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Outside the Lines

There is no wall in crossing from indoors out this season. Here, a compilation of inspirational projects, expert advice and the best new finds for a seamless flow to a spectacularly stylish outdoor retreat.

Arguably one of the most interesting examples of double-duty, the yard of this new construction home in Lincoln Park features custom glass obelisks as the indoor pool skylight, illuminated to provide a glowing garden feature. Customized by BGD&C, with landscape design by Hoerr Schaudt  and landscape installation by Mariani Landscape, the prisms add a modern touch to the expansive space that boasts elements of a traditional garden with the functionality suited to a contemporary lifestyle. BGD&C Luxury Custom Home Builders, 875 N. Michigan Ave., 312.255.8300

With 2,000 square feet of outdoor space to work with, designer Bruce Fox had a large, blank slate to achieve the casual indoor-outdoor lifestyle his clients were looking to replicate after downsizing to the city from the suburbs. Working with Catherine Osika of Burns + Beyerl Architects and Brian Culliton of Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture, Fox and the team created three separate rooms, each with its own unique element: a fire pit, a water feature and a living green wall with herbs, annuals and succulents. Keeping their clients’ preference for informal entertaining in mind, the entire space has a cozy, comfortable vibe that accommodates intimate family dinners as easily as large parties. This seating area, beside the dining room that runs underneath the modern pergola, provides a comfortable resting spot with a Kingsley Bate settee, a concrete table from Restoration Hardware and a Perennials outdoor rug from David Sutherland. The result is the best of both worlds: city living with the convenience and luxuries of a suburban space.
Bruce Fox Design, 440 N. Wells St., Ste. 620, 312.464.0077

Photography by Nathan Kirkman 


What innovations are making the most of outdoor space in Chicago?

“A lot of homes are using Astro Turf, or synthetic grass, as area rugs to break up spaces programmatically. It’s animal-friendly, weather-resistant, low-maintenance and maintains its vibrancy year-round. Heating is in high demand—which extends the life of outdoor spaces­—such as fire pits and modern electrical heaters that can be integrated into metal structures and beams. Outdoor TVs are now slimmer, modern and more affordable, and they are capable of withstanding Chicago winters, making them a new essential for any outdoor space. Lighting is key to being able to use a space at night, and we are designing more and more spaces with the latest products that enhance the plants and make the space seem larger.”

Alvaro J. Vanegas, architectural designer, Urban Rooftops, 3120 N. Sheffield Ave., 773.993.1307

With a heritage home from 1881 in the heart of Lincoln Park, there is little you can do to transform an exterior facade. However, small moves can have big effects, as designer Allison Delaney, of Honsen Interiors, proved with this renovation project. Her main priority was to rebuild the rooftop terrace, the existing trellis and the stairs leading down to the terrace by the entrance at the main level (shown here). Anchoring the oasis-like space is a built-in sofa with integrated side tables and cushions made with fabric from Lee Jofa, a pretty but unfussy colorway inspired by the label of a GT’s Kombucha drink. “I wanted something that wasn’t overly feminine, while not obviously masculine like stripes or plaid,” she explains. The wood trellis was rebuilt with a gray hue, and the decking throughout was replaced. The entire space “introduces some modernity to the otherwise traditional architecture of the home’s outdoor space,” notes Delaney. Honsen Interiors, 312.890.9059

Photography courtesy of Honsen Interiors 


What are the biggest trends in outdoor living and garden design you are excited about this season?

“In terms of outdoor living and design, we have a wide scope of projects going on, and in all of them, people have a real thirst for live growing things around them. This includes indoors and out—whether it’s a rooftop, balcony, windowsill or the side of a parkway—along with an increased awareness for sustainability and a desire for plants that will live all year. We have a new line of 100 percent recycled-plastic material pots that are so good-looking we are already reordering them! They are great inside or out and come in black, charcoal and light gray, so they don’t take away from what you’re putting in them. I’m also excited about our new Terrarium Bar. We have all the materials, and space, at your fingertips to easily customize your own creation of any size or shape.”

Connie Rivera, owner and founder, City Escape Garden Center & Design Studio, 3022 W. Lake St., 773.638.2000

Summer Classics has a lot to celebrate this season: an improved luxury concept store with a new location, a recent rebrand to SC Home and the new Delray collection. Made of marine-grade stainless steel and Bayline duo sling, the arm and lounge chairs and armless chaises give new meaning to the term modern comfort. The neutral colorway and a teak inlay on the arms make them a great mix-and-match piece. Price upon request, SC Home, 1850 Second St., Ste. 162, Highland Park, 847.926.3069


If you’ve been into Haute Living’s new and improved showroom, you’ve likely been stopped in your tracks by Imperfetto Lab’s stunning Nido chair. The circular form was inspired by a bird’s nest, intended to provide a cocoon-like space to relax, yet the overall effect is more like a work of art. Available in white, black and a striking iridescent metallic, it remarkably withstands rain and sunshine, making it a must-have statement piece for any outdoor space. From $2,118, 213 W. Institute Place, 312.329.9000



What plant types do you suggest, and advice do you have, for planting on rooftops and balconies?

“When planning your deck, start with larger architectural pieces to create the visual backbone of the space, then see what the negative space is doing. I like using neutral colorations in larger containers, then building color on top of that. It’s easy to modify your color palette at a later date since you only have to change out the smaller pieces. In Chicago’s climate, you have to be careful what your pots are made of because many of them crack with the expansion and contraction of the soil, so avoid most ceramic, fiberglass and resin, or be prepared to store them. Seek out plant material that can handle colder temperatures at its root system and tolerate the watering cycle you are able to provide. They are not receiving natural warmth or water from the ground, so it helps to insulate the container.”

Tara Heibel, owner and floral and garden designer, Sprout Home, 745 N. Damen Ave., 312.226.5950


French company Sifas has always embraced an indoor-outdoor sensibility, and the new Kalife collection designed by Eric Carrère is no different. Comprising two modular settees, an armchair and ottoman, and this love seat, it is made of matte gray braided polyester and comes with Sunbrella accent cushions in the color of the moment, yellow. The elegantly tapered form looks beautiful from any angle, and we’ll bet kicking back in it suits any mood. From $11,460, Anacara Company, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Ste. 14-127, 312.527.1213

The brainchild of Italian architect Antonio Citterio, B&B Italia’s Ginestra collection includes a series of round and rectangular dining tables designed for stylish outdoor feasting. Crafted from natural teak, the pieces are accented with inserts of white Calacatta porcelain stoneware, creating an eye-catching contrast to the wood construction. The line also includes a Nordic design-inspired teak chair featuring interlacing polypropylene fibers for added flair. Tables from $7,767, chair from $1,228, Luminaire, 301 W. Superior St.