24 July 2010

Outdoor living - terrace colors

As I've said, there is still so much to be done inside the house, but the weather has been spectacular since we moved in...and with a pool and perfect terrace for al fresco meals and entertaining, I decided to jump right into making this outdoor space comfortable and inviting.

Generally, I am not a big fan of "outdoor rooms" unless they are attached to the house, like a patio off the family room, or a dining pergola off the kitchen. For me, being outdoors should not feel like being indoors. I see exterior spaces in decorating magazines that have everything from a living room atmosphere around a grand hearth to gourmet kitchen to outdoor movie screen, and I think "what ever happened to just enjoying the good old out-of-doors for what it is?" My kind of outdoor comfort includes chairs and tables that were clearly designed to be in the garden - not plush, weatherproof versions of fancy interior furniture. I prefer to keep the atmospheres separate. It makes each more special by celebrating their differences.

There is so much joy in owning a pool, although we never thought we'd have one, and would never have built one. Luckily for us, this perfect house just happened to include a pool, so we are the lucky beneficiaries. When I say the weather has been great, I should also mention
H-O-T!! The pool has been an absolute blessing and is responsible for keeping tempers at bay when the heat and humidity threaten them. Just look at this color - so cool and calming!
I know pools are a lot of work - maintaining the proper pH levels, etc., but this one seems to be worth every moment of time devoted to it - which I have to say isn't much, so far!

Before we moved, we picked out all the furniture we'd need to relax on our new backyard terrace. Bistro chairs and tables were a must, considering how much of our happiness revolves around food and wine. Then, we needed comfy spring-rocking chairs for chatting and reading, and finally chaises longues for sun bathing. I did not buy cushions ahead of time, as I wanted to use designer fabrics and make my own. I had a scheme in my mind's eye, which included a glorious floral outdoor fabric from Missoni, a company I simply adore! (MissoniHome fabrics are available to the trade, through Stark.) But after we got here, I looked at the color of the water, as well as the terrace tiles, and realized turquoise and terra cotta would be so much more in keeping with our hardscape.

As luck would have it, Home Depot had striped cushions in exactly the right color combination, so I bought those for the reading chairs. Home Depot had no cushions for the bistro chairs, and only wildly different patterned ones for the chaises longues. However, I bought those anyway, planning to cover them.
Jo-Ann Fabrics now carries an extensive collection of indoor/outdoor textiles, and there, I found a very similar turquoise in a fine printed strie, along with a terra cotta which I got to make cording. When I went to another Home Depot, I lucked out with throw pillows in a Japanese cherry branch pattern on turquoise, with accents of rust. These were obviously made to coordinate with the stripe I had purchased.

I covered the crazy chaise cushions in turquoise with matching ties and punctuated them with terra cotta piping, in order to give them a little zing, both close-up and from a distance. I love the way the rust color outlines the blue. I often make my own cording/piping, as it is truly easy, and adds a custom touch to whatever is being made.

Then, I made matching round cushions for the bistro chairs. I decided to skip making the ties for these cushions, as I felt they would look too fussy, on such small chairs.
At yet a third Home Depot, we were able to find more of the matching striped cushions, which we bought and I cut up and pieced together to make "box striped" throw pillows.

These are a fun way to add a different pattern, using the same fabric. Simply cut right triangles of the striped fabric, and piece together to form a square.

A beautiful pottery bowl by Clay Calderwood of Clayton's Clay Works, right here in Brewster, completes the scene. Clay happens to be my sister-in-law's brother, and I have actually had this bowl for many years - a gift from Jack. I am thrilled with the way it echoes the pool color.

Another piece I've had for a long time, which just goes so well on the terrace, is my antique ceramic elephant table. Originally purchased for our sunroom in Hingham, I have also used it in a showhouse bedroom, and most recently in my younger son's room.

Look at how versatile this piece is - below is a guest room I did for the Newport Showhouse Guild a couple of years ago. I have to say, though, I think this elephant has found his supreme spot on our terrace.
(Photo: Michael J. Lee)

Here's an overview of the finished cushions in various seating areas. I like that some chairs are in the sun, and some in the shade.

The bistro table in the foreground has an umbrella, and is a favorite spot for lunch, as it is just outside our kitchen door.

Finally, around the corner, and accessed by another door from the kitchen, is a charming antique set of table and chairs, which we inherited from the previous owner here. The carrera marble top long ago lost its sheen, and it has the patina of a piece of stone that has withstood the elements for generations. Four more seat cushions in the turquoise, piped in rust, complete the wrap-around color scheme of the continuous terrace.

The colors of our Italian pottery, some of which we have purchased in Italy and some of it imported by Abbiamo Tutto, go well with the terrace colors and have inspired the color choices for our future kitchen. I envision the kitchen color palette flowing out and connecting seamlessly with that of the terrace. These bright yet earthy colors are so easy to live with, an attractive presentation for food, and just plain cheerful.

The best part of indoor/outdoor fabric is that it can stay out all season. It doesn't fade, dries out quickly after rain showers, and is stain resistant and easy to wash. Besides all the fabulous choices available through designers, there are so many options these days, for consumers, including Calico Corners, whose all-weather fabrics I find very pretty. While I am sad not to have used my Missoni idea, I'll just have to file that one away for some future project!

Or better yet, these gorgeous Missoni beach towels are ONLY $297 each. I need a whole set of these (in my dreams!)


  1. You're killing me with this post!!! I've always dreamed of having a pool. To be able to decorate it with all these fabulous turquoise accessories only makes me want to cry (in a good way, of course!)

    Thanks so much for your email, and for stopping by the facebook page. I love your blog!

  2. I appreciate your sister-in-law's brother's (Clayton's Clay Works) pottery. Lovely home, great blog - - thank you!


Share on Tumblr