Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time to spring outdoors and fix them up

From page HS7 | April 25, 2014 |

Ahh, Spring. Finally.

After The Winter That Wouldn’t Quit, we’ve come to that welcome slice of  time between shiver and swelter, those few months when it’s warm enough to work in the yard but not so hot you spout sweat like a rain bird.

Excuses thaw. You can’t say it’s too cold or  too hot, Goldilocks, because the time is just right for all those outdoor spring projects you’ve been thinking about doing while you hibernated under your blanket on the sofa.

I saw you.

Motivating us along with the beckoning weather is the vision of summer, which undulates on the horizon like a mirage, teasing us with visions of long lazy days and outdoor soirées, and that means one thing:

We all had better get off our backsides and get busy fixing up our own great outdoors!

“We’ve come off a pretty cold winter,” said Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for The Home Depot. “People are a little stir crazy.”

“Stir crazy? They are busting out like beauty queens in bathing suits,” I said to Fishburne who was calling me from Italy, where she was researching trends and making me think, and there’s another job I wish I had.

In spring, homeowners spend more money than during any other time of year on outdoor spaces, and that appears to be especially true this year, said Fishburne.

Most start by poking their sleepy heads out of their burrows like prairie dogs and surveying the damage that winter has wrought: the blown sprinklers, the decomposed decking, the faded lawns.

Then they and their pent-up energy hustle down to their local home improvement stores and contribute to the fact that the outdoor living and landscape sector has grown into a $60 billion a year industry, surpassing even what North Americans spend on pets ($53 billion), according to the Garden Media Group.

The second leading outdoor trend this year, after the home garden trend, which I wrote about last week, is the trend to furnish outdoor living spaces, she said.

Here’s what homeowners and renters alike are doing to glam up their outdoor living spaces this spring:

Furnishing the great outdoors. More than two-thirds of all patio furniture is sold between March and July, and this season the trend is strong. This year the nation’s outdoor furniture and appliance industry is expected to grow 4 percent, and to continue at that pace through 2017, rebounding from the declines of the recession, said Fishburne.

Extending the season. Once consumers have furnished their outdoor rooms, they look for ways to extend the hours and days they can enjoy them. Trending up are purchases of patio heaters and fire pits. I, personally, was excited to discover NeverWet fabric spray by Rust-oleum, which repels water and keeps outdoor fabrics dry. Spray it on your seat cushions and you can sit on them after a spring shower without looking like, well, you know.

Making it theirs. Customization is huge, said Fishburne. “Consumers are busting out of their décor comfort zones and creating their own color palettes. She credits social media such as Pinterest with opening home decorators’ eyes to what’s possible and what’s passé. In the latter category are matching patio sets and matching fabrics. “Customers are mixing it up.” They’re putting prints in peacock blue and java brown with chili-pepper red.

Color is back. Like hemlines, color in the marketplace echoes consumer confidence. Grays, tans and neutrals trend up when the economy is down. But as the economy gets stronger, so do colors. “Today, consumers are using very saturated colors and having fun with them,” said Fishburne,  “which shows they are feeling good about investing in their homes again.”

Clearing the decks.  Though more a yearly ritual than a trend, spring is when homeowners give their decks a makeover. Once the pollen has stopped falling, give decks a good pressure wash. Change out damaged boards, hammer in loose nails, and sand splintering hand rails.  Then apply a coat of sealant or stain. Ask at your home improvement store for the best type for your wood and climate. Then kick back with a tall ice tea.

Join me next week as home improvement experts talk about what’s hot in grills.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through





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