Exterior Motives

The easiest way to add square footage to your house without hammer meeting nails? Take it outside.

Today homeowners have myriad choices when it comes to creating outdoor living spaces, especially in the Mid-South, where our generally mild weather allows for extended outdoor entertaining months.

But where to begin? Well, starting from the bottom up, check out the indoor/outdoor rugs from Capel. Barbara Boatner of Capel Rugs in Cordova (the only Tennessee retailer) says the newest lines are made from 100 percent olefin, a man-made fiber specially created to be UV resistant and waterproof. The Capel Anywhere line features more than 30 colors and patterns, from a simple sisal look to florals and French country. Prices range from $70 to $500, according to size. "I've sold these rugs for years and never have had one customer complain about them," insists Boatner, who adds that all rugs come with a one-year guarantee.

Next, it's time to furnish the area. According to Tina Caccamisi of Watson's, the most important thing to look for when selecting outdoor furniture is its construction. "You want to make sure that there are no screws holding outdoor furniture together, as they will eventually rust. Quality pieces, by manufacturers such as Lane Venture and Tropitone, are welded, so the furniture is in one piece."

The store's most popular furniture is the Lane Venture synthetic wicker, explains Caccamisi. "That line is 100 percent virgin vinyl, which means it's the same color throughout. If you nick it or it gets scratched, there's no bleed through. The wicker itself is wrapped around a cast aluminum frame, which is what most outdoor furniture is just by itself. Combine the two and you've got an extremely durable piece of furniture."

Another outdoor idea is purchasing pieces that can double as storage, such as cedar benches, for not only the cushions and pillows, but for Memphis outdoor essentials like citronella candles and bug repellent.

Now for the fun part -- the color scheme and fabrics. Make sure the cushions and fabrics you choose are solution-dyed acrylics, like the ones offered by the Sunbrella line. A quality outdoor fabric will be UV-treated and water resistant, though averaging $50 a yard, quality doesn't come cheap. "What you have to remember is that it's a one-time purchase," advises Caccamisi. "If you skimp on the cheaper stuff, you'll just be replacing it every few seasons."

For more info on outdoor furniture and decor, check out these sites:

sunbrella.com, capelstore.com, watsons.com, and homecrest.com

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