Topic: Outdoor Living Ideas

Date Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

Living rooms move outdoors as 'staycation' popularity endures

Living rooms move outdoors as 'staycation' popularity endures

Despite the slight lowering of gas prices this year, the "staycation" is here to stay.

More and more Americans continue to spend their vacations at home. They are relining their nest to be more comfortable, and many are creating new living rooms — outdoors.

Trends in home furnishings tend to move a little less rapidly than trendy apparel. It's one thing to wear this season's $34 dress to death, toss it at the end of summer, and move on to Autumn's Big Thing.

It's another thing to toss a couch that might cost several hundred or several thousand dollars.

As more furniture is moved outside — and it stays outdoors year-round — Eric Stalzer, district manager for Great Gatherings, said traditional materials, such as wicker, are being replaced with woven materials rugged enough to withstand the weather and elements for 15 years or longer.

One material used in Great Gatherings outdoor lifestyle furniture is a virgin vinyl minus fillers like clay or chalk, which can cause an item to become brittle and acquire a chalky layer of film during exposure to extreme temperatures and the sun's damaging rays..

A natural cellulosic material is used to weave the furniture in the Lloyd Flanders Outdoor Furniture collection carried by Great Gatherings, a firm with three shops in the region and plans to expand to five locations by the year's end.

Locally, Great Gatherings has a store at Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole.

The cushions for most of the shop's outdoor furniture, made of all-weather fabrics, tend to be neutral colors. Gray, Stalzer said, is becoming popular — in every shade.

The couches, chairs and lounges are often accented with throw pillows featuring accent colors of brilliant tangerine or Mykonos or Grecian blue.

"If you want to change the look of the furniture, you merely switch out the throw pillows, instead of special-ordering replacement cushions."

As fire pits have become more popular and varied in recent seasons, some couches are now designed to be curved or crescent shaped.

"The curved sofas curl around the fire pits. It brings people closer to the warmth and light," Stalzer said. "The pits are fueled by propane tanks or you can run an in-line gas line to them.

"Regular outdoor lighting is being replaced by the fire pits. You can adjust the fire pits from an ambient light to a heat source. People seem to like that," said Stalzer.

A few miles away, at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, buyers Nancy Rice and Erin De Haas showed off Homestead's latest trends.

There is a wider variety of fire pits as their popularity continues to grow. They now come in bar-, table- and chat-room heights. The pits can be covered with lids when not in use, providing multiple purposes for a pit station.

There are fire pit rims featuring tile textures to resemble reclaimed or distressed wood; others have rectangular or square pits instead of the familiar circular pits.

In a switch, one bar-height party table surrounded by eight bar stools is fitted with an ice bucket instead of a fire pit. It's ideal for freshly steamed crabs and pre-shucked oysters, or for chilling champagne.

To avoid splinters, wood rot or seasonal refinishing of an outdoor piece of wooden furniture, consumers can opt for all-weather Adirondack chairs, porch rockers and chaise lounges produced in durable, recycled plastics.

Outdoor rugs in a variety of colorful patterns are woven from recycled plastics.

Wooden furniture has not been banished. A hefty pedestal table is constructed from reclaimed teak has a gently weathered look.

Lamps can go outdoors, too. Several styles at Homestead have been fitted with glass hoods to prevent corrosion of a lamp's electrical parts. The textured, open weave shades are made of all-weather materials.

Want to cuddle outdoors? There's a double chaise lounge shaded by a gigantic canvas umbrella just for you.

Or, you can be even closer snuggled up in a canvas sling swing.

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