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Summer is just around the corner, so the time is now to start planning your perfect outdoor entertaining space. We turned to HGTV expert Jeff Sarty (catch him on Decked Out) for his top tips for taking the indoors out.
Tip #1. Design your space wisely
If you’re starting from scratch, work your creativity to get the most pleasure from your space. Does your outdoor living area absolutely have to be connected to your house? Not necessarily – it can be a freestanding structure elsewhere in the yard if that’s where the conditions are ideal. “Taking some variables into consideration will help you create a cohesive and functional design,” says Sarty. Things to consider include where you’ll get the most sun (and, conversely, shade), what the space will look like in the winter and what’s directly surrounding the space.
Tip #2. Keep furniture on the neutral side
“Current design trends include blanketing the space with natural colours but spicing it up with bold accessories,” says Sarty, who is not only a television personality but the founder of his own landscaping business, Sarty Landscape Design (based in the GTA). When it comes time to splurge on big-ticket items (i.e. furniture), he recommends looking for neutral hues like brown, taupe and beige, and focusing on comfort. Sarty’s fave? “There are very few things in outdoor living that are as nice as sitting back in an ergonomically comfortable Adirondack chair,” he states.
Tip #3. Have fun with colourful accessories
Neutral furniture makes an ideal blank canvas to create any mood you’re seeking in your outdoor space, so have fun adding playful pops of colour with accessories like towels, tablecloths, napkins, pillows and dishes. Want to be transported to Morocco? Go with patterned cushions in spicy shades of burnt orange, ochre and red. A tropical retreat? Opt for linens in punchy brights like turquoise, yellow and hot pink. Serene oasis? Shades of white and lagoon blue are calming options.
Tip #4. Make your shelter comfortable
While the idea of outdoor living is lovely, there’s a good reason why we spend most of our lives indoors. Wind, rain, sunshine… there can be some harsh elements out there! Once you have the structure, furniture and accessories down, make your space extra-comfortable for yourself and guests by taking precautions to help beat the heat (a patio umbrella works wonderfully) and keep bugs at bay with solutions that range from a fully screened-in space to some citronella candles.
Tip #5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Don’t let a black thumb stop you. “If you have absolutely no idea where to start, go to your local nursery and start asking lots and lots of questions,” Sarty recommends. He also suggests bringing in photographs of plants you like. And when it comes to getting dirty, making it fun is half the battle. “Don’t go out and break yourself in half trying to dig up the yard,” says Sarty. Hire a contractor, your in-laws, the paperboy… anybody that will make the workload lighter.” After all, the season is fleeting – why not do everything in your power to make the most of summer?