The Ins and Outs of Outdoor Spaces

Cool shade, lake breezes … we want to live outside this summer.

Lucky for us, with a little design help, we can.

“Everything about outdoor spaces is better than ever,” says Lindsay McDonell, of Chicago-based LB Interior Design. “Furniture is better. Outdoor rugs are more sophisticated. People are really carrying the design from the interior of their homes to the exterior.”

According to McDonell, who does many projects on the North Shore, the trick to making a patio feel like an outdoor room is to extend thread from your interior design—a color, a style, a pattern.

“The outdoor room should fit with the total surroundings, including the exterior of your home,” she says.

Landscaper Dennis Ross of Ross Design Group, based in Inverness, works with McDonell on many North Shore outdoor spaces, and says he’s installing a lot of fireplaces and pergolas, which are gazebo-like structures that are open on top.

“Pergolas are a beautiful way to create the feel of a dining room,” Ross says.

“Add fabric covers, hang a fan and lights, and you’ve created the perfect summer dinner party venue,” McDonell says. “And, for the ultimate in entertaining, we’re seeing more and more people installing wood-burning pizza ovens.”

Another item that’s guaranteed to add warmth to your summer and fall gatherings is a low-slung conversation table with a center firepit, surrounded by lounge-style seating. And while casual wicker is a classic look for summer, retailers are showing more options for furniture that would look just as fabulous indoors, made of weighty cast aluminum. (Restoration Hardware’s Klismos line is a great example).

Ross says that once you’ve invested in an outdoor room that’s as comfortable as your living room, you want to use it until the snow flies.

“Stand up heaters will extend your use into November,” Ross says.