June 1, 2013 
sensibly chic designs for life logo
Happy June everybody! The weather is wonderful and this month we are going to talk about outdoor decorating so you can take advantage of every beautiful day we have over the next several months. While some may say "You only live once," they are actually incorrect. You only DIE once, you have every day to live, so make the most of each one! Enjoying the great outdoors can help!

Thanks to everyone who listens to "Ask the Design Diva" radio show. Whether you listen live Saturday morning at 8 or catch the Podcast on AskTheDesignDiva.com or iTunes, I appreciate all of your questions and comments. You are in good company, too, because we have spread to 132 countries!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at Barbara@sensiblychic.biz
or call me at 704-608-9424. Have a fabulous month, and I'll see you July 1, with a MAJOR announcement.

Barbara Green

Outdoor Decorating

A huge selection of products have been created that duplicate the comfort of indoor furnishings, but are made out of materials that will withstand both the sunshine and the rain. Before you spend any money on outfitting your outdoors, take some time to plan how you want it to look, feel, and function.

Outdoor Kitchens 
outdoor kitchen
Anything your indoor kitchen has is now available for an outdoor kitchen. The grill is obvious, but you can also have warming drawers, dishwashers, ice makers, refrigerators and beer taps. The cabinet bases are usually made of  stone or stainless steel and the counter tops will likely be granite or tile.

Outdoor Dining Rooms

Once you've prepared all that delicious food you're going to need someplace inviting to serve it, and the outdoor dining rooms are a far cry from the redwood picnic table and plastic chairs of my youth. You can find outdoor dining furniture in a variety of materials such as wood, stone, aluminum, wrought iron, acrylic, and vinyl. If you live in a windy area, you'll want to stick with one of the heavier styles to prevent having to hunt them down after a storm.

Outdoor Fireplace and Firepits
fire pit, outdoor decorating
Nothing adds more drama to a backyard than a stately stone fireplace. The height is great for scale and the fire is warm and inviting on the chillier summer nights. If you plan ahead, you can even include a wood-fired pizza oven in your stone fireplace design.  However, you may prefer a firepit if you are interested in having a larger group of people around. If you can't decide which one to go with, no one is keeping you from doing both!

Outdoor Living Rooms
outdoor living room, outdoor seating
Sofas, sectionals, chairs, and rockers are all available in weather resistant fabrics and frames. Every style is represented, from a minimalist Asian bench to an ornate Victorian settee and every option in between. You can relax in comfort for hours outside without having web-print or splinters on the back of your legs!

Water Feature
water feature, pool, spa, lazy river
Water has a soothing affect on most people whether it is simply listening to it or lounging in it. A fountain can give a peaceful atmosphere to your outdoor living area, while a spa can give your entire body the relaxation it needs and a pool can provide your family with the exercise and fun it needs. A new trend that I would LOVE to have is the backyard lazy river. Now THAT is a slice of heaven!
Color of the Month
The abundant sunshine we have in the summer is the inspiration for our Color of the Month. Yellow is one of the most difficult colors for the "non-professional" to select on their own. A client painted her family room yellow, only to find that the finished space looked more like a big yellow school bus than the warm inviting family environment she envisioned. This yellow, which I selected, was more like what she was hoping for.
yellow family room
Yellow is great for the kitchen, since that room usually needs to energize people in the morning, and the color of lemons is associated with cleanliness and freshness. Blue is its complimentary color, and  a favorite shade to pair with it.
blue and yellow kitchen, yellow walls
The big trend in design right now is to pair yellow and gray together. You can use a deep charcoal with a vibrant yellow, or a silver gray with a buttery yellow with equal success.
yellow and gray interior, yellow and gray decorating
If drama is what you are looking for, black and yellow combine for a knock-out style punch! It is also a favorite of my Pittsburgh friends :)
yellow and black dining room
Red paired with yellow is a perfect combination for establishing a traditional Country French look.

Defining Your Space
To emulate the feeling of outdoor rooms, you can define the areas with any variety of techniques.

Sheer Drapes
sheers on bamboo poles
For this outdoor room, a frame was constructed from bamboo poles and then hung with sheer white curtains. They give a definition to the space, with an ethereal feeling when the curtains dance in the breeze. 

outdoor decorating, defined areas
The wooden pergola defines the spa area, while an outdoor area rug defines the seating area. Plants surrounding the entire scene give it a feeling of seclusion and intimacy.

hardscape defined areas
The above picture combines a number of hardscaping techniques as well as other modern trends to define the separate areas in this backyard. The furnished "living room" is grounded by the pergola, the fire pit has built-in stone benches, and there is an additional planter for summer flowers. This option would certainly be a hefty, albeit worthwhile investment!
In This Issue
Outdoor Decorating
Color of the Month
Defining Your Space
Quote of the Month
The Trend Report
The Green Report
Recipe of the Month
A Fun Idea
Quote of the Month
"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."
        ~James Matthew Barrie
The Trend Report
I've got three trends to share, and all of them are affordable options for your own  outdoor decorating plans.

indoor outdoor poufs
These poofs are made of weather resistant fabric and foam and come in every color of the rainbow. They can be used as extra seating or can do double duty as a coffee table if you place a tray on top.
Bed Porch Swing
bed swing, outdoor furniture, porch swing
These are so popular you can find them in virtually every design magazine that is out there right now. You can buy one pre-made, or you can make one yourself. Be sure your mattress is wrapped in a  waterproof cover before you put the decorative cover on it!

Fabric Awnings
awnings, fabric awnings
While they have been out of favor for many years, awnings are making a renaissance. Custom made retractable awnings can help shield you from the sun's burning rays, or you can create a more casual DIY- awning from yards of fabric hoisted up by some poles.
The Green Report
Reduce, reuse, and recycle is the mantra around here and I've got three easy outdoor decorating ideas that will use items commonly found in your recycling bins.

 Citronella Candle
wine bottle lantern,  DIY citronella candle
Everybody loves an evening out on the deck, but not when they are being served as dinner. To protect yourself from biting bugs, simply fill a recycled wine bottle with citronella oil, add a wick (you can wire it to the neck of the bottle) and you are protected for hours. 

Jar Vases
jar vase, flower arrangement, summer arrangement
Summer provides a profusion of flowers, and instead of searching for a vase, simply dig into your recycling bin. Make sure the jar is clean, and then add water and flowers. For additional color you can fill the vase with sliced fruit before adding the arrangement.

Tin Can Votives
tin can votive
To make these punched-tin votive holders, fill clean cans with water and freeze until solid. Next, using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can in whatever pattern you select. (The ice prevents the can from collapsing as you are hammering in the nails.) When your pattern is finished, allow the ice to melt into a sink or basin since the water will leak out of the holes. Once the water is gone, just add your candle and watch  the design glow.
Recipe of the Month
I have yet to meet a gardener who plants zucchini that does not have an overabundant crop they are trying to give away. This is a new way to enjoy the bounty.
zucchini and ricotta fritters
Zucchini and Ricotta Fritters

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 T minced fresh parsley  

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 medium zucchini, scrubbed and ends trimmed (about 1 1/4 pounds)

salt and ground black pepper

1 3/4 cups plain bread crumbs

vegetable oil for pan-frying

lemon wedges


Combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest in a large bowl.

Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater.  Wrap with a few paper towels or a kitchen towel and squeeze tightly to remove as much moisture as possible.  Add the zucchini to the ricotta mixture, and season with salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine, and add enough bread crumbs so that the mixture is no longer sticky - about 1 cup or so.

Spread the remaining bread crumbs on a plate.

Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Take about 1/3 cup of the zucchini mixture and form into a 3-inch patty.  Dredge both sides with the bread crumbs.  Place the patty on a baking sheet or platter and repeat with the remaining zucchini mixture. You should have about 15 fritters.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Dip the edge of a fritter in the oil.  If it sizzles, the oil is ready. If at any point the oil starts to smoke, reduce the heat. 

Add as many fritters as will fit comfortably in the pan.  Cook about 4 minutes per side, until the bottoms are a rich golden brown, turning once.

Transfer the cooked fritters to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining ones. 

To serve, divide evenly among serving plates and serve with lemon wedges.
Follow-up Links
A Fun Idea
If you are wondering what to serve at your summer party, here is an adorable idea that your guests will love. And even better, it is healthy, too! What more could you ask?
fruit, party food
Save 15%
Now is the time to make your backyard ready for summer and save 15%!
Offer is good on furniture, area rugs, lighting, and accessories for
outdoor decorating.
Call 704.608-9424
today to schedule your in-home or in-office consultation.
Feel free to share this special offer with family, friends, or neighbors.


Offer Expires: 6/30/13