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Cinde W. Ingram

CherylStyle extends outdoors

Keeping relaxed, no-fuss entertainment in mind

The 1920s SpanishThe 1920s Spanish Reformation style of architecture at Cheryl Najafi ’s home allows seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor areas.
Reating stress-free outdoor living areas at home was important to Cheryl Najafi , founder of Cheryl- Style media company, mother of three and New York Times bestselling author of "You're So Invited: Panic Less, Play More and Get Your Party On."
     "I really see it as a big trend," Najafi said. "Everywhere I go people are talking about how can they take it outside?" She encourages people not to be afraid to take some indoor furnishings or dinnerware outdoors while hosting an event. "Bringing those things outside during nice weather really helps to create a really comfortable space."
     She and her husband have built four houses together and with each one, she said, outdoor spaces were extremely important. "As soon as I look at a floor plan, my eye goes to the outside access and functional attributes," she said. "Without outdoor living, I would feel trapped. At every opportunity, we have created spacious outdoor living spaces so we can enjoy nature's offerings."
     Najafi had cut out images from magazines and books that she shared with her architect, designer and builder to create a home that combines function with beauty. They decided on a 1920s Spanish Reformation style of architecture, which includes several covered patios in keeping with the design of the time. Because of the importance of shade in th
Cheryl Najafi , founderCheryl Najafi , founder of CherylStyle media company and New York Times bestselling author.
e desert, they built the house to have a northern exposure and kept the patio away from the sun's harshest heat.
     "It is beautiful in Arizona eight months out of the year, so we created a ‘living room' outside under a covered patio," she said. "I feel like we spend more quality time outside together than we do inside. The children play in the yard and my husband and I sit and enjoy a glass of wine or work on our laptops while we watch them. We can relax, and the children can get as rambunctious as they like. It is truly our go-to space in the house."
     Their outside room is approximately 150 square feet to allow for functions as a living room, bar and dining room. The indoor/outdoor bar enables easy entertaining. Misters were installed to bring the temperatures down during the warmer months. Windows fully retract to open up the bar, but can be closed when the party ends to keep everything clean and away from the elements.
     "We wanted to make certain we had complete open access from the house to the outdoor living room," Najafi said. "So we installed retractable doors and continued the tile all the way to the end of the patio outside so that when the doors are fully open, it is almost impossible to tell where the main house ends and the patio begins."
     Although Najafi stayed involved in every decision made about the design and structure of her home, she credits her architect, designer and builder with helping to implement her vision for the home. "My designer, Karen Rapp, took me to several showrooms where I could sit on the furniture and feel the fabric sw
Outdoor dining addsOutdoor dining adds fun to meals at the Najafi home.
atches," she said. "I chose fabrics that felt like they belonged indoors. With the evolution of the new outdoor fabrics, you can't tell the difference between indoor and outdoor fabrics anymore. Gone are the days of scratchy, uncomfortable outdoor furnishings. Our outdoor furniture is some of my favorite in the whole house."
     Another trend she recognizes involves younger families using outdoor fabrics for use indoors "because it's so kid-friendly," she said.
     She described an overall trend toward relaxed lifestyles replacing "a generation of very formal entertaining where you would set a table of white linen and napkins with your best china. We just don't entertain that way anymore. We don't live that way anymore. No one dresses up to fly. No one is wearing hats. It's just not a formal lifestyle. Home entertaining has kind of been the last effort to be formal. We're kind of in this no-man's land where we want things to look nice and we're pulled into our mother's generation where we feel like we have to pull out the best." As a result, today's homeowners feel frustrated and uncomfortable with entertaining. She recommends mixing and matching formal things (inherited or not) with everyday ones to add a sense of special ness to the table. "The more eclectic it is, I think the hipper you look," Najafi said.
     Readers of Najafi 's latest book and visitors to her website at have followed her advice for stress-free entertaining. When asked what advice she would give other homeowners who want to create outdoor living areas for no-fuss entertaining at home, she was quick to make suggestions.
     "The secret to a great outdoor space is a cover," she said. "It not only defines your space, but keeps your furniture and fabrics away from the elements. Northern exposure works beautifully in our desert climate, however consider what exposure would work for the months you will use the space."

Mixing and matching
Mixing and matching traditional with informal elements makes guests feel comfortable and rids unattainable expectations of being the perfect host.
Home entertaining should be stressfree, but can include bringing indoor elegance outdoors.
Home entertaining

     For example, she said a western exposure worked best for her family's home in Utah, where temperatures are much cooler than Arizona. "That way we can soak up the warm afternoon sun during the crisp, cool days. Another thing to consider is how you are going to use the space," she said. "Would you dine more outside or sit and sip wine or read a book? This decision will help determine whether you choose a sofa or a dining table for your space. If you want to do both, a porch swing makes a wonderful addition to the outdoor space without a large footprint."
     She mentioned breakfasts at her home are especially fun to eat outside when the air is cool and crisp.
     "Entertaining outside should be stress-free and super casual, but that doesn't have to translate to paper plates and red Solo cups," she said. "Don't be afraid of taking some of the inside comforts outside for the night. Mix it up and your guests will feel right at home. And isn't that what entertaining is all about?"

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