June 17, 2024

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Outdoor Spaces to Inspire Your Summer Soirées

During the many months spent exclusively at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners across the country realized the value of outdoor spaces. From patios and terraces to balconies and backyards, finding ways to expand our interiors past their exterior walls has been a vital exercise. Our outdoor spaces made enjoying friends and family during a global health crisis possible by offering a safe alternative to indoor entertaining. They made lockdowns bearable when most public venues were closed. Unlike prior years when we would gather indoors for winter holidays, many Americans found themselves huddling outside. Given this, one interior design trend that truly stands out in 2021 is transitional indoor-outdoor living. As we jump into the second half of summer, follow below for five outdoor spaces to inspire your summer soirées. Also, find out what five interior designers have to say about creating spaces for indoor-outdoor living.

Indoor-Outdoor Living is this Year’s Hottest Home Design Trend

“90% of Americans agree that their outdoor living space is more valuable than ever before.” – Pam Danzinger, Forbes

Blurred lines between the interior and exterior of the home have been a part of the American lifestyle since the early 20th century. However, interest has skyrocketed in recent months. In her article for Forbes, Pamela N. Danziger notes that 78% of surveyed Americans reported “upgrading their outdoor living areas in 2020.” Despite this astronomical number, 88% of Americans remain “dissatisfied with their outdoor spaces, with 66% finding its style, function (56%) and comfort (45%) lacking.” We mentioned above that American homeowners placed renewed value on outdoor spaces during the pandemic. As such, homeowners are committed to altering their spaces to best reflect their needs in 2021. To this end, Danzinger writes that “90% of Americans agree that their outdoor living space is more valuable than ever before.”

Writing for Martha Stewart Living, Nashia Baker echoes Danzinger. Baker notes that “three-quarters of American homeowners used their private outdoor spaces to spend time outdoors and boost their mental health during stay-at-home restrictions.” A year later after lockdowns were first instituted, American homeowners are now voluntarily spending more time outside than before. Polling of 2,000 homeowners found that respondents are now spending twenty percent more time outdoors than they did before the pandemic. While outdoor spaces have certainly functioned as “a little reprieve from the indoors,” they have also served as an extension of our homes. Below, six designers share how backyard design has changed as a result of the pandemic and why they think indoor-outdoor living is the future.

Five Interior Designers Share Their Thoughts on Indoor-Outdoor Living in 2021

#1 Martyn Lawrence Bullard Identifies Sophistication as a Driving Force

“‘People want being outdoors to be as sophisticated as an indoor living room.’” – Martyn Lawrence Bullard in The Washington Post

In her article “The new American status symbol” for The Washington Post, Karen Heller quotes Los Angeles interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. According to the award-winning designer, “‘people want being outdoors to be as sophisticated as an indoor living room.’” As 2021 continues, Bullard expects outdoor spaces to “become even more…personalized.” Instead of being “‘matchy-matchy,” outdoor design “‘will get more creative, eclectically mixed and matched,’” he says. 

#2 ​​Jackie Hirschhaut Expects Comfort to Take Center Stage

“[Homeowners want] outdoor spaces that supplement our sense of wellbeing and transform an outdoor area into an outdoor room.” – Jackie Hirschhaut for Forbes

Quoted by Pamela N. Danziger in an article for Forbes, ICFA VP Jackie Hirschhaut offers her advice. Hirschhaut notes that homeowners were initially “‘focused on creating outdoor spaces that complement our homes and lifestyles.’” After the pandemic, however, homeowners are focused on “‘creating outdoor spaces that supplement our sense of wellbeing.’” They must also “‘transform an outdoor area into an outdoor room.’”

#3 John McClain Points to the Outdoor Kitchen Trend

“‘[People] are looking for the exact same amenities that they currently have in their indoor spaces in their outdoor spaces.’” – John McClain for Forbes

In her article “Design Experts Predict These 5 Outdoor Living Trends” for Forbes, Julia Brenner quotes interior designer John McClain of John McClain Design. According to McClain, “‘the lines between indoor and outdoor design are blurring more and more.’” McClain notes that his clients “‘are looking for the exact same amenities that they currently have in their indoor spaces in their outdoor spaces.’” From outdoor fireplaces to “‘full kitchens with every appliance and amenity possible,’” McClain says that “‘outdoor entertaining areas are being kicked up a notch!’” 

#4 Diana Apgar and Dee Frazier Prioritize Extending the Outdoor Entertaining Season

“‘Often, just having a roof overhang is enough [because] there’s nothing like watching a good thunderstorm from the porch.’” – Dee Frazier for House Beautiful

Jessica Dailey quotes designers Diana Apgar and Dee Frazier of Decorating Den Interiors in her article for House Beautiful. According to Apgar, features that protect homeowners from the elements are essential for transitional indoor-outdoor entertaining between seasons. She notes that outdoor drapes are an easy way to “block harsh sun, protect from rain, keep in heat, or keep out bugs.”

 Diana Apgar explains that not only do “‘drapes define the space,”’ but they also add “‘privacy, sun protection, and color.’” A screened-in porch, awning or sunroom can also extend the outdoor entertaining season, notes Dee Frazier. Frazier explains that “‘often, just having a roof overhang is enough [because] there’s nothing like watching a good thunderstorm from the porch.’”

#5 Nate Berkus Suggests Carrying Your Style from Indoor to Outdoor

“‘The outdoor environment you create for a party should be in line with how you live inside.’” – Nate Berkus for Architectural Digest

In her article “6 Outdoor Entertaining Tips from Nate Berkus” for Architectural Digest, Amy Preiser interviews Chicago interior designer Nate Berkus. Berkus tells Preiser that “‘your style should be able to move outdoors seamlessly.’” He recommends blurring the lines even further by moving “‘your inside furniture and accessories outside…[because] it creates a real environment that guests will love.’” All in all, Nate Berkus notes that “‘the outdoor environment you create for a party should be in line with how you live inside.’”

Indoor-Outdoor Living Inspiration from Interior Designers Across America

“‘People are committing larger budgets for a comprehensive outdoor experience.’” – Phil Kean for Forbes

According to designer Phil Kean in a recent article from Forbes, people “‘are committing larger budgets for a comprehensive outdoor experience.’” These spaces much “‘cater to cooking, entertaining and everyday living.’” Underscoring all these amenities is a desire for creature comforts in outdoor living spaces — from cozy outdoor furniture to brick fireplaces and piled rugs. To create your own transitional indoor-outdoor living space, follow below for inspiration from celebrated designers like Peter Dunham and Christopher Farr. 

#1 Jefferson Street Designs Adds a Fireplace to a Screened-In Porch

This beautiful screened porch from Cindy Eyl of Jefferson Street Designs in Alexandria, Virginia is perfect for outdoor entertaining all year ‘round. Contrasting masonry patterns of stacked brick and chevron add interest to the wood-burning fireplace. Neutral-toned wood chairs recall two other major interior design trends of 2021 — Japanese and Scandinavian. A gray stone floor and pair of pillows upholstered in fabric from Peter Dunham Textiles make this indoor-outdoor living space feel fresh and fun. The Peter Dunham Textiles fabric seen here is Bukhara.

#2 Winding Lane Interiors Upgrades an Outdoor Dining Space with Formal China

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Julie Anne Baur of Winding Lane Interiors in Cincinnati decorates this deck with a slatted table, wicker chairs and an unexpectedly formal tablescape. The formal place settings and table runner make this outdoor space feel more like an indoor dining room than an al fresco eatery. Baur adds a pair of pillows upholstered in a vibrant botanical Schumacher fabric print to round out the look. Try Schumacher’s indoor-outdoor fabric in the print Citrus Garden for a similar style.

#3 Chapter Eight Design Turns a Concrete House into a Biophilic Dream

Ann Jones’ interior design company Chapter Eight Design — a design firm located in North Lanes of Brighton — created this stunning transitional space. Understated but powerful, this indoor-outdoor space includes a dining room that looks out onto a separate outdoor dining space. This rural home in Lewes was actually featured in a recent episode of the British architecture show Grand Designs. We love both the burnt orange bespoke window seat designed by Julie Adams and the upholstery by Christopher Farr. Find similar outdoor fabrics for outdoor living spaces by Christopher Farr here

#4 Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Peter Dunham Design a Retro Outdoor Dining Room

Designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Peter Dunham, this space was recently featured in Elle Decor. This stunning outdoor dining room features a table and chairs that nod to Danish mid-century modern furniture. Each chair is upholstered in Peter Dunham’s Sunbrella acrylic Nawab fabric in the Indigo / Sky colorway. Perfect for outdoors, Dunham’s indoor-outdoor Sunbrella fabrics are mildew and fade resistant as well as water repellant. Place settings with nautical blue and white stripes, tropical flowers across the table and dramatic overhead lighting complete the space. Shop the look here

#5 Lucas/Eilers Design Associates Turn a Secret Garden into the Perfect Date Spot

This rustic, “secret garden” dining space is last on our list of indoor outdoor living spaces. Fashioned by Sandra Drews Lucas and Sarah Brooks Eilers in Houston Texas, this space perfectly captures the wonder and beauty of nature. Transparent blue goblets recalling 1940s Depression Glass, monogrammed napkins and make the space feel special and formal without losing any charm. Fresh flowers — presumably from the garden — and roughly hewn folding chairs balance out the formality of the tablescape. We especially love the striking Brunschwig and Fils tablecloth on the dining table in this outdoor dining area. The tablecloth’s print is Brunschwig and Fils’ Zenobia Linen Print in Canton Blue / Green.

Written by Elizabeth Burton.