Saturday, June 16, 2012

Designing Eye: Smart Decorating for the Small Patio

Did you grow up with a big porch, a flowing lawn, a big deck off the kitchen? It's a dream setting that not everyone, including me, was fortunate enough to have. Instead, I remember a balcony and small patio that we would go out to this time of year when the weather turned nice.
This condominium patio is only about 10 feet by 10 feet, but it appears much larger through the use of neutral colored furnishings, a stone bench, a single piece of wall decor and right-sized colorful plants. To help with the ambiance, a water feature and windchime were added.

Many homeowners and renters find themselves with only space to enjoy the great outdoors. Decorating such a space, however, can be fun and inexpensive. Here are some ideas to help you make your small outdoor space just as fine as a big one.

Furnishings
Consider the size and scale of your patio or balcony before you add furniture. Furnishings that are large or overstuffed can engulf a small space. Look for furnishings without arms and that have simple lines and low backs. Benches can be used along one or more sides of your patio for additional seating.

Choose furniture that can do double duty. Ottomans that also can be used for storage and cocktail tables or furnishings that can be folded, stacked and put away when not in use work well in small spaces.

Look for furnishings that tend to "disappear." Acrylic or glass tables and thin-line metal chairs allow the eye to see through them, which decreases their visual weight, making them perfect for small patios.
This small patio has a big outdoor feel with plants, light colored furnishings and a glass table top that doesn't add to the visual clutter. Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee ( Debbie Noda )
Plants
Container gardens make excellent accents for small patios or balconies, and a little landscaping around your patio is a great way to enhance privacy and shade. But know your plants -- or find a good nursery that does -- before adding them to your patio. A pretty trailing plant may look cute in the store, but it may overwhelm your space.

Choose landscaping and plants that will add color, texture and height, not bulk, to your patio.

Plants with pleasing scents are a wonderful addition to any outdoor area, but avoid plants with extremely strong aromas that can quickly overpower both the space and you.

Decor
Small patios don't necessarily need a lot of small decor. One large urn has more impact than several small vases, which can look cluttered. One nice piece of wall decor beats a bunch of small ones.

Diffused, natural light and lighter colors tend to open up a space and make it feel larger. If your patio is extremely shady, consider adding uplighting, string lights or other electrical light to brighten it up. Stick with light colors or neutrals in furnishings and use bright colors as accents in pillows, an umbrella or place mats.

Fabric prints can work well in small spaces, too, as long as they are used sparingly.
Stripes often work well on small patios because they can be used to create the illusion of height or length. When choosing patterns, stick with the ratio of 2-to-1 -- two small-scaled patterns or textures with one sparsely used bold pattern to add interest and pop.

Listen up
Although the look of your patio is important, don't forget the power of sound. A small water feature or wind chimes can enhance your patio and mask unappealing noises from a nearby street or your neighbors.
Call 925-862-9064
Email me at Toni@MarieAntoinetteInteriors.com

Monday, June 11, 2012

Table Top Decorating or Tablescape!

The definition of the word Tablescape is; An artistic arrangement of articles on a table!
I am not a party planner, but I do love planning them.  And as you might have guessed my favorite part of the plan is the adornment of the table....after all I'm a decorator and decorating a table top isn't too far off from decorating a room.
Below are some photo's and tips of the Tablescapes I have designed inexpensively for my own home parties!
 
Outdoor Patio Luncheon Party! 
Choose a theme! Here it's lemons. We floated them in the large green glass urn filled with white gladiolas.

Two colors, one prominent and one as an accent! Lemon leafs were folded into the napkin wrapped plates.
Lemon tree limbs were used as long garlands on the table tops.

Consider contrast to the background color! Chairs are neutral tan like the rock wall allowing only the lemon yellow and green color to pop.
 Garden Brunch!
Let the tablecloth deliver the biggest splash of color and use the 80% to 20% rule.
Here it's green as 80% and hot pink as 20%.

Simple flower vase is clear to support the color theme of green and hot pink.

White chairs pick up the plate color and balances the hot pink against the green.
 Afternoon Wedding Shower!
White, silver and lavender!  The canopy of shade from the oak trees
 allowed the colors to brighten the landscape.

Real dried lavender was gathered, tied and buried in sand filled silver urns as centerpieces!

White linens, white china, white chairs.  Lavender napkins, lavender chair ties, lavender centerpieces. A sprinkling of silver for sunlight reflections!

More silver, not color, adds some glam!