Converting the outdoor room to suit the season
Cinde W Ingram -- Casual Living, 9/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
Jamie Durie, internationally celebrated landscape designer, horticulturalist, author and television personality, continues to cultivate ideas about how homeowners can develop outdoor living areas. He sows those seeds of ideas in American audiences as host of "The Outdoor Room," which launched on HGTV in 2010.
"A well-planned outdoor space not only adds value to our homes, but enhances our well being and lifestyle by connecting us with nature," said Durie, a native of Australia who has been featured in more than 50 primetime TV programs worldwide. As an author, his nine best-selling books include "Jamie Durie's The Outdoor Room," "The Outdoor Room and Patio - Garden Designs and Inspiration" and "Outdoor Kids." He is encouraging a new generation to rediscover the outdoors.
What may have started as a trend has found fertile ground and grown during the tough economic downturn as people turned toward staycations and invested in furnishing their backyards as outdoor living areas.
"Outdoor kitchens, dining rooms and general entertaining spaces will continue to flourish," Durie predicted.
The process of how homeowners create their outdoor roo ms varies widely. "For some it organically flows from the starting point of getting a barbecue outside and it kind of extends from their cooking, dining, entertaining and then lounging," Durie said. "Others like to plan first then set it all up, and then comes the living!"
When asked which components are crucial for creating outdoor rooms, Durie said he considers the intended use and space as he advises homeowners to keep it personal.
"The important components are gauged by your own lifestyle and the kind of living/activities that one likes to do outdoors," he said. "It also depends on how much space each individual has in their backyard to be able to determine whether you separate areas for different functions or whether you combine all activities in the same area."
In an increasingly urba n, space-pressured environment, an outdoor space is as important as an indoor space, Durie said. Just as much emphasis should be placed on renovating the garden as renovating the kitchen or bathroom or any other room inside, he advised. By planning outdoor spaces well and spending some time to create a space that is an extension of the home and homeowner, that space becomes another room to live in.
Retailers and designers can help consumers by thinking of all the options they cater for interiors and converting those options for outdoor use, he said.
"The interest in modern technology like stereo systems, Internet access and televisions/ outdoor cinemas adds to the growing trend of taking what we love doing inside to the outside," Durie said. "There has been some pretty good, functional outdoor lighting available for a while, but the trend now is toward more beautiful, decorative and ambience-enhancing lighting coming to the fore in the next few years. As the desire to spend more time living outdoors grows, good lighting extends the hours we can all live outdoors so suppliers are using their imagination to come up with lots of creative options."
Core products consumers should have or purchase to furnish their outdoor rooms include a dining setting, lounging setting, an umbrella or shade system, barbecue, functional and decorative lighting, a heater or firepit, an outdoor rug and weatherproof cushions for comfort. In fact, comfort is key for homeowners who want to transition their outdoor rooms for year-round use, Durie said.
"Just put a lot of thought into all the wonderful ways you can bring a sense of comfort and luxury into your outdoor space and also think about storage for items outside so you have ease of access to everything you might need so you are not running into the house every five minutes," he said.
TRANSITIONING BETWEEN SEASONS
An increasing number of outdoor heating products - such as firepits, fire tables, outdoor fireplaces as well as gas-, electric-and ethanol-fueled heaters - promise more options for the years to come. "Again, good heating outdoors enables us to extend our time spent outdoors," he said.
When asked how he would advise consumers for selecting the right heating product to suit their outdoor room, Durie said that depends on personal preference and how hands-on they want to be. "Some options require less maintenance than others, some have more ambience than others and some options are more environmentally friendly than others," he said.
To easily switch outdoor areas from warm weather uses to increasingly cooler weather, Durie suggested homeowners bring out "heaters and firepits, candles and lanterns for that cozy feel. Hot water bottles with covers, baskets storing blankets and th rows, outdoor rugs, sheepskins or faux fur rugs thrown onto furniture to snuggle into. Why not even try making a faux fur hammock!" Serve warming drinks and food to keep things cozy.
Other tips for increasing enjoyment of outdoor spaces during cold months involve imagination. For example, an adventurous homeowner can "create a Moroccan casbah experience inside a cozy tent with a plush rug underfoot and lots of floor cushions, blankets and candle lanterns."
To transition from the cold season as the weather warms? "Just put it all in reverse," Durie said. "Add an ornamental water feature to add the trickling sound of cooling water, a fan or misting machine. Pare back on lots of fabrics and soft furnishings and stick to crisp, cool, cottons and linens. Hang sheer muslin panels on tree branches to catch the summer breezes and don't forget some lovely chimes or plants that make tranquil rustling sounds. Add tropical fragrant flowering plants to revive the senses. Ice buckets with cool drinks and food at hand."
His landscape design experience leads Durie to expect efficiency and sustainability to continue their rise in importance. "Popularity for low-maintenance landscapes, native plants, water-efficient irrigation, ornamental water features and food/vegetable gardens, permeable paving, reduced lawn and rainwater harvesting will continue to grow," he said.
Earlier this year, he launched the Garden Design with Jamie Durie app for iPhone. "With this app I really wanted to demystify the process of designing an outdoor living space, to make the ideas and the ‘how to' accessible to everyone to work with and enjoy," he said. "Whether people who use the app are well-seasoned gardeners or just a beginner, this app will give them all the tools and inspiration they need to create their own ideal outdoor room sanctuary."
In the United States, Durie's show "The Outdoor Room" is in its fourth season of production. He also appears on "White Room Challenge" and hosts other HGTV programs such as "Dream Home," "Green Home," "Bang for Your Buck," "Showdown" and America's longest-running gardening program, "The Victory Garden," which airs on PBS.
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