Outdoor Living || Relax and entertain al fresco with cool seating, patio umbrellas, fire pits & more If you live in a part of the world with four distinct seasons, it feels incredibly invigorating when you first open your home to the outdoors in spring. Because the season can seem short, it's key to make your outdoor space as comfortable and inviting as possible, especially if you entertain a lot. If you happen to have a swimming pool, this will probably be the focal point of your setup. Organize your space much as you would inside, with designated seating areas, complete with area rugs – durable synthetics, or natural abaca or sisal are ideal. Sprinkle in garden stools or small tables that can be easily rearranged. For finishing touches, include hanging flower pots, large planters, and string lights to make the view even more enticing.   Furniture Must-Haves || Start with the coziest seating you can find. Depending on the size of your space, you can include a sofa, loveseat, chairs, or even a sectional. Consider how you plan to use the space. If dining al fresco is number one, invest in a table that accommodates an umbrella, and make sure the chairs include cushions. If frequent naps and reading time are on the agenda, a chaise, swivel chair or glider will feel especially welcoming, along with a convenient side table to place your beverage, snacks, and a book. When choosing fabrics for seat cushions, pillows and umbrella canopies, decide if they will receive full or partial sun exposure. Generally, acrylic fabrics such as Sunbrella are the most durable and soft, and will not fade, while spun polyester fabrics are durable, but stiffer, and more likely to fade.   Inviting Extras || A memorable outdoor soiree includes many elements. Obviously, a fun mix of family and friends is essential, but as afternoon segues to evening, certain factors make people want to linger. If it gets chilly, a fire pit can provide just the amount of warmth and ambience you need to keep the party going. If you prefer an upgrade to your old beach cooler, you can set up a portable trolley cart on casters for a "help yourself" bar. A large tray to organize accessories like napkins, cups and plates is helpful. And, if your gathering is still in full swing during evening hours, don't forget citronella candles to keep bugs at bay – except for fireflies, of course. You may want to count or chase them.   Light & Shade || There's simply no comparison to natural light. It just makes you feel more energetic. But when temperatures sizzle in midsummer, you need to shield yourself and guests a bit. This is where a great patio or deck umbrella will do wonders. As the day progresses, adjust the umbrella's angle to keep direct sunshine under control, and if you feel a sudden raindrop or get a downpour, a strong, sturdy umbrella really helps. If you're making s'mores come nightfall, hang some string lights or battery-operated lanterns to make the scene magical.
Playtime is not just for the kids anymore. Thanks to all the advances in technology it’s now possible to create an arcade right in your own home without actually looking like an arcade. Choose your elements of fun and let the good times roll… The Space || The square-footage of your space will determine how you choose to fill it. Be mindful that most game tables require 3-5 feet of additional space around them in order to play comfortably. Lighting is also important as some games require more direct lighting than others; while if you decide to focus on digital gaming / theater you will need adjustable lighting. The Furniture || Regardless of how much space you are working with creating a bar area is possible from bar carts to bar cabinets to built-in bars! Are you a digital gaming guru / movie maven? Splurge on comfy theater seating that reclines and is equipped with cup holders and USB ports. Are traditional table games more your style? Fill the room with pub tables and bar stools so people have a place to relax and snack while they wait their turn. The Fun || Now that you have the basic design layout you can choose the fun! You can’t go wrong with a pool table, foosball table, or air hockey table, but if space is limited consider games that don’t take up as much space in the room such as darts or shuffleboard. Keep some vintage board games on hand for a nostalgic twist!
Blue & White || From nautical navy and white to chinoiserie patterns, this combo always looks fresh Certain color combinations have truly stood the test of time, none more so than blue and white. When it comes to interiors – outdoors, too – blue and white always looks fresh, cool, crisp and sophisticated. From bold, poolside cabana striped draperies to richly-patterned chinoiserie vases and ginger jars, this timeless pairing works equally well in solid blocks of color or intricate patterns. It's particularly strong in cooling down summer outside settings, but for warmth and zing, add orange, pink or yellow. And, you can use blue and white in any room – think of a guest bedroom covered in French toile de jouy (twal-duh-zhwee) fabric, the aforementioned chinoiserie vases scattered around a living room, or a serene bedroom with muted versions of blue with white for comforters, pillows, and window treatments. However you incorporate it, blue and white just feels right. However you incorporate it, blue and white just feels right. Sky-View Seats || It's not surprising…according to many surveys, America's favorite color is blue. It's almost never jarring, but calm and cool, though it does feel more energetic in saturated versions of navy, royal blue, and turquoise. And, it's readily available on upholstered furniture, from dining and accent chairs to upholstered beds, sofas and ottomans, as well as every kind of accessory. Metal or wicker outdoor furniture is often painted white, with classic navy blue cushions for an inviting summer look.   Coastal Connotations || There's nothing better than relaxing by the ocean, lake or pool. Blue sky, blue water, white sand – we're intrinsically drawn to these coastal hues because they are so prevalent in nature. And even though grey is an enduring color go-to, we don't long for a grey sky the way we do blue. You can create coastal vibes in any room using blue and white, especially if you mix in variations like cornflower, periwinkle or powder blue. Sometimes you can find many variations in one area rug that can act as a springboard for creating an oasis of calm.   Cool Accents || If you have a neutral-hued room, add some color with blue patterned pillows, and for porch, deck or patio, get them in Sunbrella weather-resistant fabrics. For dining, set a table with blue and white patterned dinnerware mixed with cobalt water goblets, plus blue and white floral table linens for a fresh look. Typically, bathrooms are white, so towels and rugs with blue in them beautifully complement white tile and porcelain. Or, try painting a light blue ceiling in a white room for a tranquil feeling every time you look up. This technique is often used to great effect on porches, where Southern tradition says a "haint blue" ceiling will ward off evil spirits.
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