Living

AT HOME WITH MATT & SHARI: Create your 'other' living room outdoors

The truth is we have grown to LOVE our outdoor spaces, resurrecting our living rooms with a twist out on the patio. It doesn't seem to matter whether we can only use them for several months of the year, or all year long, we still have begun decorating them like we do indoors.

Because of this trend, the kinds of outdoor merchandise available is ever-increasing -- from full kitchens to dining and living rooms to outdoor beds!

My dilemma is how far to go with the outdoor decorating. I found a very comfortable sofa and matching pair of chairs. The cushions them are more plush than the ones on my furniture indoors, and I actually prefer the way they feel to their indoor counterparts.

The fabric is made by Sunbrella and is weather resistant. I've had the pieces for two years. The fabric has been wet from rain, and the ottoman has been soaked since it's not quite in a covered area. None of the pieces have an unpleasant aroma, and the material is as soft as it was the day I bought it. As for dirt, I do have to brush the furniture off before we sit down, but nothing has stained or deteriorated the fabric one bit.

Once those pieces were in place, I picked up a couple of accessory pillows and accessories for the coffee table. In the old days, that would have been enough. Today, as I sit staring at this pitiful display of my talents, I realize that there is so much more that I need!

As you all know, rugs are made to take the weather as well, and I've ordered a couple -- one for under my outdoor dining table and one to help define the conversation area. These will add softness to the space. I doubt if the acoustics will change, but I'll feel better about the look.

Next, I need to add some lighting. I already have some light from my porch light, but for task lighting I'll need to add at least a table lamp to the side table and then perhaps try to find a matching floor lamp for the other end of the sofa.

Did you know there are actual outdoor light fixtures that imitate the look and designs of those indoors? Some have shades that the fabric can be removed from and washed. I wish I could do that with some of my interior lamps!

I only have one side table, but you know, a sofa table would sure round out my arrangement....along with draperies made from outdoor fabric to imitate the draperies in the window right behind the arrangement...hmmm.

Then, I definitely feel the need for some greenery. Of course, living in Florida, greenery is easy to come by year-round. Perhaps I'll pick up a couple of potted palm trees and geraniums, which look great nearly all year here.

OK, rugs, lamps, perhaps more furniture, greenery, oh yes, I will definitely need more accessories. I don't even have any artwork on the walls. What was I thinking?

Today you can purchase artwork that is sun fade resistant and weather resistant as well. I'm talking about actual paintings, not just interesting ironwork or plaster molds, which are wonderful as well. Add an outdoor clock, a stereo system, oh and don't forget the projection flat screen as well, and finally I'll have this dump in shape.

I talked this whole idea over with my husband and with my co-host Matt Fox. Now I don't know if it's because we have a pool or not, but they both think I've gone off the deep end!

Well maybe I have, but the fact remains -- if you can dream it, it can be done with all of the wonderful products that are now available. So, arm yourself with all this information, and I wish you luck in the creating your outdoor living room.

Matt Fox and Shari Hiller, authors of "Matt and Shari's Great Weekend Projects" (DRG Publishers), also appear together frequently on HGTV.

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