Welcome to SHM Designs where life is our inspiration. Our company designs interiors and exteriors of homes, furniture and accessories. We are passionate about creating a home which is not only beautiful, but comfortable and functional as well. Our number one goal in every design is to create such a feeling that all you can do is SMILE!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Outdoor Rooms and Gardens

The design trend over the last several years has been to create spectacular outdoor living areas. When looking online or through landscape magazines and books, one can easily and quickly feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Not only from the task at hand but primarily from the cost involved (even if you are doing it yourself). Therefore, my suggestion to you is to look at these beautiful inspiring pictures basically like modular decor. Each piece is a separate entity that can be placed and replaced a million different ways.

I want to use this post to look at some beautiful outdoor living areas and break them down into pieces so you can actually be inspired to create the look that you dream to have.  Lets start  designing.....

Archtectual Digest

How does this room make you feel? For me the words relaxing, peaceful, soft and soothing come to mind.  While the water is a prominent factor in establishing those feelings, there are other key elements that help create this mood. First, the combinations of the colors play a huge role. The soft green of the wicker furniture paired with the neutral tones of the table, chairs and rugs are very soothing to ones eye. While the white hanging curtains blowing in the breeze instills a sense of relaxation. By using the right color combinations and textures along with utilizing the natural elements in your surroundings you can achieve the same look and feel of this room without the water.

Another outdoor design challenge to recreate is one with a fireplace. They are costly, anywhere for 15-20 thousand dollars, and can be impossible to add to an already existing porch or patio without alot of reconstruction. So what do you do.....

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Forget about ever having you dream room....OR... Think outside the box and look for solutions. I choose the second alternative and here's how to do it.

Hub Pages

E How

Wood burning fireplaces are a great solution to adding a fireplace element without the cost. There are a wide variety of designs to fit any decor style and they are much more affordable with prices ranging from $800-$2,000 dollars. Furthermore, the ability to fairly easily move these units make this investment even more desirable.

Another alternative would be a faux fireplace look....

Unknown Source

This mantel was bought off of Craigslist, sanded, painted and then placed against the wall. A piece of wood was nailed to the back of the mantel and the whole interior was painted black. Add tiers of candles in place of logs and you have a beautiful look for almost no cost. This project was done for $100 dollars.  Although the "fireplace " in these pictures are for an inside room, creating this look for a covered porch or patio can be done in the same way.  The only extra step is to make sure you seal the painted wood with a clear coat of polyurethane.

David Tsay

There is also a wide selection of outdoor fire pits for a variety of costs which can be another solution to adding a fireplace to an outdoor setting.

Decor Pad

Clearing a dense area of vegetation and placing simple outdoor furniture can create a dramatic effect that is simply beautiful and very cost effective.


When looking through home magazines and books you will see the trend to use large ornate chandeliers on  patios and porches that typically you only saw indoors. This can add a huge expensive to an outdoor budget. 

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DP Cohen

My solution...

Drum Lighting

Southern Living

Chandeliers and sconces which use candles instead of light bulbs are a perfect solution to an outdoor lighting challenge. Not only are they extremely less expensive, no electrical work is needed (which would add to the cost), they can be easily moved or changed, and in alot of cases I like the mood that they create better then traditional lighting.

In starting this topic, I didn't realize how much there was to talk about. I have only touched on what I want to discuss, but my children are on spring break and are eager for my attention. Therefore, I am going to spread this topic out over the next couple of posts. Hopefully, I have given you a few solutions to some of your outdoor challenges already but I have alot more up my sleeve.

I am going to the beach for the Easter Weekend so I will talk to you next week.  Have a wonderful holiday.

Take Care,

For help designing a room that makes you smile, contact me and ask about my design services.

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