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Outdoor Decor


Decide on your decorative style and stick to it. This will help you make choices about everything from furnishings to shapes. The art of mixing and matching comes easily when you pull from visual patterns, textures and layers found in nature.

Following furniture lines is a clever way to extend design schemes from room to room. A circular table can benefit from a round chair. Round decorative items in the next room results in visual continuity. The same is true of color. Tone-on-tones are fantastic indoors when you incorporate different textures such as faux fur, cable knit, linen and cotton. Duplicate these principles outdoors: all-season, all-weather materials can benefit when mixed together, from canvas to cotton to linen. Another way to add a touch of luxury to a casual space is to use fabrics as you would indoors, such as tossing a light blanket over a sectional. (You’ll have to bring the blanket in each night to protect it from the elements.)

Never, ever buy a furniture set unless you want your home to look like a showroom. Instead, mix and match, letting a color or texture be your guide. Iron can be mixed with teak and all-weather wicker can be blended with limestone. Your out- door room will look and feel organic, not like something that was shipped in and installed. Decide on focal points. Focal points are important because they dictate the flow of your space. Each outdoor space should have a least one area to focus on. It could be as simple as a view of the garden, pool or lawn. Either embrace an existing
view or create one just as you would inside your home.

Do you want to look at the neighbor’s garage or your garden? Hopefully your garden! Always arrange rooms to direct attention to vistas that you can control and away from anything unpleasant. I’ve made sure in my own home that you are looking at something I want you to see – the Garden Studio, a garden bed, a grove of trees – rather than a fence, a driveway or a road.


Daylight hours are no problem, but night needs some help. Candlelight is good but should never be your only source; candlelight is best – and most practical – when it’s an accent. If you’ll be entertaining most often at night I strongly suggest up-lighting or spotlighting parts of your garden or home in addition to the outdoor room itself. Why? You don’t want your views and focal points to disappear. In fact, spot lighting might allow you to create a focal point at night where none exists during the day. The best way to find these focal points, such as a single tree, is to walk your property at night with a powerful hand-held flashlight. Shine the light, step back and observe. Consider up-lighting for trees and your home’s standout architectural details. Reserve low lighting for walkways and steps.

Carefully choose your lighting hardware (including a timer/power source), and consider wiring options. Just like icing on a cake, I recommend doing this last. Design the accent lighting around the space, not the space around the lighting.

My own home, Rosebrook Gardens, has been photographed for many local and national magazines. It also serves as the backdrop for the FOX Connecticut lifestyle show, Northeast Living, which I lost. Whenever my home appears on camera or in print I get a round of emails, Facebook friend requests and Twitter tweets with wonderful comments and questions such as, “Where did you get that? and “I love your style!” and “Come fix my place!” So this season open your doors to the bonus rooms waiting to be discovered outside. Expand your space and your life! And there you have it.

Mar Jennings is a lifestyle expert and the host of Northeast Living on FOX CT.

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