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HOW TO: Construct a Summer Room


By Paula Felps

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy an outdoor room. And, if you don’t already have one, what better time to create one?

After checking with your community association for restrictions and guidelines, screening in a porch, or even an apartment balcony, is the perfect way to move indoor comforts to the great outdoors without enduring some of the downsides of outdoor living, such as pests. Today’s flexible furnishings are designed to make the outside just as homey as the inside, and you can create a space that either complements your current one or takes on a personality all its own.

Decorate with a theme

Once you know what you’ll use to create your outdoor room, it’s time to think about some design elements.

“The current rage is to go Zen, Moroccan, Oriental, Balinese, Japanese, etc.,” says Ishrath Humairah of the design, painting, and arts blog, Wandering Mist. “Each of these themes has unique design elements.”

If none of those themes excite you, she suggests looking for inspiration locally.

“Take a walk in your neighborhood to pick up local accents such as wood, tree trunks, glass bottles, etc. to set up your own designer balcony,” Humairah says. “There is no end to what you can do.”

Special touches

Screens aren’t the only things that have changed — so have your finishing options. Among the essential final touches that Humairah lists are:

  • Plants: make sure you buy plants that thrive in your particular environment.
  • Lights: whether you want to hang twinkling fairy lights from IKEA or home-improvement stores or decorate with tea lights, this is a great way to add ambiance.
  • Art: you decorate your indoor space, why not your outdoor room? Think prints, mirrors, dried flower arrangements and more — whatever fits your style!

Sit and stay

Of course, regardless of how well designed it is, it won’t mean much if it’s not comfortable and homey. Kate Wolford of Dallas Market Center’s Outdoor Living division says that new materials have made outdoor furniture more comfortable, durable, and stylish. One of the hottest new materials is Viro, a weather-proof synthetic wicker that looks like natural fiber, but is engineered to resist fading, cracking, and moisture.

“Both the color and weave look like wicker, and it comes in different weaves, textures and widths,” Wolford says. “It’s very natural-looking and wears very well.”

Also new are outdoor beanbag types of chairs that sit in a low-to-the-ground frame. Designed for the outdoors, any water drains through it.

“There are a lot of new looks and materials that we’re seeing,” she says. “A lot of today’s outdoor designs look like indoor furnishings.”