Make your own back yard the ‘place to be’ while social distancing

Whether you seek feng shui or a practical range of materials, most outdoor family home entertainment spaces incorporate some of the five elements of the material world in Chinese medicine, wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, to invoke harmony and comfort.

As of press time, we’ve already been in social isolation for a couple of months, hunkered down with our families. Many of us, however, have already spent days outside in the sunshine for solitary pursuits like readying the garden or cleaning off decks and patios.

With the cold weather behind us, it’s finally time to plan for some extended family time outdoors. What better way to enjoy it then by having beautiful, comfortable furniture to accommodate your alfresco lifestyle, suggests Joe Soave, owner of Seasons Too Ltd. in Darien?

Soave and Brett Falotico, who handles sales and home consultations for the company, which also has locations in Brewster and Larchmont, N.Y., share these stylish furniture ideas that consider the 2020 season’s trends:

“The ongoing love affair with teak is still strong, carried over from the prior season, and there are new enhancements like the rope and teak Hudson furniture from Kingsley Bate that's causing a lot of interest,” Soave says.

Other fashionable brands include the “clean, sleek lines of the Brown Jordan Walter Lamb Aluminum Collection, which satisfy the more contemporary customers and the wicker representations of the Sag Harbor sectional, which still has a hold on the comfort seekers,” says Falotico.

“Those looking for functional statement pieces are trending towards the beautiful Tuuci umbrellas. Their dynamic designs are both extremely sturdy as well as beautiful,” Soave adds.

Once the furniture selections are complete, customers seem to be “falling in love” with the ease of new fire pits that are designed to complement many styles, according to Soave, who notes that most are fueled with propane or bioethanol.

Multimedia entertainment, which started moving outdoors for the warm seasons several years ago, is particularly popular now, observes Eugene Reelick, owner of Hollandia Nurseries, which has two locations in Bethel.

Sunnier, warmer days bring toasty evenings, so take family movie time outdoors with a projection screen and speakers that can be set up permanently and are ready for media streaming on your iPad. Reelick says he’s created plenty of the setups with families in mind.

Fire pits have long been a trend and are particularly inviting, Reelick says, referring to the “old standby,” which pretty much brings the homey into outdoors at home, whether your design is simple or lavish. “Fire pits are being designed and built with more creative options, such as a cocktail table cover and cooking surfaces,” he adds.

And while hosting a big cookout or throwing a party is a no-go with everyone observing social distancing, self-isolation, or self-quarantine, family mealtime can be a special feast by an outdoor kitchen or pizza oven, both “hot” commodities in the al fresco dining arena, another suggestion from Reelick.

Lawn setups for popular games like cornhole have also made their way into permanence for landscape ideas and come made of granite or marble with lighting for late-night fun.

And if your interest is tranquility and nature, keep it simple but harmonious by adding a beautiful water feature. The mindful addition is “always an impressive addition to any outdoor entertaining area,” says Reelick. Imagine it, install it, and then add some color.

“Pollinator gardens are an unusual but beautiful surround for your patio, attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, and honeybees during the day,” Reelick explains.

So whether you are creating something special for entertaining a whole sports team (once we’re back to normal) or just for the private enjoyment of your family, be sure to consider each member, their ages, and their attitudes when making your choices, Reelick suggests.

The Dock Shop, with locations in Darien and Westport, caters to the beach lover, boating enthusiast and serious fisherman/fisherwoman with carefully selected products that truly represent life on the New England coast. According to Michael LaScala, one of the owners, “The majority of the products sold are made in the United States, right here in New England. We have partnered with many local artists and craftsmen to present products with a nautical flare that represent the heart of the coastal lifestyle.”

From Made in Maine home accessories such as chairs, tables, and table top items made from lobster traps, rope, and sail cloth, and backyard coolers that looks like boats for keeping your drinks cold, to drinkware, decanters, and serving boards that can be personalized in-house with the nautical design of your choice, “The Dock Shop is ready to help homeowners have fun in the sun, in their own backyard,” LaScala says.

Chris Meier, owner of Against the Grain in New Canaan, has been busy putting all of the interior and exterior home decor items his store carries online so customers can place orders, and most of the products can be delivered immediately to a customer’s yard or placed outside the store for curbside pickup. “Homeowners are realizing that the weather is getting nicer, they’re home most of the time, and they suddenly need outdoor furniture and accessories,” Meier observes.

The store works directly with Amish craftsmen to procure Adirondack chairs in a wide variety of colors … dove gray, white, red, yellow, lime green, and blue, to name a few, “and one Westport customer always buys orange, it’s her favorite,” Meier says.

The store also features counter height settees, benches, swivel gliders and chairs, end tables, steel fire pits manufactured in the U.K. (some of which you can cook on), bird feeders and birdhouses in wood and recycled poly lumber, which requires no upkeep; rustic wooden serving bowls, cutting boards, cheese slicers, gourmet foods, sweet treats, and even puzzles and games, for kids and adults, to keep entertained while outdoors (or inside).

As many stores are currently closed to the public, visit the websites for these and other home-related stores for ordering, pickup, and delivery options.