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Expert Tips to Spruce Up Your Outdoor Space for Summer

Indy’s top home and design experts reveal the outdoor trends they think are worth investing in if you’re looking to upgrade.
Outdoor Space

This piece was created in partnership with the Indiana Design Center.

After the year we’ve all had, it’s no wonder the demand for backyard bells and whistles has exploded. Pool purchases have gone through the roof, space heaters are sold out seemingly forever, and outdoor furniture is selling like hotcakes. And for good reason: A snowy Indiana winter and a still-ongoing pandemic have created a desire for many people to spend more time outdoors than ever before.

If you are considering upgrading your space, here’s some expert advice from some of Indy’s top home and design experts—all affiliated with the Indiana Design Center in Carmel. From outdoor speakers to potted plants, they know all the trends and are willing to spill some tea.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Stacy Molander
STACY MOLANDER, OWNER OF RUSTED WINDOW
RUSTEDWINDOW.COM, @RUSTEDWINDOW

One of the easiest ways to liven up your outdoor space is by arranging a few colorful potted plants together—you can use a variety of different planters for added visual interest. If you don’t have a green thumb or would rather not tend to your plants much, I love the idea of using succulents. Not only are they super trendy right now, but they’re incredibly easy to care for and don’t require much water. In fact, too much water can actually damage their delicate roots, so go with the idea of “less is more.” If the leaves look shriveled, then it’s probably time for some water.

If you want to try and leave your pots outdoors year-round, you can choose the hearty “hen and chicks” variety, but if you use other types of succulents, you may want to bring the pots indoors before the first frost—just check for bugs before bringing them inside. 

As for which type of pot to choose, I would recommend one with good drainage holes for the succulents that live outdoors on your porch or patio, and opt for a well-draining soil mix, like one made for cactuses and succulents.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Kara Kavensky
KARA KAVENSKY, MARKETING DIRECTOR AT ADAM GIBSON DESIGN
ADAMGIBSONDESIGN.COM, @ADAMGIBSONDESIGN

As the warm weather stimulates our enthusiasm to get outside and socialize, the need for safe, outdoor gathering spaces, highlighted by supply chain disruptions of patio heaters and furniture, has made it more challenging to design outdoor living spaces—but no less fun. This photo shows one of the few, if not the only, Churrasqueiras in Indianapolis; a Churrasqueira is a Brazilian-style grill most often used for meats.

There are many considerations when designing an outdoor cooking area, and one of the first steps of design is understanding the prevailing wind direction. You wouldn’t want your casual seating unprotected from a headwind, and your guests will probably not be delighted with hair smelling of grill smoke. Many clients wish to add a partial or even a full kitchen. We like to provide a two-page list (single-spaced) of considerations from the start. If adding a sink, copper or bronze finishes are good choices. Stainless steel is very durable and makes an easy-to-clean prep counter. Just remember it comes in several grades, and most will rust. This is especially true if adding an expensive grill or exhaust hood. Note: get to know your stainless-steel grades! How much you love to cook will dictate which appliances are incorporated into your space. Many folks are discovering ceramic, Kamado-style grills (the flavors they produce are incomparable) in addition to a separate gas grill. 

No matter what option you choose, there are several excellent outdoor living specialists in central Indiana, and we highly recommend engaging with a professional if you plan to expand into the outdoors.

RELATED: SIX HOT HOME DESIGN TRENDS FOR 2021

Jane Johnson
JANE JOHNSON, DESIGNER AT SURROUNDINGS BY NATUREWORKS+
CHOOSESURROUNDINGS.COM, @GO2SURROUNDINGS

With people spending more and more time at home, we’ve seen a renewed focus on creating a relaxing backyard and patio environment, and creating a vacation-worthy backyard is what we specialize in.

As an example, we’ve seen an increased demand for larger table options that could seat all the members of a family, but are also great for spreading out when you’re working from home. Natural wood finishes for furniture and tables are seeing resurgence, and they’re on-trend this year, but these are also timeless options that can blend with any existing color scheme.

And whether you have a generous amount of space to work with or are trying to carve out a smaller niche to relax in, you want to try and consider the scale of the furniture you’re bringing in to make sure that it’s not too small or overly large.

Jamie Carey
JAMIE CAREY, DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AT THE PREMIER GROUP
PREMIER-GROUP.COM, @PREMIERGROUPINDY

Now that spring weather has arrived, everyone is thinking about their outdoor entertaining space. Your outdoor patios should allow you all the same bells and whistles that you have indoors, like solid Wi-Fi coverage, great audio, and an amazing viewing area to watch your favorite content. There are some special considerations though when thinking about these technologies in an outdoor environment, which is why we would love the opportunity to meet with you and help design your system to meet your expectations and budget. 

Outdoor Wi-Fi is essential and expected. From streaming music, to the content on your TV, having a solid network is the foundation to any great outdoor experience. We’ve all experienced lags in streaming and connectivity issues, but with a proper design the performance should be smooth and reliable. From this point, we can now layer audio and video to the system and have an easy user experience. Have you ever played music through your existing outdoor speakers and had a hard time accommodating the volume based on your proximity to them? It’s hard to have a conversation over the music when it’s too loud, or when you’re too close to the source. But when you’re across the pool or patio, it might not be loud enough. Our team will properly assess the size of the space and direction of the speakers so that you and your guests can experience even and consistent coverage no matter your proximity to the speakers.

Outdoor TVs are the final piece of the puzzle for an unforgettable outdoor entertaining space. A specialized outdoor TV can remain outside all year around without the worry of moisture destroying the components of the device. We also offer a variety of outdoor TVs that vary in brightness depending on whether it will be placed in a covered area of your patio, or in the open sunlight. We will make the best recommendation for you and your needs.

Emily Hassett
EMILY HASSETT, INTERIOR DESIGNER AT GLASS HOUSE GALLERY AND FRANKLIN WINDOW AND DOOR
FRANKLINWINDOWANDDOOR.COM, @FRANKLINWINDOWANDDOOR

Now more than ever, homeowners are utilizing their outdoor spaces, big or small. And for many, a renovation was deemed necessary to take advantage of these areas. As we go back to a sense of normalcy by entertaining in the home, bringing the outdoors in will be crucial in the upcoming months. 

Marvin recently released a groundbreaking product, allowing users to immerse themselves into their surrounding environment through the comfort of their own home while simultaneously flooding rooms with natural light. The Marvin Skycove (pictured) is a glass nook, adding up to 20 square feet of usable space for homeowners to take in the views around them. Available in four sizes and many finishes, the Marvin Skycove is a great way to incorporate the outdoors into your home. 

For larger entertaining spaces, maximum openings are key. The past year has forced homeowners to really consider how their home works for them and how to take advantage of their outdoor spaces. Using a product like the Marvin Bi-Fold or the Multi-Slide Door to fully merge indoor and outdoor spaces is a trend that’s here to stay in new construction projects and renovations. Available with countless design options, any home can achieve the benefits of indoor-outdoor living.

Stephanie Groves is an Indy-based freelance writer who could spend all day picking out cushions for her sofa.

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