The Retreat at Mountain Brook’s balconies, sunrooms, patios and fenced yards offer a wealth of outdoor spaces for personal enjoyment and for entertaining friends and family.
As with any outside area, decorating in a way that is both inviting and practical is key to taking advantage of all the possibilities, says Suzanne Martenson, owner and founder of Stems and Styles in Homewood, Ala.
Here are some tips the event stylist and floral designer shares for making the most of an outdoor space:
- Strike a balance between style and function.
Martenson recommends placing a basket against the wall of a balcony or covered patio and filling it with rolled-up throw blankets. It’s an opportunity to add color and texture to the space, and the blankets are convenient when guests are over or you’re enjoying a glass of wine outside and there’s a chill in the air. “People can grab them and wrap up,” she says. “It’s always a nice, inviting touch to have.”
Consider creating a container garden of herbs or adding herbs to flower planters, Martenson says. Not only will the herbs add visual interest, but they’ll come in handy. “You can always have them for cooking, and in the hot Alabama weather, they take the heat and the sun well and don’t require a lot of water,” she says. “Plus, they look nice mixed in with your annuals.”
- Bring the indoors out with furniture and rugs.
A wide range of comfortable furniture in a variety of styles, from sleek to rustic, is now made to last outdoors, Martenson says. “There are sectionals and loveseats that really make you feel like you’ve extended your living room,” she says. A table on a patio, balcony or in a sunroom also can extend entertaining space.
Today’s outdoor rugs can barely be distinguished from their indoor counterparts. “They really warm up the space,” Martenson says.
- Be strategic with color.
Use a neutral pallet – tans, grays and whites – for large items such as furniture, Martenson advises. Then add color with accents like pillows and other small items. This way you can inexpensively change the entire look seasonally – or when you get tired of the current one – by replacing the accents. “If you buy a full printed sofa, you’re going to be stuck with it for awhile,” Martenson says.