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Backyard Getaways - Make Your Home
An Everyday Vacation!
by Gail McCauley
The solitude and comfort of home spells relief for today's hectic lifestyles.
This year, instead of a costly vacation that leaves merely fond memories,
why not invest in the creation of an outdoor living space that exudes
the ambiance of a permanent vacation in your very own backyard! Imagination
as well as the investment of time and creativity is the key to formulating
a retreat that entices lingering outdoors. Contrary to popular belief,
a homeowner does not have to be a design expert to create an exterior
living space that is functional and fashionable. Fashion an appealing
outdoor space by combining a few select amenities with personal touches
that reflect individual style. Determining how the outdoor area will be
used is a crucial step in the journey toward taking pleasure in outdoor
The addition of a garden trellis, decorative screen or tall shutters maximize
outdoor solitude where neighbors reside in close proximity. In addition
to shielding the area from unwanted sights and sounds, these decorative
enhancements allow for the introduction of interesting pattern and exciting
color within the space. Depending upon their fabrication; trellises, screens
and shutters may be painted with exterior paint that harmonizes with the
exterior facade of the home. Wood surfaces may be treated to solid
opaque or semi-transparent colored stain, depending upon the look you
are trying to achieve. High quality exterior wood coatings enhance the
natural texture of the wood and are formulated to resist peeling, blistering,
fading and the growth of mildew. For superior exterior durability, use
100% acrylic coatings - flats, gloss or semi-gloss - to create
the look and feel you desire. Today's exterior paints and stains
are available in contemporary color palettes ranging from vivid or washed
tones to updated neutrals or natural, earthy hues.
Consider furnishing the petite outdoor retreat with a small accent table and a
couple of airy, open back chairs; just enough to enjoy a morning cup of
coffee or a good book. Remember... these can be painted in complementary or
matching colors too, using high quality acrylic paints. Even vinyl or
other plastics can be painted, provided you use the right surface
preparation and choice of paints.
Specific considerations must be given to roomy exterior spaces that are
designed for frequent entertaining. Multi-functional furnishings provide
smart and chic answers to outdoor seating vignettes. For instance, storage
benches offer group seating as well as a home for seat cushions during
increment weather. Backless benches may be used for "in a jiffy"
extra seating, or as a decorative plant stand. Storage ottomans provide
not only storage, but can allow for temporary seating and serve as makeshift
tables during impromptu parties. Decorative paint techniques such as borders
and motifs can be applied to furnishings either freehand or with stencils
to accentuate a desired outdoor theme or harmonize with existing exterior
paint and trim.
Decorative elements may be utilized to enhance both oversized and compact
outdoor retreats. The popularity of outdoor fireplaces offering warmth
and ambiance (particularly during evening festivities) continues to surge.
If the fireplace does not offer a built-in hearth that accommodates seating
for a group of guests, consider the addition of a built in bench, comfortable
outdoor swing or rustic twig loveseat. Convert an outdoor fireplace into
a focal point with the application of a fresh paint palette that contrasts
with the exterior color scheme belonging to the home. The addition of
a glass topper to two pedestals or a large resin planter transforms decorative
pieces into a functional serving table by imparting a touch of the unexpected.
If the existing outdoor living space consists of furnishings that reflect
a weathered look, consider distressing the pieces with a special effect
paint finish to lend the appearance of age.
Regardless of whether the outdoor retreat consists of a petite iron balcony
that adjoins the master bedroom suite or an expansive cedar deck that
wraps around the perimeter of the entire home, an exterior living space
can be regularly enjoyed, often year round. Practical and aesthetically
appealing backyard getaways can be manipulated to blend with various styles
of décor, diverse layout and any size space. By gradually introducing
furnishings and accessories, a homeowner can produce the ultimate in customization
for the outdoor retreat.
Gail McCauley for the
Rohm and Haas Paint
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