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Smart Solutions: Warm weather turns our thoughts to color, whimsy


Despite all the lingering cold and snow, it’s that time of year again when many turn their decorating efforts outside their door. When the temps hit a rare high last month, I set out to do some seasonal shopping with a friend where we got to see the latest outdoor décor and more.

Many of the current trends have a whimsical feel, which seems to signal the lighter side of summer. From butterfly-themed benches to boot-wearing frogs and spectacled bunnies, there were plenty of fun picks to grace any outdoor space.

At Farmer John’s Greenhouse in Farmington Hills, I ran into my neighbors I hadn’t seen all winter who were buying some wind chimes that are timeless in their appeal. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen others in our neighborhood getting their gardens in gear for the season with planting and weeding and all sorts of decor.

We also went to Tuesday Morning that day. Colorful garden stools caught our eye in both locations with a variety of patterns and styles. While the gray and white ones I have at home spend more time inside than out, the flexibility of these pieces to provide extra seating and surface space wherever they go makes them a popular pick for any environment.

The vast selection of planters we saw in assorted sizes, colors and shapes included rich hues like blues and greens that make a statement. The simplicity of traditional terra-cotta pots can also lend warmth to a porch or a patio.

My biggest purchase that afternoon, other than a frozen mango margarita that was very refreshing on a hot day, was a boxwood-style wreath that is clean and simple on its own, but can be embellished with quirky metal picks in the form of ladybugs and other critters. When I came home, I simply hung it on an existing nail above a table and chairs on my porch where it completed my outdoor space and gave it that finished indoor feel.

From classic weathervanes to fun face planters, I was drawn to just about all that I saw that day, including signs with quaint sayings, and garden statues like buddhas, gnomes, turtles and more.

A trip I took to Target a few days later yielded a colorful lounge-chair towel with pockets for personal items that I simply couldn’t pass up.

The following weekend, my friend and I headed to IKEA where we both bought some faux plants. I put one in a container I already had that says “Water Me” since artificial greens seem to be the only kind I can care for these days. They can easily transition from inside the home to an outdoor space when entertaining.

We also stopped at Big Lots where my friend had a topiary dog on hold that I had seen advertised in the paper and I ended up buying one too. This is another piece that might decorate my living room and the adjacent deck.

Even when the weather doesn’t seem to follow the change of seasons on the calendar, getting a head start on garden decor means your outdoor spaces are ready to go when the time is right.  

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.