The spring showers might only be settling in for the season but homeowners across Greater Pittsburgh are excited to have the winter weather behind them. We can finally begin to talk about those pleasant summer thoughts that kept us going for the past six months. It’s spring, everyone!
Nancy Barsotti, who was mentioned in our best Pittsburgh design blogger article, provided us with some design-inspired tips for making the most of our favorite outdoor spaces.
Nancy’s Patio Design Tips
Outdoor furnishings have come a long way from wrought iron and redwood. My new favorites are the many styles made of weather resistant fiber woven over powder coated aluminum frames. From contemporary European styles to the more traditional curved wicker, the furniture is both elegant and functional. This advanced fiber resists Ultra-violet light, moisture and bacteria. It will not tear, snag or fade and is available in an array of colors. Whether you choose the upscale designs of Brown and Jordan or the more affordable Crate and Barrel, you can find a style to suit your taste and budget. I also like the FSC-certified solid eucalyptus wood finished with polyurethane stains with comfortable cushions from Pottery Barn as well as the time-tested teak. The “Mateo Collection” from Richard Schultz features anodized aluminum with an elastomeric mesh that will look and wear beautifully for years.
One of the best ways to accent these furnishings is with fabric. I know I am dating myself, but I can remember when the choice was just a few solid colors and stripes that looked like awnings. Wow! Now there are endless patterns and colors from companies such as Sunbrella and the designer lines like Kravet and Schumacher. Whether you favor a Victorian style floral, a bold Marimekko print, a retro geometric, vivid stripes or a Bali-inspired botanical design, there is no excuse to have a boring backyard or plain porch.
Skyline Designs have you covered with cushions made from polyurethane outdoor foam, marine quality zippers and even UV resistant thread and covers to protect from the elements and dirt, which I still recommend when the furniture is not in use.
Fire pits add so much glow and warmth to the outdoor setting. If space permits, a built-in fireplace of stone or brick, surrounded by benches or chairs, is a nice gathering place. For smaller spaces, there are fire bowls made of steel by Colombo Construction and even a “Vesta” Fire Table by Stone Forest. Many local garden stores have these and other selections.
For the dedicated grill chef, the outdoor kitchen is the latest and most popular addition to your entertaining prowess. Companies such as Kalamazoo, Wolf, Subzero and Fire King will make sure you don’t have to set foot inside your indoor kitchen all summer long. Long-gone are charcoal grills, replaced by stainless steel gas grills of all sizes and configurations, warming drawers, side burners for pots, refrigerators and icemakers. Like most things, the sky is the limit and the choices go from simple to fancy, affordable to expensive.
For some afternoon sun shading umbrellas look no further than Tuuci. They make an amazing dual-cantilever parasol that opens in a variety of ways and sizes and folds seamlessly. It is available in a range of Sunbrella fabrics and colors. Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel are good sources too.
Accessories always make the room. Poufs that recall slouch knit hats designed by a Dutch textile designer and made by Bonnet remind me of fancy beanbag chairs. Side chairs by Janus et Cie, “Forest” and “Rion,” are fun designs of powder-coated aluminum in great colors. Pillows of different sizes and shapes of the above –mentioned outdoor fabrics would be the best pick-me-ups for your existing furniture. Polypropylene outdoor rugs of will set-off seating and dining areas. Hammocks of colorful weaves or macramé are popular again. There are even contemporary takes on them such as Seora’s marine plywood on a stainless frame. Colorful dinnerware set on rattan mats is the perfect finishing touch. My all-time favorite is Fiesta Ware. Last week I attended the Tabletop Show in New York and saw Fiesta’s latest color – flamingo. It was paired with other recent colors – peacock blue, lemongrass, tangerine, sunflower and ivory. I love combining all of them for a fabulous riot of color on the table.
Don’t forget the all-important statement of lighting. Rotoluxe makes illuminated stands and planters of recycled plastic powered by the sun. Like the comet, “Halley’ by Vibia is an arch of LED lighting on configurable metal poles. They can be used in the yard, over a table or seating area.
As Nancy points out, the opportunities are endless but one thing is absolute: the perfect patio is available. We suggest that you use these rainy days to prepare for the sunny ones because summer is just around the corner. Fingers crossed!