Creating an Outdoor Oasis

Written by Jennifer Kastner Lackey for Wrightsville Beach Magazine

Part of the beauty of living on the Azalea Coast is enjoying an extended outdoor living season. Why not make the most of it with a uniquely appointed outdoor space?

Gently used, vintage, found, created or curated — outdoor furniture doesn’t have to be assembled from a box.

Though fall and winter months are the best times to forage for vintage treasures at local resale shops, when they aren’t heavily sought after, it is still possible to pick up a statement glider or patio table this spring. Gently used or vintage items are typically less expensive than new merchandise, and may be better quality. Furnishings that survived a half-century of use have stood the test of time.

Powder coating a slightly rusted antique metal patio set can restore the finish to its original glory and seal it for years to come. A fresh coat of paint or new cushions can transform an unloved outdoor chair into a lounge-worthy seat. Don’t give up on an interesting or loved item just because it needs a little work. The furniture that has received a bit of effort and elbow grease often becomes a favorite piece.

Supporting local carpenters sustains the local economy, and the reward is a bespoke furniture item. Collaborating with a local artisan can be surprisingly easy and rewarding, providing a rare opportunity to design and own a custom furniture piece.

Tree stumps can be sealed to make beautiful tables, table bases and stools. Utilizing found objects and items from nature guarantees a unique piece that radiates a sense of place.

Imported outdoor furniture offers an eclectic look and often more variety in furniture selections. Teak or cypress are durable and long lasting, and develop a nice patina over time. An Indonesian day bed outfitted with a large waterproof cushion creates a welcoming retreat on a covered porch. Many imported outdoor furniture items are also made of solid but lightweight woods that are easy to move around as the weather demands. Another benefit of these pieces is they are good-looking enough to be transitioned indoors, so if living circumstances change or cooler weather requires the furniture be moved inside, they can blend effortlessly with other furnishings. Handcrafted, imported wooden furnishings usually vary from piece to piece, so keep in mind no two are exactly alike and appreciate the beauty of handcrafted furniture.

Colorfully painted rattan or bamboo furniture is another bright idea for outdoor spaces this season. Rattan pieces are easy to find at local resale shops or yard sales and often have funky details and interesting shapes. Choose a fun paint color and brightly patterned weather-resistant cushions for a fresh look. Rattan furniture can often be found in sets or pairs so outfitting a large deck with plenty of seating for summer visitors can easily be accomplished.

Outdoor spaces are a great place to take risks with color, pattern and style. Embrace the natural palette in our coastal surroundings and play off of those colors and textures with design choices. Think outside of the box with furniture purchases and use surrounding decor to express the carefree joy of the summer season.

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