Trends in outdoor living and decor

With warm sunny days approaching, we will be spending a lot more time outdoors both relaxing and entertaining. We have seen major trend developments, over recent years, to these outdoor spaces and patios. We explore these trends and look at the fine integration between the outdoor living areas and the interior spaces, which we spend many hours rejuvenating in, with our busy lifestyles being far more pressurised than previous years. 

Some overriding trends that are affecting everything from electronics to decor as well as business in general are the recession, which is currently rearing another ugly side, as well as the awareness of our environment, which has seen dramatic change take place over the last couple of decades. More time is spent at home with everyone tightening their budgets and more attention is being given to design elements and comforts in our outdoor spaces which were in the past, very much of an afterthought.

We see this new awareness as an extension and integration of living areas, rather than a separation of interior and exterior space. Due to this new thinking a lot of developments have taken place in recent years in both outdoor furniture as well as outdoor decor.

The developments of new materials that can withstand the elements have also contributed to a greater flexibility, which is such an important factor in terms of the longevity of these products. Whether one has a covered patio or an open outdoor space, the possibilities are endless.

On recent travels I saw a series of luxurious fully upholstered sofas, exactly as you would use in an interior, for use outdoors which completely resists the elements. The fabrics are light fast and the specially designed foam repels all moisture. Although specialised items such as these are not yet available on our shores and will be exceptionally expensive, it is a great example of the search for this ultimate outdoor luxury. Colour is key this summer with bold colours set to dominate the outdoor environment to lift spirits and enhance our wonderful summer climate. A host of specially designed fabrics for outdoor use is already available at reasonable prices here in S.A. which allow for colourful cushions and even outdoor ottomans.

Shades of blue will remain popular through 2012 as will tones of red, orange and variety of shades of mustard. These specially designed fabrics can also be used to customise your parasol (outdoor umbrella) so that they co-ordinate with your cushions and scatters. Stripes are also still a firm favourite as far as pattern is concerned; both narrow pin-stripes as well as bolder wider stripes. Furniture too is seeing a complete reinvention; wood will always be a popular choice; however one has to be very selective as to what can be used in order to have longevity, especially if these pieces are placed in non-covered areas.

Teak is by far the best choice and is generally grown in sustainable forests, but also the most expensive. Solid teak can withstand all these elements and with the right care builds character from season to season.

Due to price constraints of having solid teak products, we are seeing some great design development happening in injection moulded polyprop (plastic) furniture taking place. We are all accustomed to the imitation cane weave that we see every season, but we are starting to see these items in a variety of new contemporary designs and colours. Different tones of metallic are becoming increasingly popular, with shades of copper and bronze dominating the international trend shows. Solid polyprop furniture in translucent colour is also being used with specially designed lighting within these items, making these elements as decorative at night as they are during the day. Cane being a natural product with its hand-woven aesthetic will remain a firm favourite for covered patios.


DesignMind is an on-line market place for South Africans to find inspiring home building and decorating ideas and the suppliers best able to make home improvement dreams a reality.

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