Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Create a Tropical Oasis and Keep Your Cool!

Hard Keeping Your Cool?
The days (and nights) of summer are long and hot. A tropical oasis offers shade and protection from sun and rain while providing additional living space for entertaining, dining alfresco, or simple relaxation. The primary aim for a design is comfort and informality. In some locations around the country, these spaces will be able to be used year round.

Size doesn’t matter – the setting can be as simple as an umbrella placed in the center of a table (or a model that cantilevers over the table. Create a colorful tropical setting with bright straw placemats, patterned napkins, colored plastic glasses, bouquets of fragrant flowers, and hurricane lamps. Additional lighting, hung from the interior frame of the umbrella (a great use for x-mas lights), illuminates the entire space. Be on the lookout for battery-powered lighting!

This gazebo is wonderful for entertaining
protected by the heat of the sun.
A deck, terrace, front porch, pergola, poolside canopy, an awning extension, anything that offers protection, provide the basics for a great outdoor room. Decorate your space as you would any room. Obviously walls will not be a consideration. To define the area, there’s a great selection of outdoor rugs that add comfort as well as style. In addition to placing a rug on a hard surface, it can be set on sand, grass, or soil - an extremely beneficial element for those guests who ultimately wear spike heels to an outdoor summer party.

Larger areas can handle larger lighting fixtures. Use lights at various heights: lanterns of different sizes grouped on the floor, on table tops, or from trees; string lights, oil-burning torches; and for a bit of elegant whimsy, find an old brass or crystal chandeliers that burn candles.

This space is large and has seating
and dining areas
Select furniture that is in scale with the size of the space. Some options are wood, weather-resistant wicker, wrought iron, aluminum, and plastic. Bench swings for a front porch bring back an atmosphere of bygone eras, and the simplicity of a hammock for two is very inviting. I particularly like Adirondack chairs (traditional and updated designs) because the arms are wide enough to hold a snack and drink; though I’ve seen contemporary seating with the same features. Soften the mood with water-resistant cushions and lots of decorative pillows. Select coffee and side tables as needed, and perhaps a bar and barstools. Ottomans are versatile for seating and serving, and are easily 
                                                     moved around. If you want transparency, opt for acrylic, avoid glass.

Add romance with porcelain garden seats and small sculptures strategically placed. Define the space with blooming plants potted in large urns, lattice screens, or trellises covered with sweet smelling vines. Music, of course, adds to the ambience. And if a grill is available, or better yet, if there’s access to a complete outdoor kitchen, you have a truly self-contained and functional space!

Relax, stay cool, and enjoy nature!
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