Our favorite outdoor spaces

We just got back from an action-packed week in France buying up goodies galore for our next container (arriving in August, we hope).  In between waking up at the crack of dawn, hitting the fairs by 8 a.m., driving to the next destination and checking in and out of four hotels, we had a couple hours to enjoy the gorgeous summer weather in Provence and Paris.  The skies were blue, the sun rose at 4:30 a.m. and set at 10:30 p.m.  The light was just magical.

A perfect pool in the South of France. Cote du Sud.

What is it about outdoor spaces that makes them irresistible? Here in Atlanta, we’re lucky to have a climate that is wonderfully conducive to outdoor living – our winters are mostly mild enough that an outdoor fireplace will keep you toasty; our springs and falls are simply spectacular and our summers, although hot and humid, are manageable with a ceiling fan or two  (- and a blast of icy air-conditioning when you can’t take it any longer.)

And now that those long summer days and balmy evenings have arrived, we’re spending as much time outside as possible- whether we’re in France or right here at home in the ATL.

There’s nothing better than a meal enjoyed outside. This is Ann’s spectacular terrace in Provence.

What makes a great outdoor living space?  We love porches, verandas, terraces and balconies so we’ve come up with a list of outdoor must-haves.  For example, if it’s covered with a roof of some sort, you’re already halfway there.  If you have a fireplace, count that as a double bonus.  The good news is that even the most basic outdoor space can be turned into your fresh air destination.

Try these tips on for size – and enjoy the inspiration!

treat your outdoor space like an interior room

That means using elements you’d find inside, like comfortable furniture, pretty pillows, accessories, rugs and lighting.


Comfy, texture-y chairs, a wow coffee table and a look-at-me chandelier set the stage for this lovely outdoor room designed by Meridy King. From Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles and photographed by Erica George Dines.



Beth Webb uses soft pillows and a wooden starburst mirror to give this beachy space its come-hither appeal.  (image from Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles and Erica George Dines.


For the recent Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens, we used a zebra hide, a funky mid-century floor lamp and some gorgeous original art to make this outdoor veranda feel like a chic living room.


Teri Duffy works her magic on this Lake Burton home – upholstered seating, modern floor lamps, pillows and throws all shout:  “outdoor living room with a view.” Photography by Erica George Dines.


James Wheeler’s tres chic porch.  We love the indoor elements that he’s brought outside: a hide rug, clean-lined upholstery and good-looking accessories. Erica George Dines.

pay attention to proportion

You want your porch or veranda to be large enough to house a decent seating or dining furniture plan that draws your guests and the conversation together.

This stunning pool house has plenty of room for a seating area – and even a spot for daybed and a post-swim nap.  Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles/Erica George Dines.

And even if you don’t have extra square footage for your space, remember that small can be just as fabulous:

Melanie Turner created this little oasis high above the city.  Photography by Emily Followill.


Michel Boyd came up with this pretty aerie proving that size doesn’t matter.  (David Christensen)


I could spent all day here. Design by Jacque Lanham. Photography by Emily Followill.

figure out how you want to use the porch.

We like ours to be an outdoor living room and dining room so proximity to the kitchen is helpful when we’re entertaining. You can blend the inside and outside in lots of ways, including windows that open up to connect indoors and outdoors.  And adding a television is a great way to make sure your outdoor space is going to get plenty of use – we like covering our flatscreen TVs with doors when possible so it’s hidden when we’re not using it.

Black iron windows connect the porch and the kitchen for easy entertaining. (Erica George Dines)


James Wheeler’s sophisticated dining space. (photo by Erica George Dines)


Easy access to the kitchen makes this space even more inviting. Obviously, the four-legged guest is happy.  (photo: Emily Followill)


think about exposure

If your space faces west, you may be blasted by afternoon heat and sun so keep your cooling options open with linen panels to block the sun and plenty of outlets for floor fans.  Ceiling fans to keep the air circulating and the bugs away.

Kristen Kong created this bright, happy space that effortlessly blends inside and out (but keeps the sun out when needed!) Photography by Mali Azima.

And chilly temps don’t have to drive you inside. Outdoor fireplaces are a big selling point here in Atlanta but portable heaters are easy to use and won’t break the bank. You can also install electric heating grids that visually disappear and turn on and off with the flick of a switch.

This country chic porch pretty much has it all – plus a perch up in the North Carolina mountains. (Emily Followill)

And don’t forget about the soothing sound of water – a pretty fountain or nearby water feature (like the spectacular pool featured below) is another plus. (Peter Frank Edwards/Redux)

sweet retreat

set the mood

Once you’ve got the basics taken care of, think about adding the special little touches – candlelight, cozy throws and music go a long way to create a charming ambiance.  We like the lights on dimmers and plenty of hurricane lanterns dotted about.  Don’t forget to plant a pot or two.

We love the simplicity of this little garden. (Erica George Dines)


And don’t forget the flower power. (Erica George Dines)

And voila!  Now pour yourself a glass of something and enjoy your own outdoor destination space. Happy summer…

Ta ta.

Suzanne Kasler placed these beauties on a nice green lawn. We’re swooning.

P.S:  it may be summertime, but we’re already thinking ahead to fall. We’ll be headed to Paris for our fall buying trip and we’re delighted to announce that Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita blog is coming with us! We still have a couple spots left on the trip so come join us…

Meet Anne + Meg

What happens when two committed Francophiles, art lovers and design junkies get together over a bottle of red wine? A fine art gallery with a little je ne sais quoi is born, followed a few years later by its home furnishings and décor sibling.

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What happens when two committed Francophiles, art lovers and design junkies get together over a bottle of red wine? A fine art gallery with a little je ne sais quoi is born, followed a few years later by its home furnishings and décor sibling.

  • I wanted to ask about the painting in the photo from the Southeastern Design House—-the large one to the left of the circular mirror. Is it available? Can you tell us about the artist? I enjoy your blog. Thank you!

  • I’d love to see ways you’ve covered tv’s outside and inside. Thanks.

  • My favorite outdoor space is Ann’s beautiful terrace in Provence!

    Vera Fogle
  • All gorgeous spaces, but my favorite is the HHH chic veranda for the Showhouse.
    xo, cindy

    cindy stamp
  • My son installed clear roller shades that can be dropped down during the pollen season or during a rain storm. The see- through shades allow you to see nature but protect the interior. Another benefit is that they keep in warmth allowing for a longer season to enjoy your outdoor space.

    Patricia Johnston - Nashville

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