How to Decorate Your Outdoor Space for Summer


If you have a balcony, terrace or patio it’s even better. And if you’re lucky enough to have a little outdoor space, like a balcony, terrace or patio, it’s even better.

But how to make the most of that prime real estate?

Christine and John Gachot, the designers who founded the New York interiors studio Gachot, have a little experience with that. They have designed city hotspots like Pebble Bar, Jac’s Bond and a Midtown apartment with six terraces and balconies. The multi-level penthouse was once owned by the revered architect Paul Rudolph. It has a panoramic view of the East River and Roosevelt Island, as well as the Pepsi-Cola Sign in Long Island City, from its largest terrace. It’s not surprising that they spend the majority of their time there. He noted that it can be used as a place of refuge or for entertaining. It can even stand in for a summer house (without the annoying drive).

Despite the impressive setting, they go for a casual, comfortable vibe on their terrace, whether they’re preparing for a quiet evening in or a celebration with friends.

“You want it to feel as good as an indoor room,” said Ms. Gachot, 54. You don’t want to be precious, but you also don’t want it to feel like a summer house. It should put a smile on your face.”

The couple recently showed a reporter how they get their terrace ready for a day of entertaining.

Care for the Containers

Mr. Gachot begins each day by watering the containers on the terrace, which the couple planted with hydrangeas, echinacea and mandevilla.

But before entertaining friends, they examine their plants more closely and prune, deadhead and water them again. Few things look sadder on a sunny afternoon than drooping flowers.

To define a seating area and create a space that’s comfortable for bare feet, the Gachots roll out an outdoor rug made from synthetic sisal.

Otherwise, “the stone gets really hot,” Ms. Gachot said. “A rug creates the feeling of an interior room, and people can sit on it comfortably.”

They soften up the seating by using outdoor fabric pillows and throws, which they found in many places, including Alt for Living. To be prepared for additional people, we will pull in floor cushion, too.”

They used pillows in different shapes and sizes in black and off-white fabrics for a more casual look. “I love black at the beach, or on a terrace,” Ms. Gachot said.

When they’re not spending time on the terrace, they stow the accessories in a closet just inside the apartment.

To prepare for sunset, they bring out portable lanterns. There are string lights above, but it’s important to create several layers of lighting both outdoors and indoors. In this case, there is a canopy overhead, but we also need something lower. Portable speakers make it easier than ever to bring sound outside (the couple use a Sonos Move).

Prepare a Bar

The Gachots don’t have an outdoor kitchen, but they still create a bar whenever they invite friends over. They add attractive wooden trays to s rolling wire cart and place ice-filled bottles of rose in the silver bowl.

Mr. Portable speakers make bringing sound outside easier than ever (the couple use a Sonos Move).

The Gachots don’t have an outdoor kitchen, but they still create a bar whenever they have friends over, by adding attractive wooden trays to a Uline rolling wire cart, along with a silver bowl to hold bottles of rose on ice.

Next to it, they plunk down a vintage-style Coleman cooler filled with beer, cold-brew coffee and sparkling water.

Mr. Mr. Gachot likes to set out bar accessories, such as cocktail shakers and small plates. “That’s the smoke and mirrors,” he said.

Provide Entertainment

“There’s a bit of that ‘Rear Window’ factor,” Mr. Gachot said, recalling the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film. Binoculars play a part in that. Sign up for weekly emails on residential real estate.