Bringing the comfort of the indoors outside is by no means a new decor trend. However, advances in motorization technology and in new fabrics for outdoor carpets, draperies, furniture and accessories are making outdoor-living spaces more comfortable – and more functional too.
For more than 30 years, John DiLuca, his sisters Agata (Olivieri) and Brenda, and their parents, Tony and Ada, have owned and operated Maple Drapery and Carpet, a custom window-and-floor-covering business serving the Greater Toronto Area from its stores in Concord and King City.
Window and floor coverings make up the bulk of their business. However, outdoor floor coverings, draperies, shades and screens are also becoming a growing segment. More homeowners are finding that investing in new high-quality outdoor products can make outdoor living more enjoyable, and extend the number of hours in a day that they can spend comfortably outside during the summer.
“Backyard patio” no longer captures the vibe of today’s outdoor spaces, says DiLuca. There is a lot that is new – loggias, for example. Loggias are galleries or rooms with one or more open sides that form part of a house but also have one side open to the garden. There are also new area rugs, wall-to-wall carpeting, luxurious outdoor drapery and special fabric-covered furniture and accessories that warm up outdoor spaces. “It’s about comfort and style,” he says.
The biggest innovation has been in outdoor area rugs and carpeting, says DiLuca. Earlier generations of outdoor floor coverings had a nylon look and feel. They also faded in the sun and were prone to mould and mildew. Today’s offerings from such manufacturers as Stanton and Antrim are made from polypropylene and UV-stabilized poly-silk in a vast selection of colours, patterns and textures. Given their appearance of natural fibres, they look so much like indoor products that many customers use them in kitchens, family rooms and even under the dining room table.
Draperies are also being used in outdoor structures. DiLuca says Maple Drapery uses durable and sun-resistant acrylic fabrics from Sunbrella and Bella Dura to add drama to outdoor covered porches and gazebos. The fabric selection runs the gamut from solids and patterns to stripes and sheers.
Retractable screens and roller shades from Hunter Douglas, Talius and Exo Système are also popular. They can be used in gazebos, on porches and in free-standing pergolas. They offer sun and insect protection as well as privacy. Some models can be motorized and come with a remote control. When they are lowered, they stay taut in a zipper-like track that runs up and down each side of the shade. There is no blowing or noise – a problem that had existed with earlier generations of retractable screens and roller shades.
Fabrics available for outdoor lounge furniture have also improved. The new fabrics are more durable, sun-resistant and stylish. Hemp and eco-fabrics are also coming onto the market but are not yet mainstream. Geometrics, florals, stripes and solids remain the most popular patterns for outdoor furniture, pillows and accessories. However, this year, dramatic animal prints – think blue and black leopard print – are especially trendy, says Agata Olivieri. You might not want to do your outdoor sofa in wild-animal print, but on throw pillows it can be perfect, she says.
Long gone are the days when an outdoor space was a couple of folding chairs on a patio. Today’s outdoor rooms are as highly designed as their indoor counterparts. And when it comes to shades, rugs, cushions and screens, the possibilities for beautifying those outdoor spaces are endless. •
Maple Drapery & Carpet
8481 Keele St., Concord ~ 905-660-7290
12967 Keele St., King City ~ 905-833-5464