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Outdoor spaces can be challenging for a variety of reasons. For starters, weather is the number one complex factor when designing an outdoor area. Furniture and fabrics need to withstand the wear and tear that sun, rain, and wind generate. Like interior spaces, it’s important to evaluate the function or multiple functions of the area. Before breaking ground, plan ahead by answering the following questions:

  1. What types of activities will you be doing: Eating, lounging, cooking, swimming, gardening, or entertaining? 
  2. How will the lighting be integrated into each area and what type of lighting do you want: LED’s, solar, will you need electrical outlets? 
  3. Do you have areas where you might need a gas line for cooking or a built-in fire pit? 
  4. Will you be covering the furniture at night or during the winter months or do you plan to store it elsewhere?
  5. Shade for sitting areas, and understanding the sun patterns in certain areas is imperative. Do you need a sunshade that is fixed or a movable umbrella?
  6. What kind of colors, textures, and patterns do you want to see?
  7. Is added storage needed for outdoor toys, pillows, blankets, utensils, plates, etc?
  8. What types of plants are you going to want, insect/animal attracting or repelling, bee-friendly, pet and kid-safe, or drought-tolerant? 

Fine-tuning these decisions ahead of time will help when it comes to making the final selections. I always suggest starting with some sort of inspiration board, a place you can reference often and add ideas to as your project evolves. This point of reference will come in handy if the project changes directions, such as selecting a different area or picking a different type of outdoor sectional. 

With spring in full bloom, I took the liberty of pulling together two outdoor concepts for a sitting area, one is price conscious and the other high end. I have noted some pros and cons for a few of the products I’ve shown.

Concept One:  One of my main concerns is how furniture is going to wear in the outdoor elements. If you are someone who enjoys refinishing pieces then teak or wood, in general, will be a good fit. However, there are those of us who know we won’t want to do furniture restoration as a  weekend activity so for them, I  opt for metal pieces. The set I found from Lowes is just that a design-friendly aesthetic with little maintenance. Even the table that comes with the loveseat is metal and painted to look like a wood top. When buying items for exteriors you want to make sure that these pieces are rated to be outside, nothing will fade faster than a non-UV stable fabric on a hot summer day. Outdoor rugs should also have a tight weave, with a low pile which allows for easy cleaning. My first concept is budget-friendly and the pieces can be found in common big box stores.  

Concept Two: For this concept, I integrated more earth tones with less contrast in terms of color and textures. The outcome was a sophisticated, curated look. The furniture is made of teak, a material that will need to be treated at some point during its lifetime, but durable and perfect for an outdoor setting. I love mixing design styles so I pared the eclectic Porto outdoor lounge chair with a modern loveseat and added some color with the House Of Nomad rug. I love the small, gold detail on the string lights. Although not solar, they will add a small metallic touch to the area, which creates another dimension. By using a darker-toned blanket, colors from the rug are enhanced in the long seating area. 

There are a ton of wonderful places to source outdoor items, take your time in making these selections as the furniture needs to be durable so it tends to be on the expensive side. If you are feeling overwhelmed it might be worth your time to have a designer consult on your project to help iron out some ideas. Above all else, get outside and enjoy it! is the perfect pallet for design. 

Dream, Design, Redefine,

Niki 

Niki Milliken

Mom, wife, and design enthusiast living in Rocklin but originally born and raised in the Bay Area. Niki has been creating unique spaces for over 16 years. From mid-century to the modern farmhouse aesthetic, & everything in between, she loves every style, and mixing them together is her specialty. Incorporating found objects and sourcing the right collection of products for a project is where her passion lies. She believes that everyone deserves a space to be proud of and will help bring together a beautiful functional home. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in Interior Design as well as a minor in Art History from CSU Chico in 2006. She began her career designing model homes, moved into commercial interiors, then took her expertise to several well-known manufacturers acting as a material consultant between the manufacture and architects or interior designers. In 2019 she started my own firm to help work towards making all her own dreams come true. She spends her free time designing for Rooms of Hope, a Bay Area non-profit that provides design services to children in need, see more here: http://www.roomsofhope.org.