Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Indoor style is making the outdoors greater

There are few wallflowers among this year's most fashion-forward furnishings for "outdoor rooms."

The hottest look in alfresco seating is contemporary, and these pieces - often with sculptural profiles - are practically upstaging lush landscaping and fancy barbecues. They are edgy but not at the expense of comfort. They are bold but not overpowering. Understated yet sometimes daring, they complement many architectural styles.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, consumers annually spend more than $40 billion upgrading outdoor living accessories and garden amenities. A fully equipped outdoor room might include furniture, lighting, area rugs and accessories such as throws, weatherproof art, televisions and sound systems. Rounding out amenities: kitchen appliances, bars, fireplaces and pavilions.

Following an indoors trend toward less fussy, more streamlined looks, modern style is also blossoming outdoors. That translates into sleek, sexy lines, sweeping curves and sculptural shapes.

Outdoor design styles are also taking inspiration from the 1940s, '50s and '60s, as well as from Italian Riviera, Japanese and Hawaiian influences.

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