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Bold summer decorating ideas

Does your outdoor space need a summer makeover? We profile the top accessories and looks for the season.

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Decorating ideas that can transform your space for the sunny season using colour, pattern.

Evandra Panych grew up in a community outside Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a house her parents painted every year. No colour was off limits. “I think the house was orange at one point,” she recalls.

That annual ritual inspired Panych, now an interior designer with her own business, to love and appreciate colour. She gives design advice to her family who still live in Brazil, but now her focus is on her own new home in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. And colour is playing a big role. “I always think green because you always see green outside in the summer,” she says. “And blue, of course, because of the water. Those colours are timeless…It can work in any space.” She loves other colours, too, especially orange, which is popping up in design and décor this season.

Evandra’s sketch of her plan for her summer patio space. Colour, texture and natural products are all key elements in her design.

Her current focus is decorating her outdoor space, a two-level deck and pool area. “We’re deck lovers,” Panych says. “It’s the room we use the most.”

She’s already sketched a design for her deck. Its sitting area includes a love seat, two chairs, a table and a chimenea (a small, freestanding fireplace with a round body and vertical vent). A barbecue sits in one corner.

For Panych, the deck is the perfect place to experiment with design and colour. “I like to be more adventurous with colour because you only spend part of the year out there,” she says.

Looking to replace the plastic birdhouse currently on her patio, Evandra has her eye on these charming birdhouses from Attica Furnishings in Halifax. Photo by Rachael Shrum

Her accents include colourful and textured outdoor pillows, with some in orange and others in patterns and mixes of bright yellow, orange, blue and red. Vases in orange, blue and green add other hits of colour. She chose outdoor dinnerware in a pattern of blue, green and cream.

Colourful, textured pillows will refresh any space, indoors or out. On a search for ideas to enliven her deck, Halifax decorator Evandra Panych loves these patchwork pillows from Wicker Emporium. Photo by Rachael Shrum

It’s these elements that stand out in the design. “Sometimes when it comes to accessories, I like to go beyond my comfort zone,” Panych says. She plans on including other details such as lanterns, candles and a green birdfeeder—she wants to replace the plastic feeder currently on her deck.

Buying just a few new pillows is a simple and inexpensive way to brighten up your outdoor space. These pillows from Pier 1 are in a summery blue-and-green palette.

Nancy Lopes, owner at Cottage Industry Furniture and Home Décor in Charlottetown, says people are putting more thought into their patios and decks. “It’s really a three-season room,” she says, noting that homeowners often screen in decks and patios so they can get more use from the spaces.

Extending patio season means adjusting furniture and design choices. Gone are the inexpensive plastic patio sets that last one summer. Homeowners are investing in durable outdoor furniture that will withstand the elements.

Rugs, too, are weather resistant and often manufactured from polypropylene. It’s not as soft on the feet as an indoor rug, but it’s low-maintenance and can withstand heat, cold and rain.

Choosing an outdoor rug in a vibrant colour or pattern can be an easy change for those on a budget. “An outdoor rug would freshen up a patio space for sure,” Lopes says.

“When it comes to accessories, I like to go beyond my comfort zone”

Candles, outdoor lamps and lanterns can be other quick fixes for deck décor. But ditch the patio lanterns. For a more modern way to light up your outdoor space, consider outdoor floor lamps. These have polycarbonate shades that can withstand the elements and you can control the lights with a remote.

Evandra lounges in the outdoor Swingasan chair from Pier 1. It even has a handy magazine rack on the side where you can stow your most recent copy of East Coast Living. Photo by Rachael Shrum

Lopes says her summer stock is certainly colourful, with orange leading the charge. If you are looking to play with colour but worry about going overboard, buy furniture in a more neutral tone. You can be bolder with your accessories in the space. Bright blues, hot pinks, sunshine yellows and fire reds are big this season.

“You can’t go wrong with orange if your sofa is a colour like cream, beige or even charcoal,” Lopes says. More traditional neutrals, such as navy, are always staples.

Colour is not the only factor Panych takes into account with her designs. Brazilians, she says, also like to feature plants and natural materials in their spaces. Her deck plan includes a natural wicker basket to hold the logs for the chimenea, a bamboo tray and baskets made of coconut fibre for hanging flowers.

Another Brazilian touch is having a playful element in the space, giving it a sense of humour. That could mean adding a whimsical piece of art or a colourful plate in an otherwise traditional looking room. In her kitchen, Panych plans on hanging a colourful plate with a bird motif, a gift from her mother.

Whimsical glass lanterns from Pier 1 can light up any outdoor space. Photo by Rachael Shrum

Panych is always in design mode and often brainstorms about transforming the dreariest places. Several years ago when her son was in the hospital for cancer treatment, she spent hours thinking of fun ways to redesign his clinical looking room. It was a way for her to find fun in a difficult situation. Her son is now eight and cancer free.

For Panych, design and décor is not just about creating a colourful space—it’s also therapeutic. “When I design something and people say, ‘Wow,’ you can see the difference it makes in someone’s life,” she says.

East Coast Living