This week we go shopping, not for plants but for outdoor furniture.
There are many innovations in furniture that assist in bringing the
indoors out and many furniture makers are now turning their attention
to outdoor furniture. The materials are great looking, low maintenance
and high durability, so much so that it is difficult to tell the
difference between indoor and outdoor furniture.
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Garden Media Group
Susan McCoy is with the Garden Media Group. They've been working in the
gardening industry industry for about 12 years, the last 5 tracking
what's hot and what's not. Today's gardeners/homemakers have decided
that the outside of their property is just as important as their inside
- they're working, playing sleeping, eating and entertaining outside.
Outside is an extension of, and just as important as, the inside of
their house. Many of us have created elaborate outdoor kitchens, while
some are even installing plasma TV's outside. As gardens have also
evolved, so has outdoor furniture. For many years outdoor furniture
meant teak or wrought iron. Today you can get beautiful wicker
furniture that is completely weather resistant as well as beautiful
fabrics that match your style and taste. Susan feels that gardening
shows like Garden Smart have helped in this area. They have given us
all confidence to put our own signature on our gardens, they've
empowered us to go outside and make our own statement. She feels we
should watch these shows, if feeling intimidated, start small, but go
outside, try something, you'll find that living in the outdoors can be
fun, relaxing and rejuvenating.
Maureen Recchia is the Store Designer for a series of stores called
Georgia Backyard in Georgia and American Backyard in Dallas, Texas.
Maureen must, for her job, stay on top of the trends. It is a challenge
but she does her own research, scanning leading magazines and accompany
buyers on trips to Chicago and High Point, North Carolina. She's
constantly looking for the latest styles and accessories which she
thinks top it all off.
There is furniture designed for inside, furniture for protected areas
and furniture for outside. It can get confusing. The manufacturers do a
great job designing the furniture so you're virtually looking out at
your living room.
We start with a grouping called Shorewood, it needs to go in a sunroom,
a completely enclosed environment. It has a sofa, love seat, chair,
ottoman, rocker, dining and several accessory tables. With the divider
screen you could fully accessorize any sunroom and it comes in
different stains. It is an indoor set because it has cotton fabric,
which is something you don't want in an outdoor setting because it will
mold and mildew. It is also filled with a fabric, which does not allow
the moisture to drain quickly. A easy way to determine if indoors or
outdoors furniture is to pick up the cushion. In this case it is fully
upholstered, thus doesn't allow the moisture to drain, thus an indoor
fabric. The outdoor cushions would be filled with a polyester fiberfill
because the objective is to not hold any moisture. It should dry within
20-30 minutes. The sales staff will be a big help in this area as well.
The next set is also ideal for a sunroom, a closed environment. It has
a rattan flair, which has become more popular and has unique pieces
which are different from the first set. This has a recliner, which is
completely upholstered foam and upholstered material inside. It is also
available as a sleeper sofa with an array of different fabrics and
The next grouping is suitable for a protected area, usually called
limited exposure, meaning a screened porch or something with a roof so
the furniture is not exposed to the direct elements. This furniture has
cotton fabric with the upholstered finish. But, this vendor has several
different acrylic fabrics which are made with polyester fiberfill
inside. The rattan is treated with several coats of polyurethane, so it
can withstand the elements. It would hold up in the elements, just not
as well, because it is natural rattan. It has many different pieces
such as a sofa, loveseat, chair, ottoman, a rocking chair, a breakfast
nook and a bakers rack.
Joe notices a chair and a half which is referred to as a cuddle chair.
It also has a cuddle ottoman. Typically this grouping would be used in
front of a cozy fireplace. Bring up 2 cuddle chairs with an ottoman in
the center - that seems to be the new hot trend for a cozy outdoor
Joe feels a great compliment to great looking outdoor furniture is a
nice looking container, and shows us several of his favorites. One has
nice scale, is tall and narrow with a focal point that is tall and
narrow as well. It contains an evergreen Dogwood, an unusual plant but
one worth having in any container. The plants spilling over soften the
edge and hide the bare spots.
Another container has one of the hottest color combinations in
container design today. It combines chartreuse green foliage with black
foliage. The plants are Heuchera, this variety is called 'Key Lime Pie'
and Alocasia 'Black Magic' with Sambucus 'Black Lace'. These plants
like full to part shade. In combination with the beautiful container it
is a winner.
For more information about these above mentioned two wonderful
containers and interesting plants visit our web site - click on
Maureen and Joe look at another furniture grouping ideal for a
protected environment, limited exposure. This is wicker, protected
wicker. It has polyester fiberfill cushions with acrylic fabric. The
bottom is open for drainage. It has some wonderful complimentary pieces
like a glider chair and ottoman which glides as well. Movement is
important for outdoors, everyone loves to sit in a piece that rocks or
The next set has a southern flair and reminds Joe of something his
grandparents might have had, yet it has its own special feel. It is a
William Pool (a famous architect) design, has a sofa, loveseat, Morris
chair, desk chair and the cuddle grouping. There is a special design
element in each piece. And everything is protected with a special
coating so there should be no problems with mold or mildew in the
protected environment. It is build to last.
Joe notices another grouping that is part of a traditional collection.
It is modeled after a line brought out over 100 years ago. It is called
the Reminisce Collection. It is beautiful. Joe, in particular, is
attracted to the cushions. They remind him of the cushions he was never
allowed to get on as a child because they were in the formal living
room. Yet this grouping is ideal for an outdoors protected environment.
The next group is called the Hemingway Collection and is modeled after
furniture found in the home of Ernest Hemingway in Key West. The vendor
researched Hemingway's lifestyle, looked at the different furniture
throughout his life, specifically what he used in Key West, and
recreated that. It is beautiful. This grouping has unique pieces - a
safari chair, an interesting swing as well as the cuddle grouping, even
unique coffee and end tables. This is available in different fabrics
and finishes so you can customize this to work on any screened porch, a
Eric Johnson tells us this week about fragrance. It adds a whole
dimension to the way we experience the garden. It takes something
that's visually beautiful and adds a whole new experience for our
senses. Eric shows us 2 fragrant plants. Gardenia 'First Love' is
wonderfully fragrant, great as a cut flower for bringing inside the
house. Another is Daphne 'Carol Mackie'. It has wonderful variegated
foliage, unbeatable fragrance and beautiful flowers. So if you're
looking for unique ways to enhance your garden experience, think about
fragrant plants. For more information on these fantastic plants visit
our web site - click on GARDENING TIPS
Joe and Maureen continue their tour. Joe when thinking about outdoor
furniture thinks about teak Adirondack chairs. That design has been
around forever. The adirondack chair has now been redesigned but not
reconfigured. It now is available as a rocker and they've added color
to the lineup. Barn red is the latest and greatest color but it comes
in other colors. It is now available in a new material called
Envirowood which is actually recycled milk jugs that have been
compressed together. It is an excellent material, is virtually
maintenance free, floats and doesn't need to be repainted. The hardware
is brass thus doesn't corrode and is long lasting.
Another outdoor collection is called Gerawood. It is as dense as teak.
This set has a red finish rather than a typical plain wood finish. It
is decorated with beautiful solution dyed acrylic cushions and
beautiful throw pillows. Of course, it is available in a wide selection
of fabrics ideal to customize any room. The cushions are weather
proofed and maintenance free.
Joe mentions that when he sees the magazine pictures with outdoor
groupings, to him, they're unrealistic because they're plush, yet out
in the open with no protection from the elements. Maureen tells Joe
that he's sitting on one of those sets and that it is called Camino
Real. It really is virtually maintenance free, constructed using
synthetic wicker wrapped around an aluminum frame. It has solution died
acrylic fabric, filled with polyester fiberfill which, again, allows
for quick drainage. Maureen has had this set in her own outdoors. It's
been there for 4 years and she has 4 teenagers. It's held up remarkably
well. This group has many different pieces available - a sofa,
loveseat, glider, club chair, rocker, Morris chair, conversation group,
dining group and bar height group. One can have everything match or
bring in different colored frames. The options for accessories are
endless, with mosaic tables, lamps, etc. Outdoor furniture groups can
be individualized to reflect your own tastes or family needs.
The next group reminds Joe of his bachelor days. It is synthetic wicker
wrapped around an aluminum frame. It has an acrylic blend fabric and
polyester fiberfill. It's a sectional, thus very versatile. You can
move pieces around or put it together as a sofa. It has a chaise which
could be placed between a coffee table. It's perfect for a contemporary
look. It comes in different fabrics and with or without piping. It is
completely suited for the outdoors and can be decorated with all the
different pillows the vendor has to offer.
Joe wants to look at a table for dining outdoors and Maureen has just
the answer. This set is modeled after Frances Mays' home in Cortona,
Italy. Frances Mays is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun. It is a
beautiful and is called a settee. It is constructed of wrought
aluminum, so it's hollow. It is acid washed, so it's going to patina
beautifully, which means it will get better looking with age. It is
meant for the outdoors with solution dyed acrylic pillows which are
polyester fiberfilled. Additionally available is a sink with a cabinet
which can be plugged into the hose, which will then provide running
water, and if you want a refrigerator could be added. The etergee is
beautiful and is another design of Frances Mays. Its top resembles a
church steeple that she sees out her bedroom window. Open the doors and
beautiful glass shelves are inside.
Maureen next shows us a pergola that is 110 inches long. Underneath is
a zinc top table which is 103 inches long. It is called a farmer's
table and seats 12 people. Joe likes a smaller table, one that will
seat 4. Maureen shows us a 48 inch faux stone table that looks like
inlaid tile. It is completely designed for the outdoors and is
maintenance free. The sling back chairs that go with the table are
great as well. One can mix and match colors to suit your style and
Joe asks to see some of the other table tops. Maureen shows him some
beautiful cast top tables with coordinating chairs that present a
beautiful outdoor living environment.
We next visit with a Garden Smart viewer, Jan. Jan has installed a
retractable awning. This awning serves different purposes - it is great
at protecting plants from the afternoon sun, which can be very hot in
this location. By bringing the awning out in the afternoon it protects
those plants. Jan loves to entertain and has a beautiful table
underneath. The awning can protect dinner guests from the elements -
rain, etc. because it is waterproof. The retractable awning is a great
addition to Jan's backyard- functional and good looking.
Maureen has some other outdoor accessories that are designed for
protecting a seating area. They have umbrellas in all sizes, some 7 to
11 feet tall. They come in a variety of colors and with a variety of
designs. Some have fringes on the edges, one umbrella can be configured
with netting around the edge so it protects from mosquitoes and other
insects. It's virtually a portable, outdoor room. Maureen has other
accessories, things like outdoor lighting and artwork. She shows us
some pillows that are gorgeous. They are available in a variety of
colors and fabrics. They range in size from 18 inches up to 42 inches.
They can be placed outdoors with no worry. Maureen shows us an
assortment of outdoor rugs that can go under any grouping. They are
made from a material that withstands all the elements. Lighting is
important, one example Joe notices looks like a coconut tree. It is
Garden Smart thanks Maureen for her time. This has been a different
type show for us but just as important because we've learned about new
gardening trends, about bringing the indoors out and new ways to enjoy
the outside. Thank you Maureen.
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