorporating the elements that please you from your favorite interior spaces. Starting from scratch can be costly, so look for accent items you might be ready to move outdoors. Furniture and dining room cast-offs can easily mingle with new store-bought treasures, bringing character and an eclectic appeal to your garden setting.

When you’re designing outdoor spaces create distinct areas for entertaining guests, preparing food, family dining, quiet conversation and evening relaxation. Define each outdoor setting as its own room with detailed boundaries to stop the eye, creating a sense of separation similar to the way four walls affect an interior setting.

Define the room’s perimeter utilizing trees from your landscaped yard, garden containers planted with a combination of tall grasses, foliage and colorful flowers, a shaded pergola with cascading overhead vines, a wrought iron folding screen or unique garden statuaries. Enhance interest and definition by changing the height elevation from one area to the next or blending in a variety of patio stone and brick materials for pathways and sitting areas. At a glance, your outdoor environment should appear visually pleasing with an open, inviting feel yet remain well-defined and stylish.

Add character and atmosphere to your garden dining space by hanging a wrought iron chandelier from a tree or overhead structure. Embellish with beads, crystals or candles for a fun twist. Create a quiet reading corner with a comfy wicker chair and ottoman. Add an accent table for setting a cold drink and it’s a wonderful getaway. A small terrace balcony appears more spacious when a large mirror leans against an end wall. Place flowering plants and accessories to reflect the light. This designer trick adds creative sparkle and dimension to any small space.

Design your main living area with an intimate furniture setting that’s conversationally friendly and welcoming. Today’s outdoor spaces often highlight many elements of beautifully decorated interior rooms. Create your own relaxing retreat with these finishing touches — comfortable seating with stylish fade-resistant fabrics, an area rug intended for outdoor use, candle or ambiance lighting, plump throw pillows, flowing drapery panels, a refreshing water feature, cozy outdoor fireplace, inspired accessories and artwork.

The perfect outdoor atmosphere is created by rich layers of color and texture. Design spaces to catch the eye in an expression of style and simplicity. Settings should capture your interest and invite you to linger. Mix and match personal style and imagination, infused with a touch of whimsy to entertain and delight your family and friends. Importantly, create an atmosphere with fun and function — flair and flexibility — fragrance and fashion.

This summer season give your outdoor spaces a lift. Recreate your backyard or patio into irresistible settings that await and welcome, a romantic moonlight dinner for two or an afternoon grill party with the neighbors — celebrate life’s outdoor moments in style…

Diana Fox specializes in interior arrangement, room design makeover, color consultation and relocating services. She has been assisting clients since 1986 and can be reached by phone at (951) 202-7859, e-mail at or on the Web at