By Steven Athea
Living in Miami has given me a greater understanding of how to blur the lines of traditional gathering spaces.
South Florida has a unique way of bringing indoor activities outside. These days, it seems like I spend more time outside than I do in my own living room! I entertain friends, family and even clients in my patio area, so I know that keeping up with outdoor décor can be just as important as the look of my foyer.
Just because winter weather is upon much of the U.S., that doesn't mean that you need to bring your party indoors. Adding just a few new décor pieces and creative flare to your patio will transform it into an extended living space.
Here are seven tips for how to maximize your space, from layouts to accessorizing, giving your space an added design touch that will maximize your home's square footage:
1. Don't Be Afraid of Plastic
Usually the first thing that pops into people's minds when they think of a patio set is wicker furniture. Ditch the grandma décor and update with the times!
Outdoor décor has come so far in the last 20 years. Plastic furniture pieces have made a comeback and provide modern and sleek lines for a fraction of the cost. These pieces also are easy to maintain and clean even through harsh weather conditions, including snow and colder temperatures.
2. Consider the Alternatives
Many designers have also incorporated materials such as outdoor leather, rattan and Sunbrella fabric when creating their outdoor lines. I always recommend looking to see what types of materials were used to create your furniture, in order to be sure you can maintain the up-keep of the pieces.
3. Think like a Swiss Army Knife
When purchasing a new set, invest in multi-purpose pieces. For example:
- An outdoor bar area can double up as a buffet table when you have extra family and friends over.
- Small seat ottomans also come with built in storage, perfect for hiding your beach balls, paddleboards and floats.
- You can add pops of color by accessorizing your furniture with throw pillows that are interchangeable or hanging décor, such as festive lanterns or chic chandeliers.
4. Be Deliberate About Layout
When formulating the layout of your backyard space, remember that even the smallest of spaces needs a focal point. Create an inviting space by placing your furniture in a semi-circle for a good flow of conversation. Don't place your pieces so far from one another that your guests need to yell to speak to each other; rather, focus on finding unique settings for an easy flow.
Keep furniture around the perimeter of your outdoor space to maximize walkway room and always make sure there is adequate seating for guests. Mix and match by bringing in odd chairs and adding benches for additional seating. Another great accessory can be outdoor floor pillows. Place them around the coffee table for a laid back Mediterranean feel.
5. Plan For Your Purpose
One thing I love to do is have dinner parties under my gazebo. Great food and conversation can keep us outdoors all night long. When preparing for such an event it seems as though people tend to forget sizes when picking out furniture appropriate for their space.
Place dining tables diagonally to fit as many guests as needed. Keep in mind the size of your furniture: the bigger the furniture the less walking space there will be for guests.
Play with shapes and sizes of tables; they do not all need to be the same. Another great tip for outdoor gatherings is the use of stackable chairs. These can be put away in a pinch to create more space depending on the occasion.
6. Create a Central Space
A fire pit is a fun focal piece to add to your new outdoor living space. On extra chilly nights it is great to gather around and relax by the flames. Fire pits are easy to maintain and the glow provides a natural source of light. Whether it is a built-in pit within the ground or a movable one, the fire pit provides warmth to any area. It is even a great feature to entertain children, allowing them to roast marshmallows outside, letting their imaginations run free and feel like they are camping. The fire pit is a great investment that can be used throughout the year.
7. Take Advantage of Surroundings
You have natural elements all around you; you should use this to your advantage. Purchasing tree lights and hanging them throughout your gazebo and through your trees enhances the focal point and makes any space seem bigger. Tree lights aren't only for the holidays; you can change them out for colored lights during Christmas time or keep it simple with silver and white throughout the year.
There are many simple solutions to update your outdoor living space and make it one-of-a-kind. Work with what you currently have in your patio and add your unique sense of style. This holiday season, take advantage of the fresh air and entertain your guests outdoors by showing off all that your new and improved patio has to offer.
Steven Athea is the co-founder of Modani, a contemporary furniture store with locations across the U.S. Steven has a degree in Design and Architecture from The Architecture School of Antibes in France. He has designed and decorated several high-end night clubs and restaurants in Miami Beach. Steven's eye for design has helped launch Modani into a national success, attracting the attention of celebrities such as Sean Combs, the Kardashians and Lady Gaga.