Shelter magazines this time of year are fond of featuring expansive outdoor spaces with sprawling gardens and entertaining areas.
But for many people, especially city dwellers, the at-home al fresco area is more postage-stamp than palatial.
Not a problem, says Katy Kiick Condon, a senior editor at Better Homes & Gardens magazine. She advises using the same space-saving tricks outdoors that you do indoors.
Think of the terrace as an extension of the kitchen or living room.
“Try using the same colour scheme and styles. The continuity will visually combine the spaces, and make your terrace feel larger,” Condon says. “Outside, you can punch up the colours, and be a little more playful with art and decor.”
New furniture designs for 2016 take into account the challenges of limited space, says Jackie Hirschhaut, executive director of the International Casual Furnishings Association’s outdoor division.
“Manufacturers have created compact, functional furnishings that add style and comfort to even the most pint-size patios,” she says.
A round table can work for stand-up cocktails or as a dining table, with sturdy, stylish, stackable chairs brought into service.
Check out West Elm’s Mosaic table collection; tiled tops in a variety of patterns come on wood or metal bases. (www.westelm.com)
Bend Goods has a hip little stacking chair made of galvanized wire, available in neutrals as well as amethyst and emerald. (www.bendgoods.com)
Some manufacturers have started producing “balcony height” chairs and tables for the outdoor market; they’re tall enough that you can see over the railing, but not so tall that you could fall over it.
If you’re more into lounging than dining outdoors, forgo a table for one or two comfy chaises or chairs. Look for colorful, folding Adirondack chairs made of recycled, durable synthetic wood. (www.wayfair.com)
Or Target’s Bryant faux wood/upholstered club chair has uptown chic. Use small ottomans and trays for refreshments. (www.target.com)
Gloster Furniture’s shapely little Bells matte aluminum table, in white, meteor, coral or aqua, can be had with either a tray top or ice bucket insert, making it a great space-saver. (www.gloster.com)
Consider a vibrant outdoor area rug. Dash & Albert’s Catamaran collection features jaunty stripes in a range of hues. (www.dashandalbert.com)
To add some interesting light sources, hang a pendant over a table or change existing sconces, advises Condon.
“With the improvements in solar- and battery-powered lights, there are tons of options that don’t require hardwiring,” she says.
Add some art to your “indoor-outdoor room”: Look for maps, photos or vintage ads that reference your home’s location.
As for window treatments for terrace doors; outdoor fabrics have improved, feeling and looking more like interior textiles. At www.Spoonflower.com, you can even design your own fabric pattern.
“Build up, not out,” Condon says. Use vertical space by bringing in tall potted plants, hanging planters from the ceiling or creating a screen of planters. Look for colorful, pattern-rich umbrellas that tilt and shift. CB2 has a small-space sun shade worth checking out. (www.cb2.com)
Dwell.com has the retro Bullet planter, a reproduction of a 1950s design. Available in a range of midcentury hues, it’s got a space-age-y vibe, perched on tripod legs. Also at the retailer, the Little Jack tabletop planter; the walnut base is shaped like a playful jack, and the powder-coated vessel comes in sky blue, frosty white or citrus. (www.dwell.com)
If you’ve got a view, don’t block it. Orient the furniture to take advantage of it.
But what if you’ve really got no room for any furnishings, and no view either?
“If the best part is just 10 square feet of fresh air, add a gorgeous runner and find some plants to breathe it in with you,” Condon advises.