Bonus Column: Martha Stewart
Warm weather and long days call for lazy hours lounging outdoors. Happily, a few additions will transform a basic patio or porch into a true extension of your home, making it a cozy, comfortable and chic retreat to spend your summer living in.
1. ROLL OUT A RUG
Outdoor mats, which now come in tons of great colors and cool patterns, are a quick way to add comfort underfoot, define your space and tie the look of it together. Look for rugs that are made of durable, UV-treated materials and can be hosed down for fast cleaning.
Sources: Crate & Barrel indoor-outdoor rug, in Drift Brown, $299, crateandbarrel.com. Dash & Albert McGregor indoor-outdoor rug, in Navy, $1,243, dashandalbert.com.
2. INVEST IN STURDY (AND STYLISH) FURNITURE
Well-made pieces will withstand the elements over many seasons. Choose comfortable, versatile items like a bench that will look sharp solo — or can be used with a table for added seating during mealtime.
Source: Martha Stewart Living Deer Isle outdoor dining bench, $399, homedecoratorscollection.com.
3. THROW SHADE
When the sun starts blazing, a classic umbrella offers an elegant solution. Or consider a movable scrim (imagine curtains around a seating area) that you can shift as the sun travels through the day, suggests Christiane Lemieux, founder of new home-furnishing brand Lemieux Et Cie.
Source: Pottery Barn Capri Market umbrella, from $312, potterybarn.com.
4. ADD A FOCAL POINT
Place a large fire pit at the patio’s center, suggests Sarah Fishburne, director of home design at Home Depot — or a smaller one off to the side, to create an area of interest. (Either should be at least 10 feet from the house.) It’s a feature that extends the season, and those with grates on top can double as small grills.
Source: CB2 Ember fire pit, $269, cb2.com.
5. LIGHT THE WAY
Lanterns provide safe passage in dark areas and bring a flattering glow to your guests. Plus, “light beautifully defines a party’s perimeter,” says Lemieux.
Source: Pottery Barn Arlington lantern, $130, potterybarn.com.
6. ENLIST HARDWORKING PIECES
Is it a stool? Is it a table? Flexible furniture means you always have whatever you need on hand. Go for weatherproof (and deceptively lightweight) materials like teak or resin for enduring quality.
Source: Terrain protected-teak plant stand, $198, shopterrain.com. Crate & Barrel Mesa side table-stool, $229, crateandbarrel.com.
7. INFUSE BEAUTY — AND FRAGRANCE
“Coordinate your planters and flowers to complement the colors of your patio for an effortless, pulled-together look,” Fishburne says. Choose evening bloomers like moonflower for a gently scented cocktail hour.
Source: Planters, in various styles and sizes, from Home Depot, homedepot.com.
8. COZY UP THE PLACE
Soft furnishings, including pillows, curtains and throws, establish an outside vibe that’s just as comfortable as the inside. Pillows made of treated fabrics, such as Sunbrella, resist staining, fading and water damage. “I create a lounge feeling by layering rugs, poufs and large pillows around the fire pit for sunset cocktails,” says Lemieux.
Sources: Bed Bath & Beyond Sunbrella canvas outdoor throw pillow, in Maize, $28, bedbathandbeyond.com. Serena & Lily Harbour Island floor pillow, $179, serenaandlily.com.
9. KEEP DRINKS AT HAND
Why go inside? A cooler or bar cart (they have wheels for a reason!) keeps you part of your party. A rolling cooler is a practical way to keep chilled drinks at the ready — plus, it’s fun and stylish. “There is something about galvanized steel, ice and drinks that just says, ‘We are going to have a good time,'” says Lemieux.
Source: Permasteel rolling patio cooler, 80 qt., $150, permasteelshop.com.
Questions may also be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Martha Stewart regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.