By Christina Bruce, originally published in the July-August 2019 Issue of Portfolio Magazine.

As the lucky ones who get to live in paradise, we spend a lot of time outdoors. Our outdoor patios and porches become like another room in our home. It’s with that idea in mind that I love to design outdoor spaces that have the feel of bringing the comforts of the indoors out. Outdoor fabrics and furnishing have come a long way from the days of those chairs with plastic straps that left your backside looking like a piece of bacon.

The technology for producing the materials that make outdoor furniture and fabrics durable to the elements has advanced tremendously, giving us more options and comfort. While I still like the look of some of the classic outdoor furniture materials, like teak and wicker, the outdoor woods or woven natural materials like true wicker need to be refinished and have a shorter lifespan. Many of the products made using plastic materials can provide an incredibly maintenance-free piece. They also allow for fun and unique designs, like the amazing chair pictured here. This is the Napa Lounge Chair from our very own local treasure, David Francis Furniture. The chair is made of UV resistant fibers over powder-coated aluminum- an ultimate marriage of style and ease of maintenance. You can select from one of their many outdoor materials for this chair and retails at $1,260.

Outdoor fabrics can now be found from nearly every manufacturer in a variety of colors and patterns. The “hand” of these fabrics (fancy designer lingo for the way a fabric feels) has become so soft and luxurious that I often use outdoor fabrics on indoor upholstery simply for the durability to stains and fading. While these fabrics can sometimes be more expensive than their indoor counterparts, they are often worth the investment especially in active households with children and pets. It’s never a good idea to use indoor materials outside, especially in completely uncovered areas as they will fade and disintegrate quickly. It’s equally important to make sure all of the internal cushions on outdoor furniture and pillows are made for outdoors unless you’re a fan of mildew.

My two favorite ways to truly make an outdoor space feel like an extension of the home is with area rugs and lighting. There are many different options for outdoor rugs these days. Like the outdoor fabrics, many are so comfortable that it’s hard to believe they can be used outdoors. There are also other options, made of the plastic products previously mentioned, that are so durable you can literally hose them off. There are also a wide variety of outdoor lighting pendants and chandeliers that can truly finish a space. Check the rating of the fixture you’re using as some are rated for damp areas like a covered patio, and others are wet rated and can be completely exposed to the elements. Be sure to use a licensed electrician to install these fixtures. This is definitely not the time for a DIY project to save a couple of bucks. If you use the proper materials, you can have a beautiful outdoor space to enjoy for years to come.