Favorite Products and Personal Style: Q&A with the Outdoor Living Bloggers

March 27, 2012 Interview, Patio Design

Do you ever wonder what outdoor decoration experts buy for their own homes?  So do we!  We asked the bloggers at Outdoor Living Blog to answer a few questions about their favorite products and personal style so that we could share their tips with you.  Read their answers below to learn about their recommendations for cleaning patio furniture, eco-friendly products, and DIY patio decorations.

Texas Custom Patios (TCP): What are your favorite new patio products this year?

Outdoor Living Blog (OLB): I love the growing availability of outdoor kitchen products. The number of grilling options alone has increased a lot over the past few years.  There are charcoal, electric, and gas grills to fit almost any budget now –  and lots of appliances.  Another fantastic new patio trend is the patio day bed. They are so comfy, and a great, relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors.

TCP: Your blog has a lot of tips for being more eco-friendly.  If someone wants to start making their yard more eco-friendly, what’s the first thing they should do?

OLB: Go solar! I think this is by far the easiest step to becoming more eco-friendly. There are so many great solar products now; there are solar fountains, solar lighting and even solar wind chimes. The best part is that these eco-friendly products will save you money on your electricity bills!

Solar fountain from Outdoor Living

TCP: It’s spring cleaning time.  Do you have any tips for keeping patio furniture clean?

OLB: The great thing about patio furniture is that most of it can be easily cleaned with a wet rag and a little soap. To keep your furniture protected from the harshest elements, patio furniture covers are a great option. To keep your cushions and pillows looking like new, be sure to put them away when they are not in use. Outdoor storage benches or chests are a great place to hide and protect them.

TCP: What’s the most useful item you’ve ever bought for your patio/backyard?

OLB: The best investment I made for my yard was the grill. There is nothing worse then having to heat up the oven on a warm summer day. It’s great to just fire up the grill and enjoy the outdoors. Some people find the menu options for a grill limiting, but the possibilities really are endless. You can grill vegetables, fruit, pizza, and even desserts!  (Read about their favorites here.)

TCP: You have a lot of DIY projects on your blog.  What’s the best beginner project for someone who wants to make patio decorations?

OLB: I think the easiest, most fabulous DIY project I have found is from In My Own Style.  Using a tuna can, old paint stick and a glass vase, you can create an amazing (and cheap) outdoor torch.

TCP: How have you decorated your own backyard/patio?  What’s your personal style like?

OLB: My backyard is still a work in progress. But my ultimate goal is to create a tranquil sanctuary.

I absolutely love the outdoors. That being said, I’m not what you call an “outdoorsy” person. I want my backyard to feel like an extension of my home, not like a campground. I want casual, relaxing furniture like patio sofas and chaise lounges. I would also love to have overstuffed cushions, toss pillows and a large, colorful outdoor rug. My dream yard would also have a large, wood pergola with soft, flowing outdoor curtains on all sides.

Outdoor Furniture Trends and Tips: An Interview with Mike Voyles from Home Infatuation

March 19, 2012 Interview, Patio Design

The Home Infatuation blog is full of great patio decor photos and inspiring design tips, and the Home Infatuation online store sells luxury patio furniture and outdoor living products.  We recently had the pleasure of talking to the owner of Home Infatuation, Mike Voyles, and asked him to share his knowledge about outdoor furniture and accessories.

Texas Custom Patios (TCP): What are some new outdoor furniture trends for 2012?

Mike Voyles (MV):  We tend to specialize in contemporary furnishings, whether it’s outdoor lamps or furniture.  Throughout the industry as a whole, you tend to see a lot of wicker, metal, and contemporary things.  Outdoor daybeds have become popular in the last few years too.

The trends aren’t changing that dramatically, but they’re shifting towards certain niches.  A lot of people are doing balconies and rooftop gardens.  There are more products aimed at urban living and smaller patios.

Also, there’s been a trend towards better quality.  Outdoor furniture keeps getting better—almost looks like something you can put in your house.  For example, there’s furniture that looks like leather, but can be used outdoors.

Another trend is lighting.  Outdoor lighting has gotten much better – more stylish.  You see furniture and accessories with LED lights.  Something that’s popular on our website is the furniture with lighted planters.

TCP: What’s the best way to protect patio furniture from wind, rain, and other weather?

MV: Everything we sell is durable and weather-resistant, but if you can afford to put a patio cover over your furniture, then definitely do it.  A patio cover will keep you from needing to clean your furniture all the time, and protects it from birds.  A lot of manufacturers make covers that are suited for their own pieces.

TCP: What’s the best way to clean your outdoor furniture?

MV:  Mild household cleaners are fine for the frames.  Most of the fabrics can be spot-cleaned with household cleaners.  Nowadays, there are plenty of cleaners out there, so it’s pretty easy to do.  The hardest material for people to take care of is stainless steel – mostly because they think they don’t need to clean it at all.  You need to wipe it down, especially if you’re in a coastal area where you might get salt spray.

TCP: We loved your recent blog posts on outdoor curtains.  They’re beautiful, but do they tend to get dirty?  How do you keep them clean?

MV: They’re machine washable.  Not only our brand, but all of them out there are made of machine washable fabric.

TCP: Can you hang them from most patio covers?

MV: Most people put up something to hang them, like a wire clothesline.  If they have a loop at the top, you can just put up a rod.  You can buy support poles and rods.

TCP: What are your favorite accessories for the patio?

MV: Pillows and rugs.  They have really come a long way in terms of their quality.  The pillows we sell can be used indoors and outdoors and look very nice.  They’re extremely durable and UV resistant.

Lighting is another favorite accessory.  There are lots of choices now and you can get electric or rechargeable.

TCP: How have you decorated your own backyard?  What’s your style like?

MV: Definitely contemporary, with a monochromatic, black and white scheme.  Not just contemporary furniture, but rugs, pillows, and lighting.  Also, you’ve gotta have an outdoor tv.  We sell them up to 55 inches now.  They’re weather-resistant and work well in the outdoor light.  They even work down to temperatures of zero degrees…if you want to be outdoors in that weather.

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