Our homes are an expression of ourselves, from favorite colors, artwork, and photos to collections of souvenirs and special memories. But does that reflection of yourself extend beyond your interiors? Gone are the days of bland, bare lawns adorned with generic plastic chairs and rickety picnic tables. Interior designer Melissa Oswalt, of Ikards Furniture, shows us how to take an outdoor space from dull to delightful.
Written by Isabel A. Rodriguez
Photography courtesy of O.W. lee
Meet our Expert
Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences from New Mexico State University, where she majored in clothing, textiles, and fashion Merchandising with minors in marketing and management. After spending several years in Scottsdale and Beverly Hills, where she worked designing nurseries, Melissa returned to Las Cruces and has worked at Ikards for two years. “The store is family owned and operated and has been for more than 75 years. They are solid, as far as customer service goes; that’s why they’ve been in business so long,” she notes.
Outdoor Designing 101
Let the Space Inspire You
“Most of our customers are getting their inspiration from the outdoor space itself,” Melissa explains. “They buy these houses that have outdoor patios and they need to fill them. It’s not about finding that exact piece that they might have seen on TV, it’s more about finding furniture for their individual spaces.”
Take the Indoors Out
Many of the spaces Melissa works on are true extensions of the home itself, and even though they’re outdoors, they’re covered or somewhat enclosed. “It’s actually a living space,” she explains. “They have TVs out there, and they’re sitting on actual sofas versus just chairs outside. There are bars, built-in fireplaces, fountains—it’s more like being inside than out in some ways.”
Splurge on Quality
To get the most bang for your buck, Melissa recommends selecting pieces from O.W. Lee. This furniture line—available through Ikards—specializes in outdoor collections, including fire pits. “O.W. Lee is a leader in high-end patio home furnishings,” Melissa says, adding that an important feature to look for when selecting pieces for the outdoors, particularly in this area, is durability. “That brand is a great way to go if you want to get more for your dollar. Just know that if you can spend a little bit more, it’s going to last longer. It just depends how far you want your money to go.”
Pick a Focal Point
Don’t have the time, money, or energy to transform your yard into the outdoor space of your dreams? Start out slow and work your way out. Know what the focal point of your space will be, and then build around that. If your parties tend to congregate in the kitchen, for example, use that to your advantage. “If you want to entertain, and you want to cook and barbeque outside, I’d start with just a dining table and chairs,” Melissa advises. Or, if you have a fire pit that’s the crowd favorite, select furnishings that build around that. Just be aware that “sofas, big lounges, and other pieces tend to be more expensive,” she adds.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Some residents have less room to work with, but that doesn’t mean they should settle for a bland outdoor living area. “We’ve got little swivel chairs and rocker/loungers, which would work with a small table, if you’ve got limited space.”
Keep Maintenance to a Minimum
Washable fabrics are super popular right now. They not only keep upkeep simple, they can also extend the life of your furniture. Melissa points to Sunbrella fabrics, which are used in O.W. Lee furniture pieces. These washable indoor/outdoor fabrics won’t easily fade, and they require almost no maintenance. “They can all be hosed down with water,” Melissa notes. “It’s really amazing. They kind of maintain themselves.”
Show Your True Colors
Think of your outdoor space as a blank canvas; it’s up to you, as the homeowner, to decide what emotions you hope to inspire. On her website, Melissa offers a guide to help clients choose the right colors for their needs.
Brown = Bold | Purple = Relaxed
Red = Passionate | Yellow = Refreshed
Orange = Excited | Green = Active
Pink = Cheerful | Blue = Calm
Accessories, such as throw pillows, are one of the easiest ways to give your outdoor living space a personal touch. There might be dozens of other homes that have the same furniture, so don’t be afraid to get creative and really make it your own in subtle ways.
Ikards Furniture • 101 East Lohman • 575-526-6691
Melissa Oswalt Interiors • melissaoswaltinterios.com