Backyard life, outdoor spaces have the comfort of indoor living
Outdoor spaces have the comfort of indoor living, with the added allure of being outside
Backyard life isn’t what it used to be. Once upon a time, a couple of aluminum folding chairs and a hibachi was an enviable suburban oasis. But that’s all changed now thanks to the innovations in solar fabrics, outdoor materials, digital printing and computer driven design. The hibachi has been replaced with a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, and the folding chairs have been replaced with substantial furniture pieces that echo the look and feel of your living room.
In the past, the backyard typically consisted of a garden where more vegetables grew than flowers. Whatever “yard’ remained was the grass where the kids and dog could play while mom watched from the kitchen sink window. There was a picnic table in the event the family wanted to eat outside in the warmer months. Then suddenly, the affordability of a pool in the backyard leapt from the most affluent to the middle classes. This prompted the need for landscaping, first to secure the pool, but then because friends and family congregated there. The fence around the pool evolved into the addition of large decks, paving stones, barbecues, sun bathing areas and the like.
Outdoor Lifestyle With Indoor Benefits
Suddenly, people were spending more time in their yards with friends and family, which prompted the need for a bigger barbecue, bigger outdoor table, and more room to lounge. As a result, the quality and comfort of the furniture needed to improve. We transitioned from furniture that was temporary, foldable and easily stored, to more solid pieces where the base structure stayed outside all year, while cushions got stored away. In those days, it was essential to store cushions; in fact if they were left in the rain, it could take days for them to dry out again.
With cushions spending more time outside, a UV-resistant fabric called Sunbrella became an essential element when choosing your outdoor cushions; that didn’t, however, help with foam issue. It took some time to create “flow-through foam,” which allows cushions to get wet in the rain, but still be useable in a short timeframe. The combination of fabric and foam ensures homeowners feel comfortable leaving furniture exposed to the elements with very little concern. It only needs to be stored away for the winter.
People are now creating outdoor living spaces that mirror their indoor living, starting with the kitchen. The outdoor kitchen is very similar to the indoor one, with granite countertops, outdoor refrigeration, drawers for specific barbecue tools, and a sink and faucet. The hibachi has been replaced by sophisticated gas appliances. The indoor kitchen may still supply the chef with herbs and spices, as well as an endless array of outdoor-friendly tableware, but the two spaces are essentially the same.
Now that we are using outdoors as we do the indoors, the desire for more comfortable, solid furniture has grown. We spend hours sitting outdoors, which can be uncomfortable on furniture built for short-term use. The ideal solution is solid yet comfortable outdoor furniture that could stay in place all-year long. For offseason, element-resistant pieces, the industry looked to the marine world for inspiration, which has been faced with a similar challenge for hundreds of years. This industry uses wood that is covered in many coats of Varathane, aluminum frames, marine-grade vinyl and Sunbrella fabrics. The storage issue remained, however. Perhaps, it can be solved in the same way it is on boats? When you buy outdoor furniture, you can also purchase marine-grade covers as well. The covers fit like a glove and protect the furniture completely throughout the winter months.
In essence, we are creating backyard spaces with furniture that looks and functions like our indoor furniture. In fact, many people decide not to buy the outdoor covers and move the furniture to the basement to replicate the same room there. No one would ever suspect the furniture was designed for outdoor use.
The addition of outdoor lighting, area rugs and accessories, means that people like me, not only do “IN-terior design but now also “OUT-erior design. The rules are exactly the same, except we never need to select a ceiling colour.
Extensive experience in residential, commercial and hospitality design. Principal of design firm Grafus Design Build, Glen Peloso is frequently in the media as design expert on the Marilyn Denis Show, and CHCH Morning Live, a contributor to Global Morning News, Breakfast Television Toronto, past series with HGTV and the Food Network, along with Radio and Blogs. Reporting on design trends from around the world, his work has been featured in various print publications throughout North America. Twitter: glenpeloso Instagram: glenpelosodesigner
Photography Courtesy Of Century One, Four Hands