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Kathy Peterson inspires outdoor decorating

Kathy Peterson expects to see more homeowners interested in decorating their outdoor spaces.

Celebrity design expert, author and national TV personality, Kathy Peterson expects to see more homeowners

interested in decorating their outdoor spaces.

“It’s pretty spectacular, what’s going on in the outdoor furniture industry,” Peterson said. “Because of the economy and the value of property today, it’s always beneficial if you extend your living space to the outdoors. You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money, but make your outdoor space a really beautiful place that’s going to welcome not only yourself and your family but your guests. It’s going to be a place you really want to hang out.”

Co-host of “The Balancing Act,” a home decorating show on Lifetime television, Peterson also has been featured as an expert on HGTV, DIY Network, TNN, Discovery channel, PBS and E!, as well as in newspapers, magazines and on Web sites. Since she wrote “Kathy Peterson’s Great Outdoor Decorating Makeover” in response to requests from publishers who saw an outdoor makeover she did for The Palm Beach Post, Peterson has paid closer attention to trends driving the niche.

Natural elements add to outdoor decor.

While complete outdoor kitchens set the path for some high-end homeowners, deep seating groups are allowing others to move conversation areas outside from traditional living rooms. Other trends she identified include: outdoor sleeping spaces with floating or canopy beds; larger scale outdoor furniture with clean lines; luxe designs, circular and curvy shapes; high back chairs offering shoulder support; sectionals; motion chairs and more comfort than ever. Trims and fringes also are available now to dress up outdoor pillows.

In regards to color for outdoor designs, Peterson finds most anything goes — ranging from black to bright statement colors, such as oranges and greens. Combining patterned and textured outdoor fabrics with natural elements like woven, bamboo and reeds, creates an organic look.

“I think the designers of outdoor furniture have really taken the cue from interior designers, adding fabrics for texture and softness,” Peterson said. “Outdoor furniture has changed so dramatically that it’s as elegant as the inside furniture, depending on what your budget is. So you can actually create your own pocket of calm or however you want to use that space.”

She related the experience of a wealthy cigar-smoking friend who created a “man space” outside the home he shares with his wife. His space includes outdoor furniture, a rug and a flat-screen outdoor TV. “He can go out and smoke a cigar and watch the football game or whatever on TV and it doesn’t infringe on the interior of the home,” she said.

When she makes special appearances or does press interviews, Peterson often emphasizes there are products made especially for outdoor uses – ranging from artwork, accessories, televisions and rugs to lamps that look like interior lamps. She tells her clients their choices have improved for elegant outdoor lighting, whether fixtures or ground lighting.

“Lighting is so key to creating ambience and can really upgrade your outdoor space for an evening of entertaining, which I do quite a bit,” Peterson said. “I always entertain my guests outdoors because I feel like it’s more comfortable for them. They don’t have to worry about spilling something on the sofa or the carpet. So it’s a little bit more casual but you can make it as beautiful as you want or change it out as often as you like.”

As a busy professional, she was among the many homeowners who had neglected her outdoor areas before taking the makeover challenge. The spending limit she worked with is a reality homeowners also face. “Everything was done on a budget of $250 or less, which is pretty challenging to do, especially if you’re used to working with big budgets and having carte blanche,” she said.


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