Bright Ideas!

Enhance your home’s comfort and style this summer with words to the wise from local interior experts.



As we downshift into summer and get ready to relax on the porch or patio, our design focus naturally drifts to the great outdoors. Even in this carefree season of laid-back style, we’re still on a quest for fresh inspiration. So we talked to the pros, to get their best advice for outdoor living and design. A generous group of local experts shared tips for not only alfresco décor and entertaining but also perennial interior projects. Whether you’re building an outdoor kitchen or planning a kitchen remodel, hanging up a new hammock or changing out your bed linens, these ideas will enhance your home’s comfort and style.

Open Up to Kitchen Trends

“Every kitchen layout is different. To make the most of the space when you’re renovating, think about how you’re going to treat the corners. There are some fabulous corner-cabinet ideas out there today: swing-outs and pull-outs from Hafele and the Not-So-Lazy-Susan from Glidware, which spins the pots and pans around and out to you. Another, newer, trend is interior cabinet lighting. Lights go on automatically when you open doors and turn off when you close them. To open a deep pantry closet and have it well lit is a big bonus.” Arthur Zobel, Majestic Kitchens

 

Perfect Your Pergola

“Contemporary pergolas made by Belgian company Renson are an excellent poolhouse alternative. They’re super-multifunctional. You can have drop-down screens to protect you from the sun and a louvered roof that lets in air and cools you off. They come with sound bars, LED lighting, sliding shutter panels, to block unwanted views, and heating systems, to extend the outdoor-living season.” —Stuart Sheppard, GWT Outdoor and Greenwich Window Treatments

 

Spruce Up the Sunroom 

 

Be Playful, Not Perfect

“I love to create an outside room that we use daily until cooler days arrive. We have drapes, loosely tied on the bottom around the outdoor dining table, and fairy lights, which create a magical space at night. We have an eclectic collection of cushions, chairs, and table settings, with vintage brass cutlery from when my mom lived in Singapore. For us, summer is a bit more bohemian, not perfect, and a little messy (especially with two boys running around). Our vegetable garden, with fresh lettuce, strawberries, peas, and lots of flowers, helps create an inviting space even with a smaller backyard.” —Tiffany Costanzo, C Studio Design

 

 

Bring the Inside Out 

“Create fully functional living spaces outdoors as you would indoors. Take your lifestyle into consideration, thinking about how you would set up your indoor living space, and take that concept to your patio or yard. Throw pillows can bring life to your outdoor spaces. I love to entertain, so I turned a concrete console into a fantastic bar where my guests can feel free to pour themselves a cocktail.” —Robert Passal, Robert Passal Interiors

Chill by the Grill 

 

 

Flex Your Furniture

“Glazed ceramic stools from White Birch Studio in Westport are a must-have for porches or outdoor space. The contemporary indoor-outdoor cubes come in gorgeous colors: orange, apple green, cerulean blue, cream. You can use them as stools or end tables. They introduce a punch of color and a different material with the shiny ceramic.” —Dorye Brown, Dorye Brown Interiors

 

Update for Sale, Renovate for You

“I always suggest that homeowners remodel to their own tastes; it’s a bad idea to assume that your renovation will yield a profit. If you buy in a peak market and sell in a recessive one, it doesn’t matter how stellar your renovation was; the buyer has the advantage. Go for what you love! Real estate is much more complicated than what HGTV lets on. There are markets within Westchester, at certain price points, that will result in bidding wars regardless of the condition of the home. Tarrytown is one of them. However, if you’re in a market or price point that requires remodeling for sale, remove items that date the house, like polished-brass fixtures and green marble from the ’90s or curvilinear melamine cabinets that scream the ’80s. If you have carpet over beautiful hardwood, remove it.” —Melissa Colabella, Julia B. Fee Realty

 

Tech it Out 

“People want to extend their lifestyles into their backyards, and there are so many innovations now: outdoor TVs, sound systems, everything working off your smartphone. And you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a mason to come in and build a stone-and-concrete outdoor kitchen. There’s a company called Danver that does powder-coated stainless-steel cabinets — you could be on the Barrier Reef, and this stuff would last; there’s no wood. It’s the same company that produces all of Brown Jordan’s cabinets.” —Jim McInerney, Karen Berkemeyer Home

 

Plant an Inspired Landscape 

Savor Simplicity

“ My mantra is ‘keep it simple, keep it low maintenance, make it easy — and try to enjoy the outdoors every day.’ Skip nickel lanterns that can rust and need to be lit every night. Target does amazing outdoor things, including wicker solar-powered lights that are attractive and go on automatically — it makes everything seamless. Not everyone can have an outdoor fireplace, but a basic fire pit can bring wonderful memories. We often entertain, and the highlight is not the swimming but the s’mores. All the kids want to know is 'are we going to make s’mores? Woodland Direct sells a modern-looking linear fire pit that’s very affordable.” —Rajni Alex, Rajni Alex Design 

 

Go to Prep School

“With an outdoor kitchen, I design a space that follows the same principles as an indoor kitchen. You should have a work triangle with a grill area, as well as a burner or two for sauces or boiling, counter space for prep. An outdoor sink and refrigerator should be within reach. I like a minimum of 39 to 42 inches between counters, so if you’re placing an island, there will be plenty of room. Low-maintenance materials are the trend. Think quartz counters or dark stones that are easy to keep clean and tile backsplashes with large tiles or solid slabs, so there are few grout lines to stain — things that allow a cook to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with guests .” —Raif Branca, New Dimensions Remodeling

 

Mix It Up 

Blend traditional outdoor matching furniture sets with new side chairs and add great patterns and rich colors to your outdoor pillows, choosing fabrics that are pretty enough to use inside, too. Wheel out your bar cart to welcome guests and add lanterns to your tables to light up the night. All-weather coffee tables and cool wicker swivel stools are hot sellers here at Nest.” —Bets Miller, Nest Inspired Home

 

Rest Easy 

“Treat yourself to a completely new set of bed linens. White sheets feel right in the summer. I like Serena and Lily with crisp contrast bands. Banish the duvet and replace it with lightweight cotton blankets — maybe in a cheerful stripe. Pare down the throw pillows. A slightly more Zen vibe and simpler lifestyle are welcome in the warmer months.” —Carey Karlan, The Last Detail

 

Think Neutral 

 

 

Host a Moveable Feast 

For parties outside, I have small, light folding benches in leather — some are orange or cognac luggage color — that I picked up at Home Goods. You can stick them out on the deck or porch when you need them and fold them up [when you don’t]. When I want to dress up my outdoor seating, I will bring out furniture that’s been inside my house: end tables, throw pillows. It takes on a whole different look.”  
—Dorye Brown, Dorye Brown Interiors

 

Find Natural Inspiration 

“My go-to place for outdoor decor is Terrain in Westport. You will quickly be inspired the moment you walk through the door, as the store creates beautiful, natural, and peaceful outdoor settings. The nursery and greenhouse staff are very knowledgeable. For outdoor rugs, I encourage my clients to consider Dash & Albert indoor-outdoor pet-friendly propylene rugs. The rugs come in a wide range of colors and prints, and they’re timeless and super easy to clean. —Jackie McDonnell, Jackie McDonnell Design

 

Trick Out Your TV 

“TVs are getting bigger and bigger, and for those who want to entertain in the living room without a piece of black plastic hanging on the wall, Reflectel is the ultimate in form and function. With this hybrid product, people can have a television above their mantel that looks like a beautiful mirror when it’s off and turns into a TV with 70-percent light transmission (the brightest picture possible) when they’re hosting an Oscar party or showing photos from their recent trip to Europe or watching any time. It’s great for a multi-purpose room too, where the kids watch TV during the day and at night the adults want to enjoy their home décor when they have company. Reflectel is installed in the guest rooms at the Baccarat Hotel in New York.” —Elizabeth Goldfeder, GK Framing Group and Reflectel

 

Glam Your Tabletop 

For outdoor dining, I recommend investing in pretty melamine dinnerware. It’s much classier than paper or plastic, it’s eco-friendly, and it won’t break. I love how the sapphire blue Ruffle plates from Q Squared give my table a brush of summer color.” 

—Lara Michelle, Lara Michelle Beautiful Interiors Inc.  

Lighten Up 

 

Get the Blues 

Though green may be the color of spring and the Pantone Color of the Year, summer is inspired by the blue hues of the sea and the sky. Change out heavy woven pillows in darker shades for light, fresh linen ones in your favorite summer colors of turquoise, yellows, etc. Blur the lines between indoors and out by using sheer drapes in shades of white or remove the window coverings altogether.”  —Stephanie Rapp, Stephanie Rapp Interiors

 

 

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