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By The Editors with Elaine Markoutsas | Photo: Outdoor kitchen photo by Cynthia Lynn | April 29, 2015
As warmer temperatures beckon us outside, make the move as stylishly as possible. To get you started, here are the trends, products and projects to inspire your own stunning alfresco oasis.
“Our clients had purchased the lot next door to this home, so we were hired to knit the two spaces together without punching a bunch of windows into the elevation,” says architect Elissa Morgante of Morgante-Wilson Architects. “The green wall activates the elevation and provides art and softness for the garden,” she continues. The feature wall bridges the two spaces and provides a lovely view from the back lot; another part of the project was the addition of a sunroom to enjoy the beautiful vantage point of the garden and wall. The team’s inspiration for the scheme had come from a recent trip to Paris where Morgante and Fred Wilson had toured the work of a garden and landscape designer. The pair suggested it to Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp Landscape Architecture, and from there, “it took off,” says Morgante. Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp Landscape Architecture, 1315 Sherman Place, Evanston, 847.905.1281; Morgante-Wilson Architects, 2834 Central St., Evanston, 847.332.1001 –Andrea Mills
McGuire Furniture’s new outdoor collection by Barbara Barry has a pared-down design that is at once cozy and classic. The durable basket-weave resin, in a range of neutrals, has a sleek silhouette that easily fits in with any outdoor decorating scheme. With a small footprint (just 35.5 inches deep and 31 inches tall) in a variety of configurations, it is suitable for smaller yards, terraces and balconies too. And as expected from Barbara Barry, who is known for finding and celebrating the pleasures of everyday life, the waterproof, cushy upholstery offers the comfort you would expect to find indoors. Plateau sectional, $4,595, Baker Knapp & Tubbs, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Ste. 6-187 (to the trade) –Elaine Markoutsas
How better to soak up some sun than reclined in Kris Van Puyvelde’s QT lounger for luxury outdoor furniture-maker Royal Botania? The sweeping lines of the stainless-steel frame barely cast a shadow yet are sturdy enough to stack, while the striking blaze Batyline mesh body is superdurable and simple to clean. Please, take a seat. From $2,025 –Jessie Sardina
What are the biggest planting and garden trends this season?
“Native plants. They are a refreshing change from the over-hybridized plants that we have relied on. Once established, native plants are low-maintenance too (who doesn’t want that?). Wild is definitely in, but the trick is changing our aesthetic expectations because wild plantings can look, well... wild, if they aren’t planned properly. Plants of the year are Andropogon (a hardy grass), and Humulus (a hops vine). In terms of colors, really dark crimsons, browns and burgundy, such as [in] Chocolate Cosmos, are making a comeback.”
—Tara Heibel, garden designer and owner, Sprout Home, 745 N. Damen Ave., 312.226.5950
After the launch of the high-style Swingrest lounger, we were waiting in suspense for what French-Romanian architect and Dedon design collaborator Daniel Pouzet would do next. Enter the SwingMe single-seat and the SwingUs double-seat evolutions of the suspended seaters. Both are also available in standing versions for those who wish for something a bit more grounded. Other customizations include an optional canopy (for the SwingMe) and a choice of suspension methods, allowing users to either rotate around in circles or swing back and forth. In other words, you can add your own spin. $2,150-$2,595, Susan Fredman at Home, 350 W. Erie St., 312.587.8150 –Phebe Wahl
FIRE AND ICE
Form is elegantly met with function in the Indent outdoor coffee table. The geometric lightweight concrete-resin sphere features a rounded indent that makes entertaining a breeze. Fill with decorative river stones, whole fruit or—our favorite suggestion—crushed ice and your favorite boozy bottled beverage for a patio party in a pinch. Cheers! $1,520, Update Interiors, 122 N. Marion St., Oak Park –JS
If there is one country that knows how to deal with the scorching sun in style, it is Australia. Case in point: the new canopy from Mamagreen. Known for its philosophy of sustainability, the company’s new canopy features durable and recyclable Batyline mesh fabric for the shades and a frame that has been melded from aluminum scraps. But it’s the modern lines and portability that make it a standout for us; it can provide shade in any part of your yard or garden and creates an intimate, covered spot for outdoor dinner parties. Price upon request, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Ste. 1519, 312.222.1132 (to the trade) –AM
Conversations might turn deliciously devious in Janus et Cie’s new Dragnet lounge chair. This piece is fashioned from a powder-coated steel frame, with the showstopping red seat and back handwoven from hardy Sunbrella acrylic fabric. For those who like to spin their webs inside, the Dragnet is available in an indoor version as well. $5,753, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Floor 14 –Drew Limsky
What are the latest trends in landscaping?
“Wood flooring and products that simulate the look of wood. We are seeing more wood grains in paving materials, porcelain, stone and barnyard planking that replicate and coordinate with flooring used inside. The indoor-outdoor room that unifies a home’s interior and exterior spaces creates a customized backyard retreat. We are incorporating fire features, and the latest in outdoor appliances and cooking technology, more and more.”
—Michael Schmechtig, president, Schmechtig Landscapes, 20860 W. Indian Creek Road, Mundelein, 847.566.1233
Restoration Hardware has partnered with L.A.-based artist James de Wulf to create a sleek outdoor table-tennis table that’s perfect for summer. Made of cast concrete, the piece has an industrial aesthetic and can withstand most weather conditions with ease. Of course, the table isn’t just for looks—its high-performance slab-top surface and full table-tennis kit make for a fun addition to any backyard. $7,995, Restoration Hardware, 938 W. North Ave. –Jess Charmoli
Part sculpture, part function, the Lampara Piramide gives outdoor lighting a whole new artful category. Designed by José Gandía-Blasco (current creative director of his family’s business, the Spanish design company Gandia Blasco) the lightweight, portable lamps are made of weather-resistant polyethylene with a fluorescent bulb, meaning they withstand hot and cold temperatures. The lamps are innovative, which is not surprising given that José designed an outdoor furniture collection for his own summer home that proceeded to put his generational family company of blanket-makers on the design map (it now counts Patricia Urquiola, Mario Ruiz, Stefan Diez and Nendo, to name a few, as regular designers). An extra-long cord allows the Piramide to be placed randomly in your outdoor area; we like it lining a path to your entertaining or beach zone. The 6-foot-tall slender triangular shapes are best in multiples on a large lot, but they add a cool glow of dimension to any modern outdoor space. $1,250, Orange Skin, 223 W. Erie St., 312.335.1033 –AM
“This Andersonville home has some history to it, and the homeowners had just spent some time refurbishing the interior,” says landscape designer Tony Butterworth of Christy Webber Landscapes. “The exterior was to continue the same aesthetic, so we went with an elegant-informal approach.” And with the original space’s pre-existing granite cobblestones, the team had just the foundation to execute the “casual, old-world patio feel” they were going for. The uneven surface of the recycled stones was grounded by chunky wooden furniture, and greens with pastel flowers and deep purple leaves brightened the space. Butterworth added a simple cascading water feature to make the space even more relaxing. ”A small detail,” he says, “but the sounds and visual were just enough to add an air of tranquility.” And with the odd, cramped space between the garage and neighbor’s fence, the team created a cozy dining area sheltered by a low pergola canopy covered in climbing vines—the perfect addition to this elegant outdoor oasis. Christy Webber Landscapes, 2900 W. Ferdinand St., 773.533.0477 –JS
“The scope of this project was to develop a formal terrace within a large woodland setting,” says Charles Hyams, landscape designer at Scott Byron & Co. Working under the design direction of Scott Byron, the team integrated elements of a traditional formal garden into the wooded space, with a modern twist to blend with the home’s architecture. Additional plantings were kept to a simple palette to fit the modern scheme and to complement the trees and grasses already on the property. Symmetrical patterns of trimmed boxwood and pachysandra were also chosen for their tolerance to deer—a common concern in this area of Riverwoods in Lake County, Ill. Design elements such as the bluestone terrace and sculptural water feature were customized by Byron and his team; the overall effect is one of complete calm and order within the wild woodland setting. Scott Byron & Co., 30088 North Skokie Highway, Lake Bluff, Ill., 847.689.0266 –AM
“People are really pushing the idea of the outdoor room and are including all of the elements you would find in indoor spaces like living rooms and kitchens,” says Adam Miller of Chicago Roof Deck + Garden. Case in point is this rooftop balcony in Lincoln Park that was once unused space holding nothing more than an air-conditioning unit. Miller and his team completely built up the space—a typical project for the firm—installing the flooring (a mix of ipe, a tropical hardwood, decking and stone tile in the kitchen area), walls and iron girding, along with plumbing and a gas connection. The homeowners did their research and came armed with Pinterest boards of ideas, which Miller and his team brought to life. Since the main goal was an entertaining space, the team created areas for lounging, cooking and dining, with a fireplace wall as a divider (there is also a fire-pit coffee table). One key element that makes the space cohesive is the fact that most of the pieces, such as tables and counters, are custom-built to fit the space. Since the building’s architecture includes a lot of exposed brick and steel beams, Miller referenced that in the outdoor materials “to make [the architecture] look like it had always been there.” He laughs that Chicagoans talk about being tough from the weather but they use their outdoor space for three months. “If it is planned well, you can be outside in Chicago for nine months of the year!” Chicago Roof Deck + Garden, 1859 N. Elston Ave., 773.857.2277 –AM
With cues that reference its equestrian roots and marine carriage lamps, the new Lanterne d’Hermès is cleverly designed with four LED light sources sheathed in water-resistant calfskin leather. The panels come together like cake wedges onto a leather base, a unique detail from French designer Yann Kersalé. It has an eight-hour rechargeable battery and looks elegantly luxe indoors or out. $18,700, Hermès, 25 E. Oak St., 312.787.8175 –EM
There is something about the romance and lighthearted spirit of a swing seat that makes it a timeless trend, especially when given a modern spin like this new version from Paola Lenti. Made of light ash wood with Shaker-style spindles and braid-covered steel cables, it can be mounted from a ceiling or beam, making it suitable for (some) balconies. The seat pad comes in a variety of colors (two of them are shown above) so you can customize to suit your outdoor decor. From $7,400, Luminaire, 301 W. Superior St., 312.664.9582 –AM
What is the first, most important thing a Chicagoan should do to get his outdoor space ready?
“Meet with your landscaper! By spring, you are almost too late to get on the schedule of a good landscape contractor. If you don’t have a preliminary drawing in hand, you will likely be looking at July as the installation date. And, as surprising as it may sound, watering is something landscapers can’t stress enough. As soon as the snow melts, soak your soil with water. If snowfall was low, the water levels in your soil won’t be enough for your plants to properly flush out, and if it was high, you need to dilute the saline.”
—Christy Webber, owner, Christy Webber Landscapes, 2200 W. Grand Ave., 312.829.8200
Form meets function, and fashion, with this graceful design—the work of a cooperative of Italian furniture designers directed by Marco Dolcino for Henry Hall Designs. The curvaceous twists, a modern riff on the classic shape of Thonet’s bentwood chairs, are a masterful mix of materials: teak (seat), tubular aluminum and a knit gray acrylic fiber that is recyclable and withstands outdoor weather and sunlight. We love the pairing of gray, white and light wood—and the elegance it brings to an outdoor dining table. Arches dining chair, $1,165, Bradley Terrace, 773.775.6579 –EM
Standing over a hot grill on a summer night is so 2014. With the new Concept Grill from Lynx, the outdoor chef receives a text message when the steak needs to be flipped or is ready to serve. The SmartGrill also comes with a database of more than 200 recipes. $5,999-$9,499, Grand Appliance and TV, 1300 W. North Ave., 773.252.1908 –Rhonda Reinhart