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March 19, 2014

Taking the inside out

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

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Taking the inside out
Outdoor furniture experts say that consumers don’t need to get stuck on a specific style, tone or theme to make their outdoor living spaces stand out. Lighting can also make or break outdoor spaces.

It doesn’t take long for consumers to discover that there is an abundance of outdoor furniture available to them to make their porch, deck or patio pop.

But finding out what’s new on the market, and what items and accessories could make outdoor spaces more enjoyable, is really key, experts say.

Diane Christopher, general manager of Lake Orion-based Pine Tree Furniture & Lighting, said that when it comes to looking at outdoor furniture, accent lighting is where it’s at.

“That allows us to bring the inside of a home to the outside with furnishings,” Christopher said.

She added that while color schemes and furniture designs could bring the outdoor furniture together, lighting is the “jewel” of the home.

“It pretty much sets the tone for your style and design, and you want to carry that to your backyard outdoor living space,” she said.

There are a number of ways to spruce up one’s outdoor living space, and sturdy yet fashionable furniture is the way to go, Pine Tree Furniture & Lighting General Manager Dennis Latshaw said.

“The trend has gone to more of the cast aluminum; (that is) what we’ve sold the last few years,” Latshaw said.

From recent sales, it also seems that customers are having a gas with gas fire pits.

“They are on the rise, considerably,” he said. “Whether it is on decks or patios — cooking outside, sitting outside, reading outside — here in Michigan, we try to get out as much as we can, and the creation of these fire pits has actually lengthened the quality of time you can be outside, because you can still get heat.”

He said it seems that more people are looking to expand their living spaces outside that mimic their indoor spaces. With granite countertops, cabinets, furniture, heaters and more, creating an outdoor living space is easy when looking for items that make the outdoors homey.

Outside furniture makes use of long-lasting materials, such as all-weather wicker, and durable fabrics that last through the seasons and look fashionable.

“Anything can go outside today: sofas, loveseats, reclining chairs, a sectional. Size does not matter at all. It is however you want to arrange it,” he said.

MaryAnne Dery, Rochester-based Casual Concepts owner, head designer and buyer, said the hot items this year are sustainable and recycled furniture that have spectacular designs.

She added that woven frames for outdoor use, with the look and feel of real wicker, are also in.

“This material was developed decades ago for outdoor use and is available in dozens of finish combinations,” Dery said.

Latshaw said consumers need to find out what is worth the hassle before taking the plunge in purchasing outdoor furniture. 

“People want to enjoy the outdoors,” he said. “You really need to do your homework on the different qualities that are out there and what you are purchasing.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.