Airy elegance: outdoor decor comes into its own

By Elaine Markoutsas
Universal Uclick

From all-weather wicker, modern mesh and other open weaves, to teak in all shades from honey to warm grays, to metal in sleek stainless steel, to rustic wrought-iron looks to a range of painted hues, the selection has never been greater or more stylish for outdoor furniture.

It reaffirms a desire for a seamless transition from well-appointed interiors to al fresco spaces. And it’s a transformation that’s become a little less rigid, following a more eclectic approach to mixing up materials rather than buying everything to match — which also makes it a bit easier to add single pieces such as a chair, ottoman or small table to freshen existing outdoor decor.

In the last year, particularly, there has been a fairly significant move to modern in outdoor furnishings, with a spike in contemporary accessories.

In addition, gray, especially weathered looks, is making a strong statement in frames. Some bright colors and patterns beautifully complement this new neutral. White also is gaining traction, both in matte and slick high-gloss finishes.

In fabrics, retro patterns are emerging as well as more engaging geometrics and vivid, stylized florals. And, of course, there’s been an infusion of color, from brights like lime and turquoise to mustard, saffron, oranges, corals and bright purples.

But there are so many ways to spruce up what you have, as well as to accessorize a new outdoor room.

You might start with a rug. As in interiors, a rug can anchor a seating group. They all can be hosed down for easy maintenance.
You might consider reviving tired cushions with new covers. Sunbrella fabrics are widely available for purchase by the yard on websites and a trend noted for at least a couple of years now, points to many buyers considering fade-proof, stain-resistant, mildew-proof fabrics.

Besides cushions and pillows (and slipcovers for worn or dated-looking dining chairs), curtains are another option for fabric, especially because of the ambiance they add. Hanging from a pergola or framing it, as the backdrop to a seating area, curtains lend a softness, perhaps billowing in the wind.