7 Kick-Grass Design Ideas For Alfresco Spaces

With the temperatures finally rising, it’s time to make the most of our outside spaces as quickly as possible. Given Chicago’s mercurial weather, we never know how long the warmth will last. That’s why we’re always ready when our interior design clients ask us for cool, quick ways to up the excitement, ease and utility of their balconies and yards. And this year, we’re showing off these great ideas thanks to our blog.

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How can we make the most of our alfresco spaces? Not everyone has the climate or inclination to grow a lush garden as they did at Levens Hall in Great Britain’s Lake District. But interesting options abound. Photo: Levens Hall

Our first consideration deals with the most pressing problem of outdoor life: lighting. Either there’s way too much of it by day or not enough of it at night. And both extremes present their problems. To temper the harsh Chicago rays by day, we’re loving Frontgate’s Scalamandre’s Zebra Skin Designer Patio Umbrella. Besides its wildly glamorous demeanor, it sports a heavyweight base, a sturdy tiling mechanism, comes in four different frame finishes and is made of a Sunbrella solution-dyed acrylic fabric that’s been awarded a Seal of Recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation for its almost perfect (98 percent) UV protection.

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Dress up a deck or yard with Frontgate’s wildly glamorous Scalamandre Zebra Skin Designer Patio Umbrella. Photos: Frontgate

At the opposite extreme, it’s hard to light up a dark Chicago night if you don’t have electrical outlets outside. Most patios and balconies do, but backyards—especially big ones—often become black holes, especially in the suburbs. For that reason alone, we think this collection of wireless LED Mimo Pack light stones from Sweden from Calabez is a brilliant option—literally and figuratively. They’re also dimmable, made of durable plastic, waterproof, remote controlled and come in a large palette of hues.

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Light up the night and be cord-free with Mimo Pack light stones from Sweden by Calabez. Photos: Calabez

The luxury of a fire pit that’s easy to set up and then store again at the end of the season should not be underestimated. Good-looking, sturdy options are hard to find. But here are two standouts that fill the bill for modernists and classicists alike. Both are big on high style, utility and ease-of-use since neither needs to be fueled by propane tanks. The beautifully burnished Sunnydaze Décor Hammered Copper Fire Pit from Fire Pit Plaza has a 30-inch diameter, while the handsome Iron Fire Pit Bowl comes in two sizes (23-inch or 30-inch diameters) at Terrain.

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Modernists and Classicists can choose between Fire Pit Plaza’s Sunnydaze Décor Hammered Copper Fire Pit and Terrain’s Iron Fire Pit Bowl. Photos: Fire Pit Plaza and Terrain

Our next pick may seem a little unusual for luxury interior designers—but we think it's a necessity on a hot Chicago day if you don’t have an outdoor kitchen. Chill drinks and easily spoilable foods in Jayson Home’s Leather Coolers. They come in three sizes and two hues—natural or brown—and are heads and shoulders above the alternatives.

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Forget the proletariat cooler. Chill drinks and food with polish in these Leather Coolers from Jayson Home. Photo: Jayson Home

If you’re still breaking out the folding chairs for your alfresco experience, it’s time to take the plunge and get a comfortable option that’s still easy to stash away in the winter if necessary. West Elm’s Huron Large Lounge Chair is made out of lightweight but sturdy aluminum wrapped with all-weather cord, and comes with weatherproof cushions for added comfort. Best of all, it’s generous dimensions and ensure a ‘good’ sit.

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Get a good sit in your outside space with West Elm’s Huron Large Lounge Chair. Photo: West Elm

Of course, as luxury interior designers we have to recommend a few fabulous finishing touches. We like sweet but definitely not pedestrian ceramic accessories, such as Mecox Garden’s Icarus Ceramic Ringed Stool (which comes in four bright hues) and Terrain’s wonderfully weathered Barnacle Low Egg Pots in two sizes.

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For finishing touches, consider Mecox Garden’s Icarus Ceramic Stools and Terrain’s Barnacle Low Egg Pots. Photos: Mecox Garden and Terrain

19 Jun 2015

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