August 15, 2014 at 1:00 am

Smart Solutions

Bring the outside in to make summertime last

Indoor/outdoor furniture and accessories enrich our environments. (Pier 1 Imports)

With summer quickly slipping away, our al fresco activities are winding down. While we cant prevent the inevitable arrival of cooler temps, we can tweak our interiors to signal our time spent outside soaking up the sunshine.

Just because something is intended for outdoor use doesnt mean it cant come inside the home. By doing so, pieces become more practical while providing a visual reminder of the summer season.

For starters, an iconic garden stool makes a pretty addition to any room. These decorative gems offer a surface for newspapers and magazines, a spare seat for guests or a place to set a cup of tea on a cozy fall day.

Since its more common for furniture and accessories to be made for indoor/outdoor use, we might as well take that concept to heart. Outdoor rugs are ideal for high traffic areas like kitchens and foyers.

Hanging baskets can be installed in a kitchen and filled with fruits and veggies during the harsher seasons.

Even artwork can travel back and forth between indoor and outdoor locations, such as metal sculptures and mirrors.

Garden statues look great inside our homes. Sturdy urns can be filled with smaller items like wine corks and topped with glass as unique end tables.

Many plants can survive indoors, bringing nature into our rooms. Portable fountains make an indoor space feel peaceful, and hurricane lamps can hold battery-operated candles for a warm glow.

Bigger pieces, like patio furniture, can be difficult to store during the offseason, and some materials should not be exposed to the elements. Covers are practical, but theyre not the most attractive solution.

Consider investing in comfortable outdoor furniture pieces that can serve a purpose inside when the weather changes.

For instance, you might position a picnic table in your basement for an informal place to congregate. An outdoor bench comes in handy just about anywhere in the house. Try it as a makeshift coffee table or convenient seating instead of the usual dining chairs.

Add a bench to a mudroom or a foyer for a spot to sit and take off your shoes. Stow baskets underneath for more storage.

Unlike your average patio or deck setting, its best to mix your outdoor furniture in various parts of the home. For instance, you might put a Papasan chair in a corner of a library with the matching loveseat in a living room or den. Wicker and rattan pieces are often seen indoors. Their neutral aesthetic and laid-back look let them coexist with other styles.

Outdoor fabrics seen on pillows, cushions and upholstery are designed to be more durable, making them ideal for everyday use. Their lively colors brighten up the inside of our homes.

Though we still get to enjoy our outdoor spaces for the next month or so, its never too soon to survey them and select some key pieces to work into our rooms until the arrival of spring.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.