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Bringing th­e Inside Out

With comfy seating and plush accessories, this redesigned patio features many of the same touches found in a contemporary living room



Don Riley

There was a time, not so long ago, when patio furnishings were remarkably different than their indoor counterparts. These pieces were made with frames of metal, wood or plastic that deteriorated over the course of a single season, and featured unfashionable fabrics that bleached easily in the bright summer sun. 

 Today, thankfully, there’s no shortage of patio furnishings and accessories that are stylish enough to go indoors—and durable enough to stay out. The backyard of this Cherry Hills Village home, revamped by Heather Rossi of Secret Garden Designs and Lane Oliver of LEO Interior Design, shows off many of these gems: an array of chairs, sofas, lounges, tables, rugs, draperies, lamps and accessories that blur the line between indoor and outdoor furniture.  

The homeowners had made small improvements to their outdoor space over time, including the addition of a fire pit and pergola, before deciding to invest in some major changes. They installed a new spa in a far corner of the property and added a bathhouse to the main Italian Villa-style house, upgrades that prompted them to overhaul the entire backyard to make it more functional for entertaining, both during the day and into the evening. 

Using a palette of light colors with accents of dark plum to create a “serene, spa-like” feeling, Oliver went to work creating spaces for conversation, sunbathing, serving food and drinks, dining, reading and relaxing. 

“The scale of the furniture is substantial and the cushions are lush and thick,” she says. “I added lamps for peaceful lighting and selected tables with clean lines and sleek silhouettes. These details mirror furnishings that you would have inside the house, creating a comfortable outdoor living space.” 

A single handcrafted round table from McKinnon and Harris ties everything together. The piece is placed between the lounging and dining areas, so that no matter where guests sit, they feel like they’re part of one continuous room. “It’s a grounding area for serving appetizers and drinks,” Oliver explains. “Everyone will come back and forth between that spot.” 

Outdoor rugs warm the expansive brick patio, and draperies soften the pergola, providing a welcome respite from the heat. Upkeep of these supple outdoor fabrics, made by Kravet of solution-dyed acrylic, is surprisingly simple: “You can just hose off the fabric,” which Oliver says feels as soft as those you’d find indoors, “and use a leaf blower to keep the rugs clean.” 

While the designer selected elements to soften the space, Rossi addressed the hard surfaces. To break up the large expanse of the patio, she replaced some of the existing brick with decorative squares of concrete, installing a new grid in a small grassy area next to the pool. This feature also helps connect the main patio with the new spa.  

Collaborating with Oliver, the landscape designer selected a pretty mix of mostly native perennials and annuals for the edges of the yard and the large pots on the patio. “We chose flowers in white and purple tones to give the space a little bit of punch,” she says. “The majority of the plant material is white, which is great for an evening garden party. You can see the garden when the moon is out, because the white flowers reflect the light.” 

With that enchanting glow emanating from the surrounding foliage, and the fire pit and lamps lit throughout the patio, this “room” is as beautiful and comfortable as any indoor space. As a result, it’s  quickly become a favorite place for friends to linger on a warm summer evening, long after the sun has dipped behind the mountains.   

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