Finishing your landscape design with furniture, art and lighting
As landscape architects, our focus is on the big picture and bringing the various parts of a landscape design into alignment. We want our outdoor environments to make visual-compositional sense and intuitive sense as you walk through them.
The point is for a landscape to be lived in and fully used by the homeowners for whom we’ve created it. The final detail that personalizes those outdoor spaces is the furnishings, accessories and lighting. For that, we rely on the expertise of interior designers.
We asked three prominent interior designers working in the Washington DC metro area to contribute their views on outdoor room design.
Practical requirements of outdoor living spaces
Is there a different set of priorities?
Erika: It’s similar to to the way we plan our interior projects. We start by identifying what the true function of the space will be. I find that people tend to jump in head first without putting enough thought into what they really need their outdoor areas to do.
Andrea: With any outdoor environment you have to ask does it face north or south, and what’s the light going to do as it moves across the space through out the day. If it’s an open patio in southern exposure most of the day, you’re going to need some kind of cover. In contrast for example a northern exposure patio may require patio heaters–a very different furnishings design plan than say a southern exposure.
Samantha: For outdoors we think coverage, storage, durability and movability. With coverage we mean is it going under a porch or outside on a patio, in the sun or out of the sun? Is there need for storage of items in off season, or the need for covers to protect furnishings. Durability. Do you want furnishings that will last? Because that drives the price. Movability. Most people like flexibility in their outdoor spaces. They want to be able to move things when the sun moves.
Furnishing your outdoor living and dining rooms
Are there limitations on the resources that are available to a designer?
Andrea: I don’t think it’s limiting. It just has to do with creative thinking. At A Houck Designs, we work with many wonderful outdoor companies like Century Furniture, Brown Jordan, and JANUS et Cie for our customers. But for the client who wants to create something unique for their outdoor space we have the resources to design custom solutions. We have a lot of vendors who create custom furnishings, tailor made specifically for a space. For the discerning client who really wants something to be a certain way, we go the extra mile to make it fit their desire and the given environment.
Samantha: Most people are open to doing things differently outside. You can work with some funky materials that you can’t use on the inside. I’ll use more of the concrete, the iron, the glass, the resins. People are more inclined to use color outdoors, and they tend to have more fun with patterns and texture.
Erika: Outdoor furnishings definitely require some maintenance. Good furniture covers are necessary as are sealers, cleaners and oils. We make sure the products we select are suited to the level of maintenance our clients are willing to deal with. Lee Industries has a fabulous collection of fully upholstered furniture that can be used outdoors. I also like to use Dedon and JANUS et Cie.
Samantha: The cost of outdoor furniture really shocks people. The problem is that most outdoor furniture is either really inexpensive or really expensive. There’s very little in between. The better the look, the more it’s going to cost. The less expensive stuff won’t last. Whereas, if you invest in a Brown Jordan outdoor sofa, that will last 20 years if you take care of it. Summer Classics, Brown Jordan and Lane Furniture are some of my favorites.
Lighting your outdoor rooms
What are the options available?
Andrea: We always strive to give the same level of attention to details like lighting to an outdoor environment as an indoor environment, you want it to have mood, comfort and ambiance. Wireless lamps are a wonderful way to create mood. And you don’t want electrical cords cluttering a patio or porch floor. I’ve have placed these new wireless lamps in outdoor projects, they are amazing!
Samantha: The exterior lighting side of the market is way ahead of everyone else. Lighting companies will have four and five different sizes of sconces, lanterns, table lamps and floor lamps in a variety of styles. They realize there are different uses for light in different spaces of the house. The furniture companies haven’t figured that out yet.
Art and decorative elements outdoors
What can you use to put the finishing touch on an outdoor space?
Erika: Art and decorative selections are considered in the same fashion as any interior project. I’ve designed and used draperies, rugs and upholstered furniture. It really is amazing what you can do.
Andrea: There are artists who create amazing art and it can be applied to many surfaces, like metal that can have a weatherproof finish perfect for an outdoor space. I used a piece by Carney in my 2013 DC Design House project that could be hung outdoors. And hand glazed and colorful urns from Asia are another perfect way to interject color into an outdoor space.
Samantha: I keep it minimal. A well placed sculpture or topiary is about as much accessorizing as I’ve ever done.
Home Is a Concept
Thanks again to Samantha, Andrea and Erika for sharing their thoughts and beautiful images with us. At Surrounds we believe that ‘home’ is a place you create consciously. The reason we do the work we do is to see people get the most enjoyment possible from the place they call home. If you’d like to see some possibilities for creating different types of outdoor spaces to personalize your home, take a look at our landscape design portfolio. Then give us a call to speak with one of our landscape architects.