No matter the season, Sun Valley visitors and residents seek solace and solitude in the outdoors; in the stillness of a morning on the river or in the quite of a cross-country ski on snow-covered trails. The outdoors offer adventure, but also a chance to take a breath and relax. This message seems to carry even more weight now, with researchandmarkets.com reporting that the U.S. outdoor furniture market is forecasting growth of $1.53 billion from 2020-2024. Whether a cozy nook to curl up after a long day, a place to gather over a meal, or an intimate setting to safely host friends, outdoor spaces are a needed oasis.
“We are leaning into gathering outside now more than ever because of our comfort levels,” says Arianne Heyser, owner and designer at Topnotch Furnishing & Design. “To be able to provide a space that allows your friends and family to come over, be comfortable, and feel like they can stay is so important.”
From a wide-open backyard to a small patio, easy upgrades and refurbishes to your outdoor areas can turn a once-neglected area to an outdoor retreat. From adding layering and texture to rethinking layouts, Sun Valley’s interior designers offer simple how-to’s, tips, and trends to rethink your outdoor space.
Erika Blank, interior designer at Picket Fence Design, says to first decide how you want to use your space. “Is this a family hang out spot? Is it for a bachelor who wants to work outside or someone who wants to host gathers?” Erika says. “Then, we look at the landscape. Do they have existing patio space? Do we need to pull a landscape architect in to help add what the space needs, or do they have the foundation in place and just need furniture and or additional planting?”
Adding Warmth & Textures
After deciding needs and intention, lean into gathering pieces, showcasing your personal style, and bringing in warmth, no matter the season. Erika recommends adding warmth in both the look and feel of the space with the simple addition of layering textures and adding ambience.
“A lot of times our outdoor spaces can feel a little colder because there is stone on the ground, you have a lot of space around you, or your other landscaping happens farther away from the home,” she says.
Simple string lights or solar light fixtures can add visual warmth to any space. Anchoring any furniture piece with a vibrant area rug can also add softness to hard stonescapes or patios.
“[The brand] Fermob has some lighting options that are portable, rechargeable, and weatherproof and another luxury brand, Gloster, offers lanterns with solar charging,” says Heather Newhouse, owner of The Open Room. “Fire is another element that is very popular right now. When the sun goes down in our mountain towns, it gets chilly. Having a heat/fire element extends the evening for entertaining comfortably at home.”
In even the smallest spaces, fire coffee tables are a versatile piece that can add a place to cozy up by the fire, a space for dining, and create a lovely feel.
“We are seeing a lot of fire coffee tables,” Erika says. “These are a wonderful way to add ambiance to even a small terrace.”
Now that the home is synonymous with office, oasis, retreat, and gathering spot, it’s more important than ever to add versatility to each space. For an outdoor haven, this means creating an area that does it all; adding a comfortable chair to lounge in while doing that conference call or a coffee table that can be used as a workspace or gathering place.
When thinking of the best use of an outdoor space, the go-to function might be dining. And although a dinner al fresco is an enjoyable option, each designer recommends thinking beyond the actual mealtime and focusing on a space that’s transitional. Create an area that effortlessly moves from dining to lounging with friends (or a good book) by forgoing the traditional dining table set and opting for comfy chairs or an outdoor sofa around a coffee table.
Layer in rugs, bold textiles, and touches of your personal interior style. For budget-conscious upgrades, it can be as simple as adding new pillows or throws to your outdoor sectional.
“There are so many exciting fabrics and textiles that are made to be outdoors,” Arianna says. “We have velvets and leathers meant to be outside in the sun, rain, and snow, which are totally weatherproof. The technology they have nowadays can take your design to another level because it is weather resistance.”
And when it comes to furniture and textiles, steer clear of overly matched options and lean into a collection of textures or colors within a general theme.
“We want it to feel more collected,” Erika adds. “Maybe the dining table is a different material than the chairs or the sofa and the side chairs. A more collective feel has a more elevated look, and goes beyond just buying a set at a Big Box store, checking all the boxes, and bringing it home.”
And no matter your budget or needs, at the end of the day it’s all about adding a little extra comfort.
“Whether you are stuck inside all day working and you need to go outside, or you just need a moment away to take a call or do a work thing, we all need our Zen space and our backyards are becoming our havens,” Erika says. “If you can add things to feel more comfortable, do it.”