Retail-ol-ogy…Outdoor Gatherings

September 30, 2011 by Marcia Blake

Ah, the great outdoors! I love entertaining al fresco. As plenty of Americans realize the limitless pleasures of outdoor living, they are inviting friends and family over to join in the enjoyment.

Limitless Pleasures of Outdoor Living, Photographer, Ted Axelrod

Depending on what you prefer to do, the location of your home, and naturally your budget, entertaining outdoors can fall into place in an array of distinctive styles. Frequently, it involves cooking and it goes without saying eating. Cooking is in partnership with dining. Manufacturers are producing durable, weather resistant tables, chairs, fabrics and cushions that create an outdoor dining area as luxuriously furnished and relaxed as anything that you’d find indoors.

Eating Al Fresco, Photographer, Ted Axelrod

Arturo Palombo, an award-winning architect (Arturo Palombo Architecture), in New Jersey, is actively involved in the preservation of Architectural treasures. He and Lee Sestrich, host their outdoor gatherings under a picture perfect, wisteria covered pergola, located on a circa 1915 farmhouse next to an 1870’s antique barn.

Party Under The Pergola, Architect Arturo Palombo, Photographer, Ted Axelrod

Entertaining under the pergola, allows Art and Lee to reminisce about the grape arbors and wineries of Latin America and Europe. The comfortable and carefree seating along with a large dining table, a grilling area helps to keep it simple and rustic. Decorative accents are a personal preference like colorful dinnerware and lanterns, bright napkins, woven placemats and comfy throw pillows create a feeling of being somewhere else, far away.

An outdoor living room can incorporate luxuries like fireplaces, fire pits, rugs, lamps and sofas. Just as a replacement for wallpaper or paint, the natural scenery surrounds it, be it an unpretentious garden, a mountain landscape or an ocean scenic vista. Outdoor Gatherings are distinctly casual and help us appreciate the elegance of nature.

Colorful Table Setting, Photographer, Ted Axelrod

When setting a table outside, consider the weather. Eating outside is a lifestyle, an extension of indoor living, but with nature as the wallpaper. Creating an outdoor dining area is an opportunity to design a space around your lifestyle. Dining outdoors has a way of lifting everyone’s spirits.

Since 2008, “staycations” have continued to be a trendy alternative to traditional vacations, allowing consumers to save money on vacation expenses and enjoy their time-off at home. Continuing to stay on trend, in 2009, a Harris Interactive poll (2) showed that 40 percent of respondents who engaged in leisure travel in the previous year said the economy would prompt them to spend less on that activity in the next 12 months. Among these respondents, sixty-two percent said they’d seek less-expensive accommodations, (34 percent of which said they would economize by taking a “staycation”). Most recently, in a June 27, 2011 article (3), Travel Agent Magazine reported that while vacations are on the rise, staycations remain popular with 19 percent of 2011 survey respondents planning to take a staycation.

To enhance the staycation, consumers are sprucing up their own backyards with a number of luxuries and amenities to create their own at-home sanctuary.

Oil businessman David Mitchell joined the trend, foregoing vacations for staycations to take time off from work to enjoy life at home. According to CNN (1), Mitchell spent more than six years and $30,000 to develop his South Windsor, Conn., backyard into a custom-designed personal sanctuary, and in contrast to destination vacations, feels like he gets “the most bang for my buck” by staying home.


Specialty Casual Furniture retailers help people create the perfect place for “Outdoor Gatherings” by showcasing all of the materials and decorative elements that help you to establish the style and mood that you want to create for your outdoor room. Be it Mediterranean, or rustic, or romantic, all you have to do is dream it then create your vision.

I just arrived home from the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market in Chicago. Seeing all of the new fabrics full of color and texture, decorative, functional, casual and durable furniture designs and an array of outdoor accessories with indoor style energizes me for the coming season. It’s as important now more than ever that retailers choose the ingredients that make the difference to design-savvy consumers.

Gather ‘Round and enjoy.

Stay tuned for more retail-ol-ogy…

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3 Responses to Retail-ol-ogy…Outdoor Gatherings

  1. Roberta says:

    So beautiful! I love the colors…it makes me want to have a dinner party!

  2. Marcia Blake says:

    Roberta, when you do have a dinner party use colors to add your own touch to your outdoor setting. Need help just ask!

  3. I love the idea of outdoor living room. We have such space in our summer house and we have some people coming over almost every day. You can make BBQ, enjoy a book or a movie or just chat. We installed a playground for kids right next to it so we can watch them all the time. Having a swing is also good. As for food, I think nothing is better than BBQ with good wine.

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