Outdoor State of Mind

In the weeks that turned into months of lock-down mode, nature reminds us of life’s simple pleasures: flowers blooming, gentle breezes, birds chirping and sometimes a blue sky as far as the eye can see. Cheers to the architects, craftsman and designers who capture the restoring indoor/outdoor connections we crave, to the growing number of furnishings and amenities that enrich our life outdoors.

Chances are this extended time at home has inspired you to freshen up your outdoor space for a change in scenery. Or maybe it leaves you daydreaming about future projects. Either way, we share ideas and inspiration that channel a variety of comfort zones, from resort-like getaways — to quiet fireside chats.

Expand your Design Horizon

Photo: Mike Van Tassell Design NJ June-July, 2020/Architect: Robert W. Adler & Associates/Builder: Socha Builders/Design: James Gilday-Moss Gilday Group LLC/Photo Stylist: Olga Naiman.

In daylight or dusk (as shown), this outdoor living area in Oakhurst, NJ is an entertainer’s paradise with a fully functioning kitchen that operates independently from the one indoors. Friends and family can warm up by the fireplace or join in the cooking experience when seated at the covered bar or dining area. Kalamazoo kitchen cabinetry and grill available at, Designer Appliances in Bedminster, NJ (www.designerappliances.com), Eastern Outdoor Furnishings in Totowa (www.eofus.com) or www.KalamazooGourmet.com.

Feel the Sand Between Your Toes

Constructed of durable marine grade polymer, Wexler Sling Chat Chairs from Telescope Casual will not crack, rot or absorb fresh or salt water. DeVries Inc. in North Brunswick, NJ (www.njpatiofurniture.com), Ski Barn NJ locations (www.skibarn.com), Railside Outdoor & Patio Furniture in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (www.railsidefurniture.com) or www.TelescopeCasual.com.

Live in Color

Photo: Patricia Burke, Design NJ August-September, 2019/Design: Suzette Donleavy, Well-Designed Interiors/Builder: Martelli Signature Homes/Landscape Design-Build: Celtic Concepts

This Little Silver, NJ property surrounded by nature and happy hues “is not just a home, it’s my sanctuary,” homeowner Kristina Johnson says. Almost every morning when the weather allows, “I have my cup of tea and take in the beauty of the landscape.” A pergola defines the living area without walls. (Inset) Johnson’s pup Lilly honors her namesake: iconic fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer, known for her bright colorful prints and monogrammed accents.

Bright and cheerful indoor/outdoor rugs from Dash & Albert say welcome home in style. www.annieselkie.com

Foster Indoor/Outdoor Connections

Lauren Hagerstrom, Design NJ June-July 2017/Architect: Asher Associates Architects/Outdoor Furniture: CWI Design

In Seven Mile Island, NJ, the homeowners’ “love the home’s flow for indoor/outdoor living and entertaining…and the ability to open the doors to have a great gathering,” says project manager Laura Glantz. Cable rails on the upper decks give the traditional façade a more modern edge and open the home to ocean and dune views.

Let the River Run Through It

Photo: Stephen Govel, Design NJ June-July 2020/Architect: Tokarski Millemann Architects LLC/Builder: Legacy Custom Home Builders

Two cantilevered decks with glass railings — combined with high elevation — ensure amazing, uninterrupted views where the Metedeconk River meets the Barnegat Bay in Brick, NJ. Low-slung furniture and a sleek gas fire feature echo the lines of the modern house.

Hang On — In Style

Left: Yellow Leaf’s Signature Hammock is handwoven with weathersafe yarn that is ultra-soft and deeply comfortable. www.yellowleafhammocks.com Right: Breezy island living comes to mind on Tidelli’s Kauai Swing constructed with the company’s signature nautical rope. www.Tidelli.com

Create a Conversation Hub — or Two

Open and enclosed seating areas, a built-in grill station with refrigeration and mounted ceiling heaters help extend outdoor entertaining well into sweater weather. Built-in grill and cabinetry, www.brownjordanoutdoorkitchens.com.

Belly Up To The Bar

Counter stools from Tommy Bahama’s South Beach Collection for Lexington feature all-weather sling material that coordinates handsomely with the dark graphite aluminum base. The seat angle and short back provides ideal comfort with the front kick bar for resting your feet. www.TommyBahamaOutdoorLiving.com

Come on Baby, Light Your Fire!

Ventless fireplaces from Hearth Cabinet can be installed virtually anywhere including this urban oasis. www.hearthcabinet.com

Photo: Dan D’Agostino, Design NJ October-November 2018/Architect: Plan Architecture LLC/Builder: ESC Homes

Architect Dan D’Agostino designed this outdoor living room for year-round use at his family’s home in the Township of Washington, NJ. “Unlike an interior fireplace and mantel, the scale of an outdoor fireplace must be significant,” he explains. This one is crafted of split-face stepped limestone. A 65-inch outdoor television suits the fireplace’s grand proportions.

Throw Yourself — Or Someone Special — A Garden Party

Until we can all return to our favorite restaurants, consider shaking up your routine by creating an escape-to-the-weekend dining experience in your own backyard. Break out the white tablecloth, china and rosé. In the words of artist Carmen Gusmão about making the most out of everyday living, “The special occasion is today; the special person is you.” Botanic Garden Collection, www.Portmeirion.com

Seek Nature’s Solace

Dreaming of a tucked-away garden escape or quiet reading nook? Walpole’s impressive lattice-topped arbor is offered with or without a bench and comes prefinished in white or verde green (as shown). Bain’s Outdoor Living in Rumson, NJ (www.binsideout.com), Kale’s Nursery& Landscape Service, Inc. in Princeton, NJ (www.kalesnursery.com), or Walpole Outdoors in Morris Plains, NJ (www.walpoleoutdoors.com).

Meg Fox & grandpup Archie | Fire table and furniture, Railside Outdoor & Patio Furniture in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

Writer’s Note: From my small outdoor comfort zone in Red Bank, NJ, wishing our readers, members of the design community–and all those you love–good health, peace of mind, and all the comforts that home brings.