It’s a Picnic

Design Tips

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It’s a Picnic

Temporarily decorate outdoor spaces with your interior pillows/rugs. Design: CLOTH & KIND | Photo by Sarah Dario
Temporarily decorate outdoor spaces with your interior pillows/rugs. Design: CLOTH & KIND | Photo by Sarah Dario

Whether you’re enjoying a late summer evening on the patio or having a pool party on a hot July day, our outdoor spaces are ideal when hosting family and friends during the warm summer months. We asked some of the area’s top designers to share their top priorities when creating outdoor spaces their clients will love for many summers to come.




Temporarily decorate your outdoor spaces when hosting friends and family by bringing indoor pillows out, using table runners, and even taking your indoor area rugs out to soften hardscapes (a bonus feature – these products are aired out a bit after a long winter inside). Trust us, you needn't fear bringing your textiles outside. They will add infinite amounts of comfort, color, and texture, and create an ambiance as welcoming as your family room so people will want to linger well into the wee hours! Add vases with fresh-cut floral from your garden. There isn't any formula. Just clip what looks lovely to you and group them in a simple vase or even a fun glass. Lastly, lighting is key. There is an abundance of gorgeous and fun outdoor lighting on the market now, from hurricanes to strands of exposed bulbs. Get your ladder out and have some fun stringing them up in the trees and thinking about surrounding your primary outdoor space in a halo of golden light. 
– Krista Nye Nicholas and Tami Ramsay, CLOTH & KIND

When designing an outdoor space primed for hosting guests, try to incorporate multiple areas designated to please all types of personalities. Whether a shade lover or a sun worshipper, a great outdoor entertaining space should be able to accommodate everyone to ensure that the party lasts for hours. 
Rita O’Brien, Rita O'Brien Design Group

When having friends and family over for an outdoor dinner, the use of only one 'family-style' table helps create an intimate feeling for guests. Using a variety of linens and dinnerware adds to the feeling of casualness while providing more opportunity for texture and color. Casual, fresh-cut garden flowers make great arrangements, but be sure to thoroughly wash the plants to prevent unwanted insects on the table. When hosting a large group for an outdoor meal, remember to enlist some additional help for transporting plates, food, etc. back and forth from the kitchen.
 Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design



The outdoor space above is just steps away from the kitchen, which makes for quick and easy replenishing of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Pillows and a graphic statement rug take ordinary patio furniture to a new level. Most outdoor furniture comes with a plain, neutral fabric and can be dull if not accompanied by the right furnishings or accessories. Custom ordering more colorful fabrics is always an option, but you can also make a big impact by employing a playful indoor/outdoor rug, a grouping of vibrant pillows and art to create a lively and inviting outdoor space. Terry Ellis, Room Service Interior Design

Smart home features are a fantastic way to enhance interior spaces, but when installed outdoors, they can take our entertainment possibilities through the roof. The 9-foot screen television structure can be seen from the patio, outdoor kitchen area, and even inside of the home through exterior windows due to an advanced audio system that consists of multiple speakers in sync throughout the interior and exterior spaces. The pavilion itself is fitted with a retractable glass overhead door to seal the area from the weather as well. Barbi Krass, Colorworks Studio

Adding water and fire elements into your outdoor spaces works with nature and creates a warm and restful space. Ponds and waterfalls with rock and accent lighting create a relaxed environment for you and your guests. The soothing sounds of the water is great, and fire elements consisting of fire pots in interesting sculptural shapes create additional lighting, as well as an insect repellent. Fire tables bring conversation areas together, all while adding warmth on a chilly night.
 Margaret Skinner, Allied ASID Margeaux Interiors



The ever-changing environment here in Michigan should always be top of mind when choosing outdoor furnishings and appliances. A mildew-resistant rug will not only add to your décor, but also does a great job anchoring your furniture so guests won’t be sliding around. Oversized umbrellas offer protection from the sun and rain, and propane heaters are a great option to extend the season. Donna Brown, Dazzling Designs



My favorite touches are fresh-cut flowers accented with candle light to increase the ambiance. Additionally, our other member of the family always needs to feel included and usually gets the best seat in the backyard when we’re entertaining. If your family pet is well-behaved, our four-legged companions can keep guests entertained in many different ways.
 Cheryl Nestro, Tutto Interiors

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