Inside Out

Date June 30, 2009 at 10:00 PM

Categories Performing Arts

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With 325 days of sunshine annually and warm weather through most of the year, Santa Feans are blessed with the option of extending their living and entertaining areas beyond their home’s exterior walls. Cheryl Jamison and ASID Interior Designer Barbara Templeman, the dynamic team behind insideOUT, bring together decades of experience designing spaces on both sides of a home to help you make the most of your living areas.

insideOUT is the brainchild of Barbara, birthed when the two mused over their mutual passion for designing outdoor spaces that are both functional and pleasing. Incorporating her 40 years of expertise as an interior designer with Cheryl’s equally impressive knowledge of outdoor grilling and entertaining, the two have conspired to offer a design company that provides homeowners with a full range of services from simple consultations to full-fledged conceptual layout and implementation.

This is our second installment on designing your home’s exterior. In this issue, the two discuss the Universe of Equipment, offering readers insight and information on what is available in the realm of outdoor equipment and furnishings. That’s right, there is a veritable universe of options when it comes to outdoor living. From grills to furniture and decor, you need not settle for materials or a design that limits your ability to enjoy your home’s exterior, regardless of your budget.

“There are three important functions to consider when designing and equipping an outdoor space,” says Cheryl, “entertaining, cooking and relaxation.” Entertaining can include anything from family gatherings to large parties. Cooking, as we will see, can be as simple as burgers on the grill or as elaborate as one can imagine; while relaxation includes both personal enjoyment of your yard and a comfortable place for groups.

Barbara and Cheryl work with a stable of contractors, landscape architects and custom fabricators in order to meet their clients’ varied needs. Brent Bolton, for example, is an Albuquerque metal fabricator who also happens to be a cowboy chuck wagon cook. “If anyone understands outdoor cooking and cookware fabrication, it’s Brent!” enthuses Cheryl. Furniture and decking craftsman Peter Chandler of Deck and Chair is another craftsman the team relies on to create custom decking and furnishings. “Peter is very knowledgeable about his materials and extends himself to accommodate his clients,” says Barbara.

I spent an afternoon with the two in Cheryl’s elegant and decidedly functional Tesuque garden. The gregarious pair was eager to share with me their extensive knowledge of the equipment and design ingredients that go into making a functional and pleasing outdoor setting.

Entertaining

When it comes to the entertaining aspect of your home’s exterior, there are several important features to consider. “A service area is a must,” says Barbara. “You need a table or console of some sort for beverages and appetizers,” she explains. “This can be permanent or moveable, but there has to be somewhere to work.” Cheryl smiles in agreement and then shares with us a story of just how important this little item is. “My grandson was visiting and he wanted to help us cook,” she says. “He knew he needed somewhere to work that was his height, so he grabbed a luggage stand and set it up next to our grill!”

Another component that the two believe is critical, but which many people might not consider, is a flat, safe flooring area. “You don’t want your guests with high heels getting stuck,” muses Barbara. “It’s also necessary for after-dark entertaining,” adds Cheryl. Options to consider can include tightly fit wood, brick, stone, etched or stained concrete, or an exposed aggregate that is formed by pouring concrete and then removing its outer ‘skin’ to reveal a decorative underlay that is skid-resistant and durable.

Lighting is also key for both safety and atmosphere, and this can be done with the use of diffused electric lights (flood lights should be avoided) as well as candles protected by hurricane lamps. “I use a lot of candles on my patio when I’m entertaining,” says Barbara, adding that they are both functional after dark and create a pleasing ambiance. If your yard has high adobe walls, sconces are a particularly creative way to add lighting that is both decorative and practical.

Cooking

In the realm of outdoor cooking, the equipment available today is almost mind-boggling. Gone are the days of the tri-pod stand charcoal burner with single grate. Well beyond a grill, there are manufacturers now designing complete outdoor stations. Free-standing and moveable, or built into stone or stainless steel cabinetry, these modular units can be custom designed to include all sorts of options such as pizza ovens, margarita centers, refrigerators, prep stations, wine bars, warming drawers, searing stations, side grills and more.

For smaller spaces and budgets however, the equipment needn’t be so elaborate. The two most important features for any exterior cooking space are quite simple: a quality grill and what Barbara refers to as a “landing space.” No, this is not for your jet-setting guest’s arrival, it is a place for preparing food or ‘landing’ it once it is grilled. “A table or countertop will do and can be either permanent or portable, depending on space and your needs,” she says.

For a grill, the foremost factor to consider is its ability to provide a range of heat. Gas, fire and even infrared cooking are all options worth considering, depending on your objectives and your budget. For those who cringe at the thought of gas grilling, take note: according to Cheryl, the notion that charcoal-grilled meats taste better than their gas equivalent is a myth. “What you need to look at is how hot a grill can get,” she explains. “Many gas grills simply do not get hot enough and cannot effectively sear the juicy flavors into the meat.” Gas is quicker and neater than charcoal (as long as you are sure your tank is full before the party begins) so for those of you who would prefer the convenience of gas, Cheryl recommends you use the hand heat test when shopping.  “This shows you a grill’s true capabilities,” she says. The test is simple and any merchant should be willing to let you experiment before buying. With the heat on high, simply hold your hand about two inches from the cooking grate. If you don’t feel compelled to pull your hand away within 1 to 2 seconds, the grill does not get hot enough to cook meats to their best taste. 

Cheryl also expressed her enthusiasm for the new, infrared heating technology. “This is a very good method of cooking with high heat. There is something about the process that actually drives moisture into the meat, searing it in most effectively,” she says.

Relaxation

Spaces for relaxing include areas for your own private enjoyment as well as those that can be used for guests to gather. As with the other functions for your yard, there are several factors to consider when designing your relaxing spaces. “A conversation area is a must,” says Barbara. This means creating areas separate from the meal table and cooking station that includes some seating.

In recent years, outdoor furnishings have become designer affairs, thanks to the advent of materials that retain their quality under all weather conditions. “Almost anything that is available for indoors — drapery, cushion fabrics, rugs, and furnishings — can now be used outdoors,” explains Barbara. With many materials now rated for outside use, it is easy to have your home’s exterior spaces be a true extension of its interior. She showed me several different cushions with fabrics that felt as soft as cotton.  “This one is ten years old,” she confided, handing me a red pillow that was smooth to the touch and appeared as bright as it may have been the day she bought it. “They are all made of synthetic fibers, and many of them from recycled materials,” she added.

In addition to cushions, furniture is now often made from synthetic fibers that remarkably mimic rattan and other natural materials. Designs run the gamut from pleasingly functional or classic (such as Louis the XIV reproductions), to edgy, conceptual arrangements created by international design teams. I asked Barbara what she would do with an unlimited budget for an outdoor furnishing grouping. “I’d choose an entire Sutherland or Dedon collection,” she replied without hesitation.

A water feature is also important to designing a relaxation space. These can be created simply, and serve a number of purposes. In addition to providing pleasing background sounds, they offer a cooling effect, attract wild life, and drown out traffic noise in urban areas. “In Santa Fe, a water feature is especially nice,” points out Cheryl, adding that it requires neither a large expense nor copious amounts of water.

The two also suggest that a functional chaise lounge is an important piece of furniture for outdoor relaxation, whether alone or for groups. “A well-designed chaise can double as a comfy bench to seat several people,” says Barbara. “With a chaise intelligently placed in a conversation area, the seating can be expanded while still offering lounge area for single or small gatherings.”

Finally, both agree that protection from the elements must be considered in the overall design. This can be as simple as planning the site to block wind or adding an umbrella, sun shade or tree canopy to offer areas of both shade and sun.

In our next issue we’ll follow Cheryl and Barbara as they redesign a small outdoor patio that utilizes some of their best design ideas and creates a memorable outdoor space that just begs for a party!

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