Style Challenge: An Eclectic Outdoor Living Room

Samantha Reitmayer Sano

Article Posted By: Samantha Reitmayer Sano

of Style Swoon

Logo image for sam reitmayer sano's style challenge

In our Style Challenge series, we challenge some of our favorite bloggers from around the web to surprise us with their ideas for creating a stylish and functional space using a single Home Depot product as a starting point. 

Sam Reitmayer Sano of the blog style/SWOON took up the challenge with the Beverly All Weather Wicker 5-Piece Sectional Patio Set. She turned her previously nondescript backyard deck into a gorgeous outdoor extension of her living room. 

I had a choice of two of The Home Depot’s patio sets for this project, and I was truly torn. I settled on the modern Beverly Wicker Sectional Patio Set, but I’d like to put in a good word for the other set I considered, the more traditional Alise 4 Piece Patio Seating Set. The Alise takes on almost a Southern shabby chic charm with metal siding that looks like white caning. The faux caning is made of metal (and the set is powder coated), making it incredibly sturdy and durable. The table that comes with it is actually super cute with two removable trays, and I would highly recommend this set, too.

I lean more toward modern styling, though, and the Beverly was definitely the right choice for me.

We have a deck just off of our living room and our house wraps three sides of this area. The doors that lead out of our 1950s home are rare sliding glass pocket doors that allow the deck and the living room potentially to function as one. Prior to this little project we had some sad, old plastic chairs out there and rarely used it. Until now.

About the Beverly sectional: it’s super well made, incredibly easy to put together and move by yourself (bonus for all of the DIYers out there). One element I was nervous about was the color. I confess openly that I pretty much don’t do color. I thought the Beverly’s fabric might be too red, and I agonized about how to “deal” with the color. When the outdoor furniture arrived, though, I was thrilled to find that it has a fantastic fabric with a bit of pleasant texture and a lovely rust color. Happy surprise – my immediate thought was “I can work with that”. It also comes with a great table with a frosted glass. I chose not to use it in this space because I wanted a more eclectic, mismatched look.

From the minute my husband and I had it put together we were in love with the outdoor set.

Sectionals are ridiculously comfortable, and this one is no exception. We had perfect weather the first night, and it was pure heaven lying under the stars. “How have I never thought to do this before now?” I asked myself.

At the time, the deck had no overhead cover. We added cedar slats so we can use the deck more throughout the year. They provide some shade from the sun and shelter the deck a bit from falling tree leaves. It was an immediate transformation.

The second imperative was finding great pillows. I found a few outdoor throw pillows from The Home Depot and was thrilled that West Elm introduced outdoor pillows as well. I will tell you the Kilim pillow you see in the photos, and a couple of the other pillows, are not designed for outdoors, but I’m so committed to this new outdoor living room I was willing to get better pillows and work through how to take care of them.

I also scoured our house for inexpensive blankets, and I bought a couple more, along with a sheepskin rug, to throw over the back of the sectional.

I needed a huge rug to pull the space together. There was so much brown in the space, with the doors, the brick and the wood. So I dug into (a great rug resource) and was pleasantly surprised to find a line of outdoor rugs from Thom Filicia (you remember him, the cutie from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). I was pumped. AND bonus! It came in bone and gray – perfect for my color-phobic self to add “color”.

Next, I had been dreaming about putting a tufted ottoman out here and was thinking about having one made in outdoor fabric. Thanks to the never ending shopping skills of my best friend, we found a distressed leather ottoman from Tuesday Morning. I really debated about this because I know it’s not intended for outdoor use, but like I said, I have a plan.

Outside of that, I already had most of the other elements, including the doors, the cool ladder (we just happened to find that on the side of our house) the benches and tables. I did grab the white pot and the Cinch side table from West Elm to layer in with a couple of tree stumps I have had for years. It brought a nice pop of white and polish while working well with the rust fabric because of the terra-cotta invert.

I whipped into a thrift store near our house and stumbled upon some great, super inexpensive pillows and a perfect gray Mexican blanket that I don’t feel the least bit guilty about leaving outside (because of the price). I strongly recommend looking at second-hand stores for your outdoor space–great price = no guilt.

One little easy project that I’m quite proud of are the iron side tables. I had had them for a while, but I added this very thick concrete top from The Home Depot for about $5 each, and voila – new tables!

The last game changer was the water fountain sculpture that is hung on the back brick wall. The wall had been empty for years. I wanted this to feel like an outdoor living room, so after years of racking my brain, this Brutalist sculpture ended up being the perfect piece for the spot.

Here are a few things I would recommend for creating a cozy and magical outdoor space:

Outdoor mirrors are gorgeous. Just about any mirror will work as long as it’s not paper backed.
Candles are a must. You will not only get the magical glow, but you will also smell them – even outside!
Shiny metal lanterns will add a touch of glam, along with your mirror
Stacked wood creates a great texture, and it adds depth to the space.
Greenery is important. I tend to kill anything green, though. So if you’re like me, a few simple but impactful bits of greenery are plenty.

Overall my goal was to create an elegant and cozy space, and I think we’re there. I have literally gone out there for hours every evening that weather has permitted, and I’ve not wanted to go back indoors. I lay there after a hectic day, listen to the leaves rustling in the trees and the music of the wind-chimes. I find incredible peace just being outdoors, but I also feel like I’m in my living room. It’s insanely great, and this Home Depot Style Challenge has brought so much more to my daily routine than I ever imagined.

Samantha Reitmayer Sano is the owner and creative director of the Dallas-based design firm SWOON. Read more about her thoughts on decorating, entertaining, food and more at style/SWOON and on Twitter.

Style Challenge is a series of posts from guest bloggers who aim to bring you fresh inspiration and ideas for your home and garden using a single Home Depot product as a starting point. Sam received the patio set from The Home Depot, but The Home Depot provided no other compensation. The opinions and ideas Sam expressed are her own.