Two designers help a trashy triad of furniture shed its curbside past to inspire an economy-friendly outdoor lounge
Produced, designed, styled and written by Brian Patrick Flynn with photography by Sarah Dorio
Lately I’ve been street hustling with hardcore garbage. It’s not my fault, I’m blaming the economy. Nowadays doing the design showroom mambo with deep-pocketed, Prada-clad clients is more fantasy than nine-to-five routine. To make a buck as a decorator in 2010, you’ve gotta strap on the knee pads, prepare to suck it [up] and hope that everyone else is putting out. The trash, that is.
Dumpster dives, curbside castaways and remnant rooms are now substitutes for occupational terms such as memo runs, borrowed floor models and sample sales. Since I’m known for vintage heavy spaces, my X-ray vision for hidden potential is a great fit for hounding trash [and cleaning it up]. As 70 degree no-chance-of-rain days set in, I kicked it into high gear and hired myself to design my own freecycled, trash-to-treasure outdoor lounge with a little help from my fellow DIY-challenged spatial planner friend, Sarah. We put together a bold, budget-minded gathering space just in time for friends—and yellow layers of Atlanta pollen—to christen it.
Green carpet treatment
If indoor living rooms are graced with area rugs, why shouldn’t outdoor versions be given the same treatment? Sarah and I scored a 12×8 remnant of faux turf on craigslist in exchange for simply hauling it away. Since the grassy area is often shaded by gargantuan pine trees, we layered the feet-pleasing fake stuff over sad, sparse patches of the real thing.
My power tool DIY skills are slim to none, therefore it was imperative my backyard lounge be a cinch to assemble. The one skill pertinent to a quick installation? Placing furniture, which apparently, Sarah and I are both VERY good at.
A trashy past
Our 1950′s sofa shed its flesh-toned past thanks to six yards of Sunbrella Velveteen in “Cinder”. How cool is it to have outdoor furniture with the rich look and soft feel of velvet? Like, VERY. 100% solution-dyed acrylic makes up this medium price point [95,000 double rubs] fabric find. Sofa? FREE.
Turks without Caicos
Thanks to Trina Turk’s Peacock Print for Schumacher, our side-of-the-road club chairs now show their true plumage. Turk’s line of acrylic prints are a medium price-point, to-the-trade-only miracle worker. Small chairs and pillows are an excellent way to put the Palm Springs Princess’s line to good use; while we needed two and a half yards to upholster each chair, it only took a single yard to create two pillows. Since the chairs cost zero dollars, splurging on fabric and upholstery was guilt-free.
You got served
In keeping with the affordability theme, we made a dash for IKEA. $300 later we moved our new TROLLSTA tray tables in place. Versatility is key when pinching pennies; TROLLSTA functions as a side table with a removable eating surface and, when grouped together, makes for a great coffee table alternative.
Versatility struck again, this time in the form of seat-maximizing, 30X30 floor pillows. We got all two-faced using the solid “Cinder” Velveteen on one side and Peacock Print on the other. While Trina Turk for Schumacher is the superhero of durable indoor/outdoor prints, Sunbrella Velveteen is the caped crusader of indoor/outdoor softness. NOTE: narcoleptic guests should be encouraged to slumber Sunbrella-side-up.
As I mentioned before, I’ve become a trash picking whore. By simply scoping out piles of discarded foliage, I made out with floral [we will get to that later] and the perfect branch for sculptural art. One half-can of violet spray paint later, the previously unwanted natural wonder was sitting pretty on the fence.
In less than a half hour, Sarah and I were all set up with no place to go. We added a few final touches before calling friends over: a Dwell Studio print pillow from Target, three down-filled 18X18′s made from violet mohair found at a remnant sale, mismatched cylindrical vases found on clearance, and FREE forsythia [suspiciously] cut on the fly from a neighbor’s blossoming tree.
Check out those posers
After roughly 21 minutes of setup, we kicked back and prepared to send in the clowns [aka our friends]. If our empty six-serving pitcher of spiked lemonade is any indication of our hosting skills, I think it’s safe to say we kinda suck.