California designer Jennifer DeLonge shares her best tips for a creating stylish outdoor space.
By Terry Trucco
When California designer Jennifer DeLonge fashions an inviting patio, she believes the sky's the limit. "The trick is to apply indoor decorating rules outdoors," says DeLonge, mother of two and creator of a children's furniture line. That means composing seating areas using comfy, indoor/outdoor furnishings. DeLonge favors versatile pieces and personal touches that make the backyard feel more homey. And she isn't afraid to use bold pops of color. DeLonge transforms her patio into a living area, a place for dining and a cheery play spot for kids Ava, 7, and Jonas, 3. Who says a room needs a ceiling?
A patio or deck situated in the shade of a big tree is the perfect place to roll out a rug, arrange some furniture and create an instant room.
If you could peek inside DeLonge's house, the living room arrangement might look a lot like this—a sofa with an ottoman, a couple of chairs and maybe a small table. To define the area, she sets out an inexpensive flat-weave rug —DeLonge likes stripes and animal prints—and borders it with potted plants. "Everyone feels much more comfortable in an intimate setting," she says. "You don't want your furniture to look like it's floating in a great big space."
Relaxed dining starts with furniture that isn't a perfect match. A wood table designed for outdoor use communes effortlessly with nature, especially when paired with lightweight chairs. "Folding chairs can also look great around a patio table, DeLonge says. "They're usually inexpensive, and you can never have too many."
"Outdoor rooms shouldn't be just for adults," says DeLonge. "It's great to get kids involved in creating their own place." All you need is a table and stools borrowed from their rooms. When choosing furniture, DeLonge looks for scaled-down adult pieces that will work in a grown-up or child's space. "I don't like it to look like kiddie furniture," she says. She designed the hot pink wood table for youngsters, but it also works as a hip addition to the family room.
Originally published in the July 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.