The Open Air Parlor

Tips for Treating Your Outdoor Living Spaces Like an Extension of Your Home

As the Atlanta weather settles into the cozy upper 60’s, 70’s, and low 80’s, Mother Nature reminds us that it’s high time to think about entertaining outside. With a great deal of emphasis placed on creating inviting outdoor living spaces in recent years, it’s a snap to take it a step beyond the simple construction of a deck or covered porch and the laying of a patio. While the builders at Highlight Homes can help you create the foundation for the right outdoor living space to fit both your home and your needs, we turn to our designers for tips on how to transform that blank canvas into what will likely become your favorite “room” of the house – the open air parlor…

    Something as simple and economical as a market umbrella not only adds a shield from the sun and lovely decorative touch, it can also enhance a sense of privacy in your outdoor oasis.Go With the Flow: Your outdoor living space should serve as a visually pleasing extension of the rest of your home. The furniture and accessories you select should reflect the décor style that exists within your home while complementing the construction style of the exterior of your home. For instance, if you live in a Colonial-style home and the décor of your interior is traditional – chances are you will want to continue that theme outdoors with classic vs. contemporary furniture using colors that will complement the colors in the rooms just off the entry to this space. Remember, it can be viewed from the windows. That said, if your home is more contemporary in style and décor – you’ll want to find trendy outdoor furniture and accessories to match. If you’re an eclectic decorator, have fun with it – anything goes!
    What Are YOU Looking At?: An ugly truth that came out of the construction boom of the last decade is that on a whole, building lots shrunk across the board. Homes were built closer together, with many homeowners’ kitchen and bedroom windows overlooking their neighbors’ backyards. In order to add a sense of privacy to your outdoor oasis, you have a number of options. Market umbrellas come in a number of sizes and can shield you and your guests from not only the sun’s rays, but also from the unwanted eyes of nosy neighbors from an upstairs window. A well-positioned privacy screen or trellis with a climbing vine can add a sense of seclusion and enclosure, while blocking the view from your neighbors’ kitchen sink. A screened   enclosure or pavilion roof over an existing patio can help you feel a little more isolated, and can help protect your outdoor furniture from the elements at the same time.
    Dress it Up: Your outdoor furniture shouldn’t have to do ALL of the work. Instead of having a boring stagnant space with little to no personality, why not dress it up with throw pillows, accessories, plants and flowers?  There are entire websites, departments and stores dedicated to outdoor living – go have a blast!  Do you have an outdoor wall clock?  If not, maybe you should! Does your outdoor furniture just scream “Have a seat and kick back?” If not, maybe it’s time to make them look more inviting with beautiful throw pillows. With so many pillows and outdoor rugs being created in weather- and fade-resistant fabrics, there’s no excuse not to make the Great Outdoors seem even greater with cozy, homey touches. Don’t forget terrific accessories to adorn your tabletops, and beautiful plants and flowers to remind your guests that they are – indeed – outside.
    Set the Mood: Once you’ve set the stage, it’s time to set the mood with great lighting – the perfect addition to an al fresco dinner party under the stars. From lights strung on the pergola above and tiki torches along the deck railing to candlelit lanterns on the tabletop and the glow of the fire from the chiminea – make sure you have enough light with a trial run a few nights BEFORE the dinner party, so you don’t leave your guests out in the dark. If you have a covered porch or screened enclosure, a stunning wrought iron chandelier and outdoor fireplace with flat screen TV overhead may provide all the light you need. Speaking of setting a mood, nothing does it like “mood music”! There are a number of outdoor stereos on the market or you can pipe music from inside your home through outdoor speakers (some are even disguised as rocks!) to help you do just that!

If you like what you’ve read, but need some help creating that foundation first – contact the talented team at Highlight Homes for a no-obligation consultation by calling 678.873.9234, by e-mailing, or by filling out our convenient online contact form. For more design trends and tips, plus the latest Highlight Homes news,  be sure to visit our blog regularly, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and/or join our monthly newsletter mailing list.  Now… go outside and play!!!!

Image Credit: RED UMBRELLA – © Susan Quinland-stringer –

The Open Air Parlor