I’m a believer in creating dramatic and indulgent living areas out of outdoor spaces, so I want to share one of my recent projects with you. At the “Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House” in New York City, I designed two outdoor patios. A concept house is slightly different than a show house. With the show house designers often have free reign to use any of their vendors/craftsman to work to supply products or services for the house. With the concept house we have designated sponsor brands from which we’re requested to choose products to help realize the vision. Having to fully furnish the outdoor space, I lucked into a sponsor that was a perfect fit, Restoration Hardware. They have an amazing selection of outdoor furniture and accessories, and believe me I took full advantage.
Where to start? I had an empty space that’s a perfectly blank canvas, and it was all up to me. Usually a client’s needs, wants and hopes for the space help drive the design. Here, it was just me, dreaming!
Now that I was the client, what did I want? I wanted clean, with a little bit of Hollywood and definitely color! First, I made a list of what purposes the space had to serve in the same way I would do for client. I wanted a dining room, a conversation area, a lounging area and an outdoor kitchen. Checking with the condominium, I found out that outdoor grilling was not allowed, so that nixed the outdoor kitchen. On to the other rooms and onto my computer to create a floor plan with my trusty Restoration Hardware catalog beside me.
Looking at the plan, it became clear what element would pose the design challenge. It is a common one with outdoor spaces, the HVAC units, never a pretty thing to look at. So, onto the plan went outdoor walls which allowed me to define the dining space, hide the HVAC, add lighting with wall sconces and utilize sponsor brand Farrow & Ball‘s great new outdoor paint.
Babouche #223 – I love the color (and the name)!
The next space needed to define a lounging area. I was delighted to find this spectacular cabana from Designlush painted in a metallic gold Ferrari car paint that would shimmer in the light. My workroom. MT Custom, added operable operable sunshades, allowing a choice of shade or sun.
I thought would be fun to show the process of the assembly. The Cabana’s architect/artisan, Matthew Shively, a VP of DESIGNLUSH, flew in from Kentucky for the installation. Those guys are all about a great service experience to go with their great design. As you can see, it’s all modular and fit my space perfectly.On to furniture. When I opened the catalog from Restoration Hardware the first thing I saw was the Mulholland collection. Wow! Gorgeous.
This started the ball rolling. Low and sleek. Great lines. Excellent materials, too.
Behind one of the new yellow walls is the HVAC unit for the apartment. I installed another wall parallel to that one on the opposite side, creating a dining room effect. I used mirrors outside in the same way I would with a dining room on an interior project. Mirrors create dimension, expand the space, reflect light and make the space appear larger than it actually is.
Now the daybeds. Along with the standard mattress-like cushion, I added two additional cushions along the back in the matching fabric, which were designed to go on ottomans they offer at Restoration Hardware. These repurposed cushions created a back to lean against, much like a sofa, yet everything still can be moved around to use it as a daybed.
The occasional table is actually a propane tank cover from Restoration Hardware. To customize it and add color I had a piece of blue Plexiglas cut to fit. This is how you can take something ready-made and make your own.
Last but definitely not least and probably the most important part of an outdoor space is the landscaping. Just like choosing the fabric, choosing your plantings will provide color, texture and pattern to the space.
With the help and guidance of landscape designer Jeffrey Erb I was able to add so much life to the layering of the space. Through the use of different heights and a wide variety of plants, we created a cohesive landscape in an urban setting.
Even outdoors, it is always important to have the right artwork. To me, this truly defines a person’s individualism and personality. I chose this gorgeous sculpture by Charlie Hewitt. Placed centrally in the space where it could be appreciated not only from the terrace but the interior as well.
One last note – here’s the little space I did at the front entry of the townhouse. Yes, that is an outdoor wing chair (cool!), which along with the fountain, planters and lanterns came from Restoration Hardware. Another mirror expands this little nook, while a curtain made of outdoor sheer fabric from Kravet adds softness and privacy to this sidewalk-facing space. The tree and shrubs make it feel anything but urban.