April 2008

Now that winter has passed, my mailbox is full of catalogs featuring outdoor furniture. I’ve definitely seen an increase in options over the last few seasons. No longer are homeowners limited to wicker or teak. Today there are many materials to choose from that stand up to the elements. Additionally, today’s outdoor furniture can be just as stylish as the furniture in your home. It’s not uncommon to see sectional couches and even daybeds in an outdoor space.When creating a furnished outdoor space, there are three things to consider: Style, Materials and Accessoriesoutdoor-chaise.jpgoutdoor-classic.jpgStyle – As mentioned, there are many styles to choose from, so where do you begin? A good rule of thumb is to choose something that blends in with your indoor furniture. For example, the chaise lounge above in espresso would be a good choice for a modern home, whereas the curved sofa and matching side chair might work better in a more traditional home or in a tropical garden.Materials – Once you’ve determined the style of furniture for your outdoor space, you next need to take into consideration the material of which it is made. Wicker tends to erode over time so many outdoor furniture manufacturers have introduced resin made pieces that look like wicker but hold up amazingly well to UV rays, rain, sand and dirt.When considering wood, teak is a tropical hardwood that stands up extremely well to the outside and can even be left untreated because of its natural oils. And if you like the look of metal, you have many options – cast iron, cast aluminum, forged iron and bronze to name a few. Don’t forget to ask if it has been treated as some metals can rust. And if you have put aside a generous budget for your outdoor space, furniture covers are recommended. They not only protect the furniture from the elements, you won’t have to clean the furniture as frequently.outdoor-pillows.jpgWhen selecting cushions, pillows and umbrellas for your patio, make sure the material is stain resistant and fade resistant or your furniture will look old and drab in no time. These two pillows in an Asian textile motif are from Pottery Barn and made of spun polyester which also stays cool and comfortable. They are so stylish, you’d never know they were made for the outdoors!outdoor-dinnerware.jpgoutdoor-light.jpgoutdoor-run.jpgAccessories – Lastly, don’t forget to add the finishing touches. Rugs, attractive outdoor dinnerware, lighting (candles, lanterns, hanging lights, chandeliers), and even curtains will all help bring the look together. The soji lantern above is actually solar powered. You are really only limited to your imagination when it comes to creating an outdoor space, so have fun!

Pick up any fashion or design magazine and you will quickly recognize that this spring is all about color. Hot pinks, bright greens, bold yellows and one of my favorites – orange! Below are a few unique orange furniture pieces and accessories that are sure to brighten up any room.orange-desk.jpgThis orange parsons desk from West Elm is a great choice if you are interested in bringing life to a neutral colored space, such as a home office. It would work well as a console to greet you in an entryway. They call this color “polished saffron” and even managed to fit in two drawers.orange-chair.jpgOne thing to remember about orange is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be bright or neon. I love this spicy orange chair from Room & Board because it features a really rich, vibrant shade of orange. This would be equally beautiful in a home done in warm fall colors as well as a beach-inspired home decorated in relaxing colors of sandy browns, spa greens and turquoise blues.orange-swival-chair.jpgIf you have a modern space, here is chair from Room & Board that is just for you. Called the Sutro Swivel Chair, the smooth curved lines and rich orange leather could easily be the standout piece in a mid-century living room.orange-lamp.jpgFor those of you who want to add a splash of color without spending a lot of money, consider this affordable script desk lamp from CB2. This lamp is a modern twist on the classic pharmacy lamp done in hi-gloss orange lacquer for under $60. I can easily see this practical and eye catching lamp sitting on matching bedside tables.orange-pillow.jpgIt’s safe to say that most people wouldn’t feel comfortable painting a room orange (I’m the exception!). For those who don’t want to go so bold, small splashes of color on items such as pillows can also update a drab room. This luxurious velvet pillow features a graphic floral pattern in orange. Pillows are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to experiment with color because unlike paint, you can swap out pillows seasonally.

I really enjoy throwing dinner parties at my home because I believe that small groups of old and new friends, and an intimate setting are the perfect formula for interesting and stimulating conversation. If you are thinking about throwing a dinner party, here are a few of my favorite tips to guarantee you and your guests will have a memorable evening.Make clean up as easy as possiblebamboo-plates-1.jpgDon’t you hate that moment after the last guest has left and you enter the kitchen to find it piled high with dirty dishes? I do, but I couldn’t imagine using disposable plates…until now. These environmentally friendly bamboo plates from World Market are intended for one-time use and are much more chic than paper or styrofoam plates. Made of organic bamboo, they are biodegradable and peeled directly from the stalk. They are sold in three sizes starting at $4.99 for a set of eight.Go with a themecocktail-napkins.jpgTo spice things up, I usually try and have a theme for the evening that ties in the food and the décor. Although I like to use cloth cocktail napkins whenever possible, I recently couldn’t pass up these colorful paper cocktail napkins from Crate & Barrel. The bright colors and psychedelic design would be perfect for a sixties themed event. Now I just have to figure out what I would serve!?Create an ambiance with lightingsmart-candles.jpgThere is nothing like candles to create a warm and intimate setting, and I love to have them all around my living and dining room when I have guests over. That said, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found wax melted on pieces of furniture or dripped on carpet at the end of the evening. I came across these smart candles from Crate & Barrel recently and they’re great! They give off the same ambient light flicker that real candles do but without the cleanup. They use two AAA batteries which are included.pendant-woven-lamp.jpgAnother lighting option and a definite conversation starter are these abaca pendant lamps from West Elm. They would look amazing strewn outdoors for a spring cocktail party. I especially like them in clusters the way they have them featured in this photo.Make your guests feel specialshell-place-card-holder.jpgSince I live in Southern California, beach parties are a must in the summertime. I was recently given some unique place card holders made from sea shells (I also received matching napkin rings). Place cards are an especially good idea when you are having a diverse group of people to dinner who may not know one another. I think it also adds a special touch because your guests know that you’ve taken the extra time to create the cards and think about seating. These are from a nautical store I found online.

z-gallery-chandelier.jpgMy design philosophy is defined as “modern mix,” and this unique glass chandelier from Z Gallerie is all about modern interpretations. Each of the 230 glass loops is interchangeable, giving you the freedom to configure the shape and length of this one-of-a-kind lighting fixture. I love that this chandelier pays homage to its traditional counterpart, but it’s designed in a very modern way. It would fit right in with a number of design styles, and you can’t beat the price at $295!Where would you hang it in your home?