Outdoor living was a wildly popular trend before the words “stay at home” became entrenched in everyone’s vocabulary. In our upside down world, having a peaceful place where you can escape into nature and fresh air has become a blessing—and a priority. After all, it’s a wild world right now, but that doesn’t mean we should skip out on things that make us happy.
Who better to tap for creative “make it happy” advice than lifestyle creator and stylist Sara Raak? She finds joy in everything, and if she doesn’t find joy, she creates it. You can see on her bright and colorful Instagram that family and fun are the cornerstones for everything she does. We caught up with Raak, whose own sun-soaked Washington, DC space has become a color-soaked sanctuary—and date-night hot spot—to get her expert advice.
“Thanks to the warmer weather—finally!—my husband and I can now utilize our outdoor space more,” said Raak. “It gives us an excuse to stay outside a little longer after our kiddos are tucked in bed to talk and catch up on our crazy lives.”
“Yes, our lives are still crazy, just in different ways,” she added. Their new Saturday night date night involves feeding the kids early, throwing dinner on the grill, and then having an intimate dinner for two outside.
“Our new favorite pastime is to have some wine, or beer in my husband’s case, and listen to our favorite music under our pergola, which is wrapped in twinkle lights,” said Raak. “The instant chill mood invites long and relaxing conversations about everything under the sun.”
Before you can plan that perfect outdoor date night, you need to do a little prep work. Here are Raak’s tips for maximizing and maximalist-izing your outdoor space. Fresh air—and fresh style—ahead!
“While the weather is still mild, spring clean your outdoor space, says Raak. “Get the weeding, mulching, planting all done.”
Take the time now to clean off your outdoor furniture that hasn’t been used since last year, so that it is ready to go once those perfect weather days hit. Once your pieces are all gleaming, it’s time to layer in some of your favorite things: plant new flowers in your flower beds and add in bright potted flowers.
And yes many nurseries are offering pickup or delivery for those orders.
Don’t forget to tackle items like replacing bulbs for the outdoor lights, too. Then take a look around and create a wish list of items you’d love to add to make your yard the ultimate summer hangout spot. Then start checking those items off.
Once this heavy lift is done at the start of the season, all you’ll need to do until cooler weather returns is a little refreshing and romancing; whether it’s a backyard, a terrace, or a courtyard—your outdoor space—should stay in good shape all season long.
BRING THE INSIDE OUT
When the weather turns warmer, it seems everything is a little better outside, and that includes your favorite indoor pieces. That’s right, mastering the art of outdoor living means making your outdoor spaces as luxurious and livable as your indoor ones.
“I’ve always loved bringing the indoors outside in creative ways,” said Raak. “I believe emulating the things that make you feel cozy in your home, outdoors, will encourage anyone to want to spend more time outdoors.”
It all comes down to this: the outdoor environment you create should be in line with how you live inside. Of course, your style should be able to move outdoors seamlessly, so why not bring accessories that you already own outside?
“I always like to bring some of my items from inside my home, outside, for the evening,” said Raak. “Bringing out my fun Shibori Indigo poufs, rugs and dinnerware adds fun and interesting layers to the space!”
JUST ADD COLOR
“Outdoor living for me is defined by color. I love to add in colorful outdoor pillows, flowerpots, and an outdoor rug,” said Raak.
When it comes to outdoor living, few rules apply: Be adventurous with your color combinations, don’t worry about chairs matching, just relax and have some fun with it. And when Raak was looking for color and fun, she turned to us, layering in a handful of our outdoor pillows—Thread Bare, Crespi Arch, Shibori Indigo and Shibori Berry—to instantly refresh the look of her space.
“SmithHönig has always been a favorite of mine because of their beautiful use of pattern and color,” said Raak. “These pieces exude luxe and comfort. Adding in these elements helps define the space as cozy and relaxed.”
Textiles like colorful throws and patterned pillows are an easy way to update your outdoor spaces. “Layers, textures and patterns are what makes a home, inside or out,” she added.
Raak likes to pull these tips together when gathering her brood for dinner.
“I like to bring colorful accents to our outdoor dining area such as linens, pillows, dinnerware and flowers picked from our garden,” said Raak. Here are a couple of her other dinner tricks:
- Comfortable chairs will encourage everyone to linger at the table. If you don’t have cushioned outdoor chairs, consider an outdoor pillow.
- Get creative with disposables: For a casual but finished look―and ultra-easy cleanup—use pieces like our paper placemats as the foundation of your meal. This is about fun, not fuss, after all.
- Floating flowers make a pretty centerpiece: Just pour water into a bowl—Raak used a set of our Brass Nesting Bowls—and trim the stems off of each flower. A high-impact, low-effort centerpiece, no floral design skills necessary.
- Don’t forget the lighting! Adding in outdoor string lights and lots of candles give off that instant glowing and luxe vibe.
- Sure, a tassel is a nice napkin ring, but Raak used our Cowrie Shell Tassel, with its flock of handmade tassels, to dress up her spread.
“Making our outdoor space usable has enabled our whole family to voluntarily spend more time outdoors,” said Raak. “Taking time to enjoy our backyard, the blooming flowers and relaxing while watching the boys bounce on the trampoline is such a gift.”
Your outdoor space can be just as inviting, comfortable, and stylish as your home, but it also offers fresh air, nature and an escape from the familiar inside space. When you make it just as marvelous, it’s truly the best of both worlds.
Turn your outdoor space into a color-soaked sanctuary, or better yet, a date-night hot spot, with SmithHönig outdoor decor.