May 21 | Posted by Barry Cohen

It’s finally patio season, time to enjoy the great outdoors after a long frigid winter.  If you have leafed through a décor magazine, walked through a furniture store or even glanced at advertising flyers you have undoubtedly noticed that your outdoor space is getting a lot of attention.  It doesn’t seem that long ago to me that everyone had the same aluminum nylon webbed chairs and the charcoal grill and that pretty much took care of outdoor décor, but since then there has been an explosion of products, designs and ideas.

The current trend is making your outdoor space blend seamlessly with your indoor space which includes everything from furniture to appliances, carpets, draperies and dining areas.  Sofas are plush and upholstered in weather resistant fabrics that can withstand the elements.  The array of styles and colours seems to rival what’s is available for indoors in quality, selection and style.  

This year expect to see what designer’s refer to as “chat and chill” configurations of outdoor furniture.  Indoor-style seating includes luxurious lounge chairs and sectional sofas piled with plush cushions that can be grouped together or separated, with upholstered ottomans, side tables and coffee tables that can be used for casual dining. Patio tables are available with built in fire-pits ranging from a small intimate glow to a full-blown roaring fire option.  The variety of finishes, colours and styles is mind-boggling.

Dedicated dining areas remain popular with outdoor furniture replicating your indoor dining room.  Weather resistant furniture with a lacquer look is trending with upholstered chairs situated under a canopy or pergola.  Popular designer Candice Olsen is introducing her new outdoor dining collection that includes slipcovered furniture, accent tables crafted of brass-finished aluminum topped with a faux-crocodile surface.

Exterior carpeting transforms concrete patios into inviting homey spaces.  Area rugs in various sizes accent your outdoor living spaces and set the tone for elegant dining or relaxing fireside conversation.  Outdoor refreshment areas with refrigerators and icemakers can be incorporated into your freestanding bar, but don’t be surprised to see bars set into tables and even sofas this season.
 
Outdoor entertaining means a sound system that can be housed indoors or outdoors. Wireless speakers strategically situated around your gathering areas provide the ambience of indoor entertaining.  Speakers can be hidden out of sight, or hidden in plain sight as many models are available that resemble rocks, flowerpots or art.

Your outdoor living spaces should appear to be an extension of your home, and with the variety of styles and colours it should be a lot of fun planning and decorating this summer.