Creating an outdoor living space

It is not too late to create an outdoor living space or refresh it, while taking advantage of the after-July Fourth sales.

Christine O’Neill, a home furnishings consultant at Raymour and Flanigan (343-6800) in Middletown, shares the following suggestions:

First, evaluate your space. Will it be elevated, ground level or both? You should have a basic plan in mind. Remember the outdoor area is an extension of your indoor space.


Visualize your retreat

Is the area sunny or shady? Is it enclosed or open? You may be decorating a porch, a back deck or a patio. What is the surface? For privacy and protection from the elements, consider incorporating umbrellas, pergolas, fencing, plants and trees.

“Are you creating a place for relaxation and reading or dining and entertaining? Make a list of the key items you want to incorporate. Are you accommodating small children, parents or friends? Or is this your fortress of solitude?” says O’Neill.

Furnish with comfortable relaxing seating such as a sectional, lounging chaise or zero gravity chair. Enhance with water elements such as fountains, ponds to block outside noise. Add some mood lighting with lanterns, candles, solar lights, outdoor LED string lights or outdoor floor lights.

If adding some warmth such as a fire pit or chiminea, have some safety items such as a hose or bucket and proper fire extinguisher nearby.

Making it functional

Choose easy-care furniture like weather resistant polypropylene rattan, heavy-duty plastics, weather resistant cushions made of weather polyester such as Sunbrella, that resist mold and mildew. Enhance your look with colorful accessories such as planters, outdoor area rugs and all-weather accent pillows.


“Love the beach? Think seashells, ponds, and river rock. If you love bird watching, consider a birdbath; plant some bird-attracting plants such as hibiscus, sunflowers, daisies and coneflowers. Feeling patriotic? Go for the red, white and blue. Create a nightly fiesta with clay pots, accessories and string lighting to spice things up. Perhaps you want a gathering table with some inviting, eye-catching chairs for the big family party weekends at your home? Add some fresh cut flowers from your garden. Choose elegant dining sets and topiaries for a more formal dinner party vibe,“ says O’Neill.

For small areas, use your space wisely. Consider, folding benches, directors chairs or a small bistro set and a few potted plants of herbs and flowers.

O’Neill says, “The most important thing is to create your own personal sanctuary, the ideal place that you will want to be, whenever you can. Surround yourself with things that invoke your inner self and that you want to proudly share and display. Your mantra should be: ‘Rain or shine, I made it mine’”.

There is a room planner on the Raymour and Flanigan website. Just pick the size of the area then click on “outdoor,” which allows you to space plan with the outdoor furniture items available.