BY AMY DUFAULT
t's pretty safe to say that by June
we've opened our sheds once
again to the idea of summer,
pulled tarps off tightly covered lawn chairs
and tables, wiped the mildew off what we didn't cover properly and are thinking about our time outside. Which, home trend watchers say, we do more of every year.
Now, I don't know about you, but after the first cleaning of my own lawn furniture, I'm wondering if it's worth using another year. Does it just need a touch-up with paint or should it be reassembled at the dump where someone looking for treasure will see it as something wonderful.
With some outdoor furniture simply replacing or reupholstering the cushions can be enough to spruce up the overall look and feel of the suite. In some cases reupholstering can bring the indoor color scheme outside, so that both compliment each other. Innovative outdoor rooms that duplicate the comfort of outdoor rooms are a fun way to entertain guests in the warm months when we're itching to get outdoors, get into picnic mode, and see life from a different angle with trees and flowers at our sides.
But while you might imagine that most fabrics are too stiff to fully enjoy, technological advances in all-weather fabrics have eliminated the torturous scratchy or plastic feeling one usually had to endure, unless one were sitting on actual plastic chairs, and then the potential of slipping through the cracks was reason enough to
Designers jumping on the outdoor fabric
bandwagon, like Robert Allen and Susan Sargent, are in good company with a commercial enterprise that has been around since 2003 -Sunbrella-. It's a popular outdoor fabric subsidiary of fabric manufacturer Glen Raven, Inc.
Cheryl Sedaker of SeaCheryl Designs in West Yarmouth is a local designer who is a big fan of outdoor furnishings and uses sunbrella fabrics because of the unique combination of solution-dyed acrylic yarns woven together with a soil and stain resistant finish.
"Often the perception of outdoor fabrics is that they're made from plastic and uncomfortable, but I use sunbrella fabrics because they are so user-friendly," says Sedaker, who admits the fabric she uses is a little stiffer than indoor fabric, but it is still soft to the touch and cleans easily with mild or natural soap like Ivory, Deft or Woolite.
A Fashion Institute of Technology and University of Connecticut clothing and textiles major, Sedaker's passion for outdoor decorating started with the discovery that marine-weight fabrics were not all that dissimilar to outdoor furniture weight, and she brought a cache of the Sunbrella fabric down to her home in the Bahamas for the winter.
"The Bahamas were the perfect place to experiment because it's in the sun all the time but it would never fade," says Sedaker who started making grill covers and outdoor furniture upholstery with sunbrella.
Friends enamored with her designs and ability to pair patterns and colors, then start asking her to do entire outdoor ensembles in the sunbrella fabric because they has seen how well it had held up for her and how well it could coordinate their outdoors with their indoors.
Word of mouth now keeps Sedaker buzzing around clients homes taking measurements and piecing together ideas to create interesting design arrangements, both on the Cape and in the Bahamas. "We are living outdoors more and want the outdoors to come with us. I see a great deal more variety in grilling, how patio furniture has changed from picnic tables to all the choices we have now and the special catalogs that are out there for outdoor living. I get the biggest kick out of being part of the design of someone's home," says Sedaker.
Some Cape Codders who love getting ahead of the game have been readying their outdoor play areas for months.
Wendy Harris, owner of Window Express/ Gotcha Covered Fabrics in Yarmouth says she's seen "steady activity" since February, with clients bringing in weather worn love seats and chair sets, as well as chaise lounges with ottomans and pillows.
Do customers want to freshen up the look of their outdoor furniture?
Harris says, Yes.
"Styles do change. Our cape clientele still enjoys the patterns in blues and yellows and bright colors. We love to be outdoors and we don't want dreary and drab, we want bright and cheerful," says harris who offers in home and showroom consultations.
Many of her clients will bring in a single seat back cushion for sizing and styling so they can begin to figure out how much fabric is needed and how much the project will cost. The sticher who has been working for them for over 25 years does her magic. Often harris sees the same response from her customers: They're shocked to see their outdoor pieces come to life with the change, almost as if they've bought a brand new piece of furniture.
Harris is another big fan of Sunbrella fabric with the life expectancy of the material holding up anywhere from seven to 10 years, depending on how it's maintained with regard to cleaning, exposure to natural elements, and usage. "We use a lot of fabrics for indoor use as well. Many people have sunrooms and screened porches so the use is not limited strictly to outdoors. Customers are concerned with sun and fading choose Sunbrella for its resistance to fading and mildew. We have Sunbrella remnant pieces in stock as well as many sample books to choose patterns from. A number of fabric companies such as Waverly and Robert Allen take the most popular colorful patterns and have them printed onto Sunbrella based materials. The selection is very comprehensive," says Harris.