It’s Time To Get Outside: Margaret Chambers Has Tips For Making Your Outdoor Space an Extension of Your Home

Every spring I face a dilemma: What do we do about our back deck? We’ve tried a lot of different things to make it more inviting — having a corner bench built, putting up a Coolaroo shade, adding plants, putting down an all-weather rug — and still, when the summer starts to peak, we head inside.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Margaret Chambers, founder of Chambers Interiors, has some great tips for making your outdoor space a spot you’ll gravitate toward all year long:

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Outdoor living spaces have become more popular in the last ten years. If you are fortunate enough to have a covered patio, balcony, or deck, there are many clever ways that you can turn these spaces into exciting outdoor entertaining rooms. Whether you already have an outdoor area or are planning on building one, keep these helpful hints in mind.

A fireplace and small, inconspicuous heaters on the ceiling can add warmth in the fall and winter months. For the spring and summer months, ceiling fans are a must. If the budget permits, you might want to install misters in the ceiling.

Consider an outdoor grilling area, a small refrigerator, and an ice maker in your outside kitchen for entertaining a large group. You can also ice down drinks using galvanized aluminum tubs. An old pine armoire on a covered porch can be handy for storing your party accessories, games, and extra towels.

If your outdoor area is still in the planning stages, remember to make electrical outlets conveniently located for table lamps. Even if you don’t have electrical outlets on your patio walls, you can create lighting with hanging lanterns and candles. If your patio isn’t covered, look for a tent made out of awning fabric, possibly in a bold stripe. You can also add shade with umbrellas over tables, or place a picnic table under a shaded tree.

Exterior living spaces look best when they are an extension of your interior style and color. Decorating a large outdoor space may seem like a daunting task, but thankfully, outdoor fabrics have come a long way in the past few years. There are now a wonderful array of colors, patterns and textures for you to choose from.

Furniture that is made of teak, redwood, and rust-resistant iron is perfect for around the pool. Wicker furniture can be damaged by direct sunlight, so make sure to keep real wicker in the shade. If your patio is not covered, look for the more durable vinyl or resin wicker instead.

When I’m selecting outdoor furniture, I like to mix styles. In this Hill Country-style home that is pictured, I chose dark brown wicker furniture and twig end tables.

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In this charming chateau, notice the solid iron chairs, the custom-sized mosaic coffee table, and the cast stone supports on all four corners. At the far side of the patio, iron side and wicker end chairs surround a wood-topped dining table. The furniture is made of five different materials in three coordinating fabrics. As a general rule, the larger the space you’re decorating, the more materials you can mix and match without it looking too busy. Although larger spaces need the variety, I recommend using either all terracotta pots or all cast-stone pots for plants — using both can look disjointed.

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Accessories can really bring the space to life and give it personality. Use them to create a theme: for example, a bowl topped with seashells, a rope hammock between two trees, and party napkins with a coral or lobster design will suggest Maine’s seaside landscape. You can create many settings with your accessory choices, though— the combinations are endless. Don’t be afraid to get creative and make your outdoor spaces the perfect places to entertain!

With over 60,000 hours of interior design career experience, Margaret Chambers has received numerous awards from the American Society of Interior Design, has been named a Best Designer by D Home in Dallas for over seven years and has been a featured designer in over two dozen publications including Traditional Home, Texas Home & Living, and Dallas Modern Luxury to name a few. Chambers’ experience, innate talent, and studies of classic Europe enable her to confidently mix different styles, techniques, and cultures. You can view her portfolio at www.chambersinteriors.com.