Find Inner Peace in Your Outdoor Personal Space 5

Sensible solutions with a sense of style.

When summer comes and the pace of life runs just a little slower, we all need a go-to retreat to unwind and be with our thoughts. For Franklin business owner and interior designer Jennifer Smith, that place is the front porch of her South Carolina-style home. She’s welcoming the warmest season of the year, and she’s shared a few tips on how to make the most of your outdoor spaces for summer months, too.

Before you rush out to buy new patio furniture or a wildly colorful assortment of outdoor cushions, Smith says the first step is to evaluate the space and how you plan to use it. Do you need a dining table or surface? How about a comfortable spot to land for summer pleasure reading?

Look at what factors in nature have an impact on the space. Does the sun come pouring in during the afternoon? Consider options such as curtains or solar shades to make the space comfortable and functional during the heat of the day.

Does the space have a perfect view of the sunset every evening? Be sure to consider that as you position furniture in your space.

Do you cook outside often? Designate an area of the space for a grill or fire pit.

Once you’ve done what you need to make the space serviceable, it’s time to get creative and bring in details for visual appeal. Make the space inviting by adding pillows made with specialty fabric and quick-drying foam designed for outdoor weather, or find a unique outdoor bar cart to use for coffee and cocktails. Add a table runner and simple centerpiece to an outdoor dining table, or dress up existing window treatments with a fun fabric layer.

When it comes to outdoor décor, specially designed and engineered fabric is growing in popularity, so let your imagination run wild. Smith says, “Anything you could add as décor indoors, you can replicate especially for the outside,” so think of what makes your home feel welcoming on the inside, and use that idea as a starting point for outdoor elements.

Bringing summer spirit to your outdoor spaces doesn’t have to break the bank, either. If you need a refresh, but don’t want to splurge on all new pieces, use what you already have. Smith suggests recovering outdoor cushions in a new fabric, or adding extra throw pillows and small decorative items around the space. When you don’t have the time or funding to do a full porch or patio makeover, don’t underestimate the impact that a few small changes here and there will have on the appeal of the space.

In her own outdoor spaces, Smith used plenty of creativity and color to make them useful and beautiful extensions of her interior living space. She converted one to a “sleeping porch” with plenty of cushions and pillows that make it a perfect place to relax with friends or sneak-in a nap during a summer thunderstorm. On her large front porch, Smith converted two wooden benches to swinging wooden sofas—the perfect place to enjoy warm conversation and a cool summer drink. “I have three sons, so I claimed the front porch as my space,” she says, “I wanted to have a little pink somewhere!”

Smith, a Plano, Texas native, has a degree in fashion design and an innovative eye that she’s put to use both in her own home and for many clients in the Nashville area. After moving to middle Tennessee in 1995, Smith married her husband, Randy, and immediately began furnishing their first home with window treatments and decorative elements she made herself.

When friends and guests took notice of her beautiful décor, she soon found herself with enough orders and requests that she was able to leave the corporate world and form her business, JLS Designs, in 2002. While she has extensive knowledge and experience in interior design and color consulting, her focus is on window treatments, and she knows the windows in a room can make a difference in the feel and aesthetic. “No one thinks about the windows being personal, but I make it personal,” she says.

And with summer here, it’s the ideal time to take your outdoor space personally as well.