By CYNTHIA SCHUSTER EAKIN
Spring your outdoor spaces back to life for the patio season by taking advantage of these affordable and often simple tips from the experts.
As the snow melts and the temperature warms, several steps can be taken to give your outdoor space a new look and reinvigorate it in time for spring, according to Michael Beightol, project manager for Exscape Designs.
“The backyard space has really developed into an extension of the house,” he said. “The patio is more than just a space for a table and chairs. It has become usable square footage and requires the thought that you would put into your home. The first thing we ask our clients is how they plan to use their outdoor space. If a family loves to dine together outside, we try to give them a dining room outside by adding a structure over an existing patio, with lighting built into the structure or a chandelier hung from an overarching beam. If a family really loves to grill, we add electrically heated walkways to give access to the grill in the winter months without having to shovel snow out of the way.”
“For a family that wants to be able to enjoy their outdoor space throughout the day, fire features are a great way to lengthen their time together and provide heat, light and aesthetic to the space,” Beightol explained. “There are a variety of ways to add fire to your space, ranging from traditional metal fire bowls to modern, prefabricated concrete linear burners, to rustic masonry fireplaces.”
“Money can play an important role for someone who is just seeking a new look without scrapping what they have already spent time and money on,” he said. “Materials can be anything from a new paving element, shrubs and perennials, decorative structures or coordinated potted plants. New paving can come in many forms and can add space or can be used as a new color inlay to an existing patio. Planting material can be added to give new color, scents and texture. Decorative structures like screen panels, sculpture or fountains can make your space seem totally new and unique. Even just adding a new family of pots with herbs or annuals can add a flair of color and style.”
“The trends for landscape design evolve like any other fashion trend and there is something out there for everyone’s taste,” Beightol suggested. “Look in magazines and online and talk to a professional to understand what could make your existing space new again.”
Robert Duritza, manager of Petitti Garden Center in Strongsville noted, “We are seeing a lot of new trends in color. Here in Northeast Ohio, we utilize a lot of neutrals in patio furnishings. Now, we are seeing a lot more blues. We’re also seeing a lot of orange, pink and lime green. The bright, vibrant colors cheer us up, especially after a long, grey winter.”
“People are dressing up their patios with bright umbrellas and pillows. They are kind of the jewelry of the patio group,” he said. “By changing out these items, you can keep up with the up-and-coming trends without going to a lot of expense. If you have patio furniture that is still in good shape, but you want to try something new, you can update your look by special ordering new cushions and pillows. Then, you can tie in to the accent colors with your pottery and flowers, creating an explosion of color.”
Duritza said product changes include touches of taupe in aluminum furniture finishes, which have traditionally been black. This gives the furniture a look of wood, with the durability of aluminum. Today’s wicker patio furniture combines a traditional weave with a thicker weave, offering a two-tone look. The Moor’s chair is a low recliner with an ottoman, deep-seating and an adjustable back, giving it a lounge chair feel. “It quickly becomes dad’s chair on the patio,” Duritza said.
“Lanterns are extremely popular this season,” he added. “People hang them off of a shepherd’s hook in the garden or off of their patio umbrella. They are kind of like a chandelier on the patio, creating an interior design look. Many lanterns have lights that can be turned off and on automatically.”
Gas fire pits are another hot item, according to Duritza. Unlike wood-burning fire pits, the gas can be shut off when you go back into the house at the end of the evening, so you do not have to worry about open flames overnight.
Artisan Bruce DeMarco of Tables-BDI builds beautiful, durable, fine-crafted tables designed for outdoor dining.
“I have been building tables for 40 years,” he said. “My most cherished memories are those of my family sitting around my grandmothers’ tables enjoying long dinners that were not only filled with delicious food, but with lively, loving and passionate Italian-style conversations. Although these tables were humble in their makeup, they were the focal point of our family life.”
“My goal has always been to craft tables that are sturdy and comfortable to sit at and that can endure and accommodate hours of family and friends sitting together,” DeMarco explained. “There is nothing more irritating than sitting at a wobbly table, with glasses and dishes moving all over the place. All of my tables are designed for optimum seating and dining space. Thought is given to a design that does not obstruct the diner’s leg position and does not limit their leg movement. Often, commercially built tables look nice for a year or two, and then the repairs and touch-ups begin.
DeMarco builds his tables from a variety of materials, including Ohio-harvested white oak and bamboo. “Bamboo can be harvested every three to five years. It is believed that a significant increase in the use of bamboo could help in reversing the effects of global warming,” he said. BDI tables can also be constructed from bamboo composite made from bamboo fibers and recycled plastic. Brazilian Ipe used in tables is purchased from dealers that are authorized by the Rainforest Alliance to sell Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-approved lumber. The FSC works to promote responsible forest management worldwide.