WV Design Team: Get outside into your comfort zone

This Tommy Bahama sectional from Lexington embodies a soft, contemporary style. Photo courtesy of WE
Made in America, this all-weather wicker Nantucket group from Lloyd Flanders is available in several
The look of natural rattan is achieved with vinyl handcrafted wicker over an aluminum frame in the N
The Charleston Collection from Lane Venture is made of a cast aluminum frame and includes dining pie
Any Sherwin–Williams paint color is available on the hand-woven wicker in the Chandler Bay collect
Mimi Wells, of Wells Home Furnishings, joins the WV Design Team. Photo courtesy of MIMI WELLS.

This week we are pleased to introduce the newest member of the WV Design Team, which is really a team in and of itself — a team of 10 interior design consultants at Wells Home Furnishings.

Twenty years ago, John Wells and his father opened a 10,000-square-foot furniture store on Corridor G in Charleston.

They brought with them a combined 60 years of experience in the wholesale furniture distributorship business. They felt Charleston needed a new concept in retail furniture: custom-ordered furniture — helping customers get exactly what they want.

Since then, John and his wife, Mimi, have grown the original store into a 30,000-square-foot showroom with a team of 10 design consultants and an in-home design program to help customers make the design decisions that best suit their needs.

Mimi, along with expertise and talents of the Wells team, will join other members of the WV Design Team in presenting West Virginia-specific design tips and suggestions each week.

Her debut article is timely indeed: designing your outdoor space, just in time for the warm months ahead.

By Mimi Wells

WV Design Team

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s been a long winter here in West Virginia — cold temperatures, little sunshine and lots of snow. But spring has arrived and everyone is anxious to get outside and enjoy the summer elements.

Whether your outdoor space is a small front porch, a large back patio, poolside lounge, a screened-in room, a small area with an umbrella or a grass lawn, many of the same considerations regarding your indoor rooms should be made when planning your outdoor area.

Of course, comfort, style and quality are the priorities for most homeowners with regard to their homes.

With all of the new product options available for outdoor furnishings, you can achieve the same priorities for your outdoor living space.

No longer is outdoor furniture limited to hard seating surfaces in brown or white!

Paula Gaal, one of our designers here at Wells Home Furnishings, sees the outdoor living space as an extension of the home’s indoor space.

When designing an outdoor space, Paula believes it’s important to complement your home’s architectural style. “The same colors, patterns and styles should flow from inside to outside the home. The end result is an outdoor space that harmonizes with your home and landscape,” she says.

The first step in planning your outdoor space is to determine how you will be using the space.

Zoe Morris, one of our design consultants, says she asks clients to focus on how they want to use the space and consider the time of day they want to be outside.

“If you’re a morning person, maybe a soft rocker is a perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee and greet the day,” she says. “A night owl? How about a fire pit or an outdoor lamp? If your job requires you to work at home, outside at home may mean a work station and a good chair, glass-top bistro table and umbrella (for sunlight control) next to an outlet and within range of Wi-Fi.”

Measuring the space and determining how the space will be used is an important step prior to investing in the outdoor furnishings.

Simply looking at your outside space may give you the feeling that you will need more furniture than you actually do.

Instead, take a few minutes to get the measurements of the space and the dimensions of the furniture you have in mind. That way you can plan the layout that works best for you before you buy a single thing — you may find you need less than you think!

Use graph paper or an online virtual design system to help you visualize the space. Ours is completely free and can be accessed at www.wellshome.com. Click on the “Design & Create” tab, and then “Plan your Room.”

The online layout will help you determine the size, number and types of furniture pieces you need. Here are a few tips as you begin space planning:

• Determine how the space will be used and the optimum number of seats.

• When necessary, divide the space into areas of function. For example, a large patio may be divided into areas for conversation and areas for eating.

• Consider the elements.

As you space plan, some furnishings may be more exposed to sun and rain than others. Exposure to the elements may affect your choices of furnishings.

Although technology has advanced the suitability of available outdoor products, their use in unprotected outdoor settings will increase the maintenance required.

Therefore, most products are best suited for use in areas covered or protected from direct exposure.

Maintenance will play a large role in the longevity of your furniture. It is best to consult with your furniture retailer or the manufacturer of your furniture regarding care and maintenance.

Here are some product tips to keep in mind when looking to purchase quality outdoor furniture:

Frame construction and styles

Frame choices will be determined by your personal style and comfort level as well as how exposed to the weather the furniture will be and how you intend to maintain the furniture.

For example, steel frames put together with bolts will rust, and the hardware can work itself loose.

Fully welded 100 percent aluminum frames won’t rust and don’t have hardware to maintain.

Frame choices may include natural wicker, synthetic or vinyl wicker, aluminum and upholstered frames.

For those who love the look of wicker, one manufacturer, Lloyd Flanders, has developed a patented all-weather wicker that will not crack or peel and comes in an array of color choices.

Fabric choices

Technology and innovation in the textile industry have put outdoor fabrics in a category of performance and style that was unheard of just a few years ago.

Now you can have beautiful fabrics outside that perform exceptionally with the right amount of care.

The best performance fabrics are those made of 100 percent solution-dyed acrylic.

Sunbrella is the most recognized of these fabrics and are available on select manufacturers of quality indoor and outdoor upholstery.

These fabrics are highly resistant to UV exposure, mildew, fading, staining and stretching.

Not inexpensive, performance fabrics are a wise investment for the longevity of upholstered outdoor furniture.

Cushion comfort and durability

Once again, technology has allowed the consumer of quality outdoor furniture optimum comfort.

Cushions truly made for outdoor use will typically be constructed of 100 percent polyester fibers and are hydrophobic, meaning that they are nonabsorbent and drain and dry more easily than a typical foam cushion.

Purchasing quality outdoor furniture is an investment that you will be enjoying for many years, so it is important to make wise buying decisions.

Many quality home furnishing stores offer in-home design services.

Design service options are based on the customer’s specific design needs. We have options ranging from just $30 for a one time in-home consultation up to $70 for a complete room design plan. This plan often includes ideas for window treatments, accessories, paint colors or whatever your need may be.

West Virginia may have endured a brutal winter, but summer is just around the corner. The right style, finish and fabric selections will help you enjoy the season to its fullest!

For more information, visit www.wellshome.com or call the store at 304-343-3600. Follow Wells Home Furnishings on Facebook and on Twitter at @WellsHomeFurn. Email questions or comments to Mimi Wells at mimi@wellshome.com.

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