Interior design need not limit itself to the indoors. It can spill out into our outdoor living areas thus expanding our effective living space in a charming way. During the warm months, one of the nicest things to do of a summer evening is to have a few friends over and dine elegantly out of doors. The host needn’t work themselves to a frazzle. Pot luck rarely offends true friends. People love to bring something, whether it is homemade or purchased. Often it’s a chance for many to try out a new recipe without having to do an entire dinner party. The hostess is able to concentrate on table decor and ambiance since they are not having to do all the cooking as well. The aim is to have a good time and not over burden one friend for the enjoyment of all.
Even an ordinary back yard, patio, deck or balcony can be made glamorous for the occasion. Look what they do in Paris with almost no space to work with. A deck or patio add stability to the furniture. Cushions and blanket throws are nice if the party goes late and gets chilly. It is nice to have a serving table to hold casserole dishes and drinks off to the side, so that the main table does not get over crowded. A large vessel filled with ice is necessary to keep cold drinks chilled. Fine china and crystal are nice but not necessary. Actually, rustic, worn elements have great charm in an outdoor setting. A beautiful cloth and napkins are necessary, though, and are a key part of the colour scheme. These are easy care so that you can put on a nice event often and easily. They can be plain or patterned, but should not overpower the overall colour scheme.
Comfortable chairs are easy to come by, whether borrowed or rented. Most of us do not have a field of lavender in which to enjoy the company of friends. We do tend to under use what we do have though, and the summer slips away with no memorable dinners out of doors with friends. Patio furniture has come a long way and it is nice to have a table and chairs suitable for dining, along with your lounging furniture (photos courtesy of Better Homes or Houzz). Dining chairs from inside the house can be moved outdoors relatively easily. Simple elegance is the key to wowing your guests. There is no need to entertain in a lavish way if your home is not palatial. When your guests are relaxed and comfortable, conversation and good times flow.
The colour scheme can be vibrant or subdued. Both look good with a bit of sparkle and texture. Pale cream on cream looks as nice as pink and green. White or cream dishes look good with both schemes. Neutral schemes have a tendency to look bland, especially outdoors, rather than bringing the formality that is desired. It is important to add some sparkle and have some elements at different heights from the main level. Use what you have and layer it.
Placemats can be used as well as a table cloth. A table runner adds colour and texture to the table, but a length of embossed wallpaper would add texture and elegance inexpensively. Napkin rings reinforce the theme or colour scheme and add a touch of formality. Roses have sturdy stems which are easy to attach with wire to napkin rings. Hosta leaves are large these days and very easy to come by to boost the glamour factor in your centrepiece. A bunch of weather-resistant ribbons in colours to suit the theme can be tied overhead to blow in the breeze.
If you are a gardener, you can shop for your centerpiece from your own garden. If not, lovely flowers are available at the grocery store. Choose blooms or greenery in complementary shapes and colours. Arrange them in a lovely glass vase or low dish with floral foam. Dahlias produce fabulous flowers all summer once they get going. Peonies and roses are also spectacular. Embellish the arrangement with fern fronds, grasses, or what have you. Tall vases look dramatic, but will have to be set off to the side so that guests can see one another. Of course, if budget is no object, then you will feel free to go over the top on centerpiece, linens and dishes.
It is not necessary to provide an overhead structure to frame the event. As you become more at ease with outdoor entertaining, you can add an umbrella, gazebo or a seasonal shade structure. A cantilevered umbrella is beautiful as well as useful in the garden. They offer protection from sun or rain so that your party can proceed rain or shine. Outdoor chandeliers are available for candles. Candles should be shielded from the wind or wax will blow all over your nice tablecloth. Lanterns with tea lights can be distributed throughout the garden for ambiance, but they are not necessary for your first event. Electric string lights are available in a range of summer themes. They look good around the upper edges of a gazebo or tent. Solar lights come in a wide variety of shapes and are easy to install and maintain, although they do not cast much light. Citronella candles help keep bugs at bay, and they now come in a variety of colours. There is a strong trend toward the outdoor firepit of fireplace. These are usually linked to a gas line and are surprisingly easy care. They look wonderful, add a real sense of drama, not to mention extending our Canadian outdoor season comfortably. Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a consultation. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.
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