It’s a “staycation” kind of year. I’ve been super-busy helping my clients gear up their homes for summer entertaining. Since many folks are choosing to stay home instead of traveling this year, lots of my clients are focusing on making their decks, balconies, patios and backyards more fun and welcoming for guests — and more and more want to do that in an eco-conscious way.
You can too by following these three design rules that apply outside as much as inside:
1. Set the mood with lighting.
I like to start here because it’s like paint — it can affect what else you ultimately decide to do with the space. I use an abundance of simple clear votives (use citronella candles to deter bugs), which arewindproof/resistant, inexpensive and easy to clean. Solar path lights also look fantastic (and help ensure that your guests don’t fall down and sue you :-) as do the gorgeous options in solar lantern-style lighting.
2. Try alternatives to background music.
Neighbors get on your case when you blare the tunes? Friends have different tastes in music genres? Wind chimes are like Switzerland! I adore the tranquil sound of good wind chimes. Placing them in various locations around the exterior of a home brings a magical element to every corner. This chime is one of my favorites.
Also try placing wind spinners in surrounding trees; they’re inexpensive and mesmerizing to watch — a cheap way to transport yourself and your guests to a faraway place where people hang interesting, colorful objects in trees to attract tourists!
3. Make an effort to create a few inviting seating & eating areas.
Most people have the required outdoor table and chairs — but neglect to set up other intimate seating arrangements, which can be wonderful for conversation-starting in secluded spots such as under a tree. I recommend pairing mix-and-match thrift store finds for a casual plain air experience. Remember, a table is mandatory for the wine and cheese and can be as simple (and charming) as an overturned wooden crate.
My favorite finds include:
- Bamboo serving tray – light weight and handles easy to carrying nibbles out to your guests.
- Casual outdoor plates (again, thrift shop mix-and-match pieces are perfect). No plastic or paper plates pleeease. Use recycled, compostable or reusable plates and utensils instead. I adore this recycled glassware from ecosalon.
Finish by filling your outdoor spaces with flowers and herbs — and viola! The South of France in your own backyard, no passport required!