“Memory is not so brilliant as hope, but it is more beautiful, and a thousand times as true.” George Denison Prentice (1802-1870), American journalist and editor, “Prenticeana” (1860)
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”
Well, sometimes, maybe. And depending on where you live, summer is easier for some.
We are unique here in Southern Nevada in that our summers are not necessarily “outdoor” times as they are in other parts of the country. We tend to move indoors in the summer and others move out. However, depending on your tolerance for the elements, even the extreme summer heat here doesn’t preclude outdoor entertaining, especially in the evenings.
Regardless of where you live, outside space has become the new “must have” in home shopping. Personally, it’s very important to me, and while I have lived in high-rise buildings without a balcony, it would be very difficult for me to make the switch now.
So today, we’re taking Inside Spaces outside!
Being outside is often a reminder of childhood. School was out, you could spend all day outside, shoes came off and it was freedom. Rules were relaxed, there was the smell of newly mown grass and at night there were lightning bugs. Do you remember those? Of course, I don’t think we have lightning bugs in Vegas and we don’t have a lot of grass but, what the heck, we’re older now and expect different things from being outside.
But, as adults, we still get that summertime feeling when we eat outside or when we just read the paper with a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s different, and special.
So it’s no wonder that we all crave that little bit of outdoor space, whether it’s a small patio, porch, courtyard or large backyard. Outdoor living increases your livable space, and it still reads as freedom.
While Mother Nature provides the setting, retailers and manufacturers have given us a host of furnishings and facilities with which to indulge our outdoor whims and wishes.
Outdoor rooms should function just like your inside ones. There are unlimited choices for sofas, chairs, tables and ottomans. Fireplaces are often the centerpiece for these types of settings and the décor can include lamps, accessories, rugs and pillows. Fabrics that are engineered for outdoor spaces are beautiful and plentiful. Outdoor rooms can be just as stylish as the ones inside.
When I was growing up in North Carolina, we didn’t have such fancy things available. It seems to me that the most popular outdoor furniture included heavy redwood chaises and chairs with thick padded seats, wooden picnic tables with benches and metal dining tables and chairs.
Of course, if you were lucky enough to have a real porch, chances are you had rocking chairs and maybe a porch swing.
Selections and styles were limited, but their enjoyment was just as great as the fancier selections today.
Today, outdoor kitchens are also just as grand and efficient as indoor ones. It’s not uncommon to find elaborate grills with burners, refrigerators, wine fridges, pizza ovens and almost any other amenity imaginable. Back in the day, there was usually a charcoal grill in the backyard and then on special occasions a hand-turned ice cream maker. Oh, those were the days and the living was easy.
While we can find most outdoor furniture at every turn, every magazine and every newspaper, some of these good-old-days, summer-memory makers are harder to find. I don’t know if you can still buy a hand-cranked ice cream maker, but I do know you can still find an awesome porch swing.
Tom McGrady of Las Vegas makes porch swings, but if you ask him what he does, he will tell you that he creates memories. His swings evoke those days when you sat with your mom on the front porch swing and she calmed your fears or when you sat with your sweetheart and planned your future. McGrady says his mission is to build the best porch swings on the planet. His beautifully designed hard-wood works of art can be found at www.lasvegasswings.com.
So, have I tempted you to “take it outside?” Whether it’s eating, drinking, cooking or just lazing around, your outdoor options are many. I know I plan to spend as much time as I can outdoors and when it gets too hot to be out there, I’ll retreat to the air conditioning. But, I will always cherish my outdoor memories.
Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and immediate past president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.