Take traditional design tools outdoors
Susan Dickenson -- Casual Living, March 1, 2009
The trend for the past few years has been and continues to be a move from the inside out. Here are some ideas for you to help your customers achieve their unique style as they move outside.
The most important step in this process is space planning. The traditional age-old method of sketching and drawing by hand has a counterpart in computer-aided design, a visual representation of the space. Companies with easy-to-use CAD systems you can implement include Icovia Space Planner, 3Dream, SmartDraw and The Board Space Planning Systems.
These programs help transform your business by allowing you to create perfect virtual images of outdoor designed rooms. These tools allow you to experiment by changing fabrics and colors, furniture and accessories, which ultimately helps your customers realize their goal of creating an outdoor living space that is a personal expression of their own style.
Before you begin the space planning process it is important to create a client profile by questioning their requirements, desires and the purpose of the outdoor space.
Once you understand the wishes of your customer and the current elements of the space, you can begin the space planning process utilizing the Principles of Design: balance, rhythm, emphasis, harmony and texture. Always consider the type of balance you want. Which focal point will be given prominence? Will the emphasis be one of color, height or a highlighted area? What will the first impression be when you view the completed outdoor living space?
When designing the outdoor living space consider formal, vertical lines that impress people or restful casual horizontal lines that represent how one feels when they look at the horizon. The best view of any outdoor room should be from the point of entry to evoke the feelings the design is communicating.
One simple way to bring traditional interior design techniques to the design of an outdoor space is simply by using fabrics to address the principles of design. For example, if your customer wants a casual relaxed feeling that you get when you enter a spa, choose neutral buff colors with a touch of blue green. You can mix and match solids, stripes and patterns to creatively design the outdoor space. Most fabrics come with coordinates. Many companies like Sunbrella and Outdura will provide these together to assist you in selection – one will be a solid, either flat or textured, the next a stripe, another perhaps a jacquard or an ikat. To finish up the collection you can add some trims, fringe, bullion, decorative tape or tassels. This systematic selection of fabric blends the design process together to create your customer’s individual style by utilizing interior design techniques for outdoor living spaces.
This is just another way to offer superior customer service and create a loyal following in your specialty casual furniture store. Have fun designing!