Doctor of design
Staff Staff -- Casual Living, August 12, 2011
Q: Dear Dr. Margi,
My husband and I just bought our first home and have a wonderful backyard. It is very private and we don't know where to even begin as to decorating it. We are newly married and plan to have a family in the coming years, so it needs to be pretty, child-friendly and an expression of who we are. Our funds are limited and we know that we can't do it all at once. The area in question is a wooden patio floor and fence which needs to be painted or stained - we are not sure of which. We added on to the patio, have waited a year for the wood to settle and need to blend the new wood with the old. Help us please ... where do we start?
A: Dear Margo and Harry,
The design doctor prescribes a neutral palette for decking to expand space or a bold shade to create a focal point.
Color is your next dilemma. Do you want it to blend into nature or be the focal point? To expand space, blending it into the area is a better choice. You might want to go as neutral as possible, allowing your pretty accessories and plants to do their own work.
Q: Dear Dr. Margi,
We have a very small patio and need to furnish it on a very tight budget. Can you direct us as to where to spend our money and where we can skimp a bit?
A: Dear Mary and Frank,
I have always said, "Never skimp on where you walk, sit or sleep." Having said that, start with your flooring. Make sure you have protected the deck to give it not only a new look, but to add years of enjoyment.
Your sitting area is another place where I feel you need to spend your money. This is an area where you want to be comfortable and relax. Having purchased a lot of furniture over the years, I have also replaced a lot of furniture. It doesn't pay to buy quick fixes. If you can't buy it all at once, buy three seating pieces and then you can add to it as the budget allows. If you have room for a dining area, it doesn't have to match the seating areas. Create your own style and make it interesting. The table isn't as critical as the seating. If you have a card table, you can use that temporarily, with a cloth to the floor and seating as needed.
When looking for areas to save your money, end tables and coffee tables can also be created using large pots, glass tops with lighting or artificial plants inside. Those make a great addition. Don't forget to put pots of flowers around and look at your walls. Artwork on the blank wall gives a very finished feeling. If you are very creative, buy a large stretched canvas and create your own art work. Today you have so many affordable selections of large pieces of all-weather art work for the outdoors. It will change the look and add color.
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