Outdoor Rooms
Ralph Anderson

Create Your Space Outside

Nothing says "spring" like outdoor parties, cookouts, and lazy Saturdays lounging in a deck chair.

Not everyone is blessed with rolling lawns and expansive terraces, but don't let that stop you from creating an exciting and stylish outdoor room.

Hosting a cookout and need recipe ideas? Check out MyRecipes.com for grilling recipes.

Outdoor Rooms

Choosing the Right Furniture

When selecting outdoor furniture, it's important to consider a number of factors.

First, determine the practical uses of an intended piece, along with your space requirements. Materials are important as well, for furnishings should be built to withstand heavy wear and tear. Various finishes afford different degrees of weather protection, so be sure to match the finish to your own climate patterns.

Finally, make sure any piece that will need to be moved often is light enough to do so easily.

screened-in porch
Ralph Anderson

Covering Up With Color

Your outdoor sofa can be covered in a material that's just as soft and stunning as the fabric on your living room chairs. The choice of colors, patterns, and textures has never been better. Bright shades, stripes, and patterns are big hits for the season.

Outdoor fabric is meant to be left outside, but it isn't maintenance-free. Try to keep cushions, umbrellas, and pillows out of direct downpours, and they'll have a longer life span. If items get soaked, lean them upright against a wall and allow all the moisture to drain out.

If absolutely necessary, machine-wash cushion and pillow covers in cold water, and line dry. Never put acrylic fabric in a dryer; it will melt.

festive deck
Laurey W. Glenn

Decorated Deck

A few simple touches took this deck from blah to beautiful. The benches and wrought iron furniture, covered in comfortable and colorful cushions, are a vast improvement over garden-variety plastic chairs.

A built-in buffet makes outdoor entertaining easy, while an oversized checkered cloth spread on the ground adds color and can double as a tic-tac-toe board to keep kids entertained.

rooftop deck and garden

Rooftop Refuge

Sometimes the perfect outdoor space is just under -- or in this case, over -- your nose!

This rooftop deck turned living room is an unusual and appealing gathering area. The weathered wood floor, painted in a diamond pattern of gray tones, adds subtle geometric structure. An eclectic mix of wrought iron chairs, Adirondack pieces, canvas lounge chairs, and portable ceramic-top tables suits the space perfectly.

Lively cornflower blue fabric forms the basis of this color palette, creating a cool feeling during hot days.

Outdoor Rooms

The Secret Garden

A container garden breathes fragrant life into even the smallest outdoor room, creating an oasis in the heart of the city.

For a display that guests will "ooh" and "ah" over, give your garden strong structure with a few junipers and barberry shrubs, or even vine-covered latticework. Next, concentrate on layering color for maximum visual impact. Spider flowers add height, while showy black-eyed Susan blooms brighten up a garden in August. Coneflowers are an eye-catching and hardy choice; yuccas lend a tropical feel.

brick courtyard
J. Savage Gibson

Charleston Courtyard

Courtyards are ideal outdoor living spaces, affording a sense of seclusion in an otherwise open backyard. As opposed to the more social front porch or open gazebo, they provide the perfect place to withdraw from the world.

Lush tropical foliage, such as bananas and sago palm, brings new life to this courtyard and provides additional privacy. During renovation, buried bricks were recovered to add to the walls and patio, lending a sense of antiquity to the space. River stones around the base of the fountain reinforce a water theme.

covered porch
Celia Deaton

A Gazebo Getaway

No backyard retreat is complete without a spot to sit back and enjoy it all. Cooled by ceiling fans and gently lit, this gazebo can be enjoyed through sizzling afternoons and well into the cooler evenings.

Four painted canvases mounted on the ceiling both dress up the structure and prevent birds from roosting in the rafters. Location is just as important as style, however. Gazebos built near the house provide a nice transition between house and garden, while those located in the center of a yard or garden afford a respite from summer sun and great views.

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