I’m writing to you during the middle of fall (in the northeast, of all places), and there’s one thing on my mind. It’s not what I’m buying my family for Christmas, nor does it involve the sweaters I’ll be stocking in my closet this season. Sure, all of those things live rent-free in my head, but I’m proud to say that I’m more prepped for the summer than I’ve been in years passed. Believe it or not, I’m talking about outdoor entertaining design. And with the temps being in the 40’s in New England, I’m sure you think I’m being a little overzealous. But no, I’m simply ahead of the game.
Let me explain. When I learned that Camille would be lending her expertise to the Living by Design Virtual Showhouse, I knew I needed to steal her tips and approach—asap. The Embello team invited Camille to join a roster of top-tier designers (Bobby Berk and Brigette Romanek, among them) to create a virtual, shoppable experience that highlights innovative, inspiring design.
To dive in even further, I spoke with Ana Maria Bernal, an Austin-based design consultant for Summer Classics, the brand behind the stunning outdoor furniture that Camille chose for the Showhouse. Today, she’s sharing her game-changing approach to outdoor entertaining design. Because as we all know: you can never be too prepared for warm-weather gatherings.
Any furniture used for an outdoor dining area will have to withstand the elements. What are the best materials with consideration to both functionality and aesthetics?
All materials offered as options in our Summer Classics line are suitable for outdoor. These are a few questions that can determine what is best for our clients:
- Is your outdoor area covered, screened in, or open?
- What is your style preference?
- What is the color scheme of the architectural components, such as paint and flooring, countertops, cabinetry, etc?
For a seamless alfresco dining experience, the furniture should blend cohesively with the surrounding nature. How can buyers get inspired by their environment and select pieces that pair well?
Second to good food and great drink, comfortable furniture is everything when enjoying a wonderful al fresco dinner. When working with families, I like to have them test the furniture to make sure it’s comfortable. If they have a great view of a patio, pool, lake, or golf course, I like to make sure the furniture enhances those features rather than blocking them.
In terms of placement and creating the greatest sense of flow from the home into the outdoors, how should the dining area be positioned?
Space planning is as critical to a space as the furniture you implement. Most outdoor areas tend to mix dining with seating, and many have architectural components that determine the layout.
A good space is easy to navigate, safe if you are carrying trays or other objects, allows for both activities to occur comfortably, and honors the natural surroundings.
How do you approach designating between the dining area and the entertaining areas of the outdoor space?
There are several basic measurements that are good to keep in mind, like giving a 3-foot distance between a dining table and a wall or other objects for easy accessibility. The following questions can be helpful to consider when designing the space:
- If you are watching TV, how far and how high is the seating from the TV?
- Do you need or have end tables, side tables, or a fire pit, that needs extra space? These considerations will affect size or degree of inclination of your furniture pieces.
- Is the lighting reflecting on the TV screen?
The pieces from the Summer Classics collection exude a mid-century modern, California-cool vibe. How can homeowners with more eclectic tastes still incorporate these furnishings into their outdoor dining space?
Although our line is often shown or perceived as cool California, it is actually one of the most versatile outdoor lines I have ever known. From our traditional Provance cast iron pieces to our Majorca neoclassical swivel rockers to our Rustic weave sectionals to our clean line, minimalist Seashore Endura chaises. There is enough variety in style and finishes to create one of a kind spaces for all.
Thank you to our incredible sponsor of this article— Summer Classics, And, to YouSee, for transforming my idea into this stunning 3D visualization.