Inside Out: Innovative Textiles Suitable for Indoors or Out

Take advantage of the season and step over the threshold to enjoy the added living space outside your home. These days, with fresh innovations in both texture and design, we can take all our cozy creature comforts outdoors. Pillows, drapery, rugs and cushions – all are weather-resistant and all look great.

Homeowners once had a limited selection of fabrics that could make the transition to an outdoor living space. Colors and patterns were restricted simply because manufacturers were rare, and the biggest hindrance was texture. Few consumers were interested in nestling their toes into a scratchy tarp-like rug.

Today, thanks to a toe-friendly polypropylene blend, modern indoor/ outdoor rugs and fabrics have finally widened the scope of weatherresistant design.

Mary Brockman of Urban Merchant in downtown Lynchburg stands by the Dash and Albert brand as a purveyor of this new trend in outdoor décor.

“I think, in the industry, Dash and Albert is among the best you can buy for occasional rugs…They feel so good, you can’t tell that they’re plastic.”

She went on to note the affordability of the rugs, made evident by the reasonably priced selection in store. The smallest is perfect for laying beside an outdoor grill or in your entryway.

If you once thought that bright colors were impossible to keep under the sun’s summertime beating, think again. Neon yellows, rich plums and punchy magentas are no longer susceptible to the elements thanks to these advancements in material and finish. Happily, the pattern options are just as broad as the hues they come in. From zigzags and polka dots to stripes and interlocking diamonds, there’s a look for everyone.

Not sure where to begin? Try focusing on a specific color to help narrow down the array of choices. Seaglass is topping the trends this season, and for good reason. The soft blue with a hint of green is a not-so-subtle homage to the coastal hue we love so much at this time of year.

If you’re working with an outdoor deck, one option is to begin by grounding the space with a seaglass colored area rug. For a cottage garden look, try going with a graphic diamond pattern in the rug, and layer an accent color on the seating with pillows or cushions upholstered in a pale yellow floral. Finish it off with painted coral side tables and bunches of fresh flowers in vases or hanging baskets.

Or maybe you’re going for a nostalgic nautical theme. For this look, pick a classic stripe for the rug and use a bold pop of red for the pillows and add a marine motif – think anchors, sea shells or starfish. Iron lanterns and rustic wooden planters carry the idea through the rest of the space.

To complete any look, hang crisp white shades. They’ll help cool the outdoor living space midday, and offer a respite from rain during a summer squall.

Interior decorator Ashley Greer at Curtains, Blinds & Bath in Forest explained that  their line of Solar Screen Shades are ideal for outdoor use. The shades are mildew free, antimicrobial and they don’t release toxins, making them an environmentally conscious choice.

Like other outdoor fabrics, these hardy shades have come a long way in design and pattern. The colors and textures are easily suited to a variety of tastes, ranging from basic solids to more decorative bamboo motifs. With more than 50 options to choose from, you’re sure to find a match for your style and budget.

Think beyond the outdoors and consider using these sturdy fabrics in the hardest working areas in your home as well. Although outdoor fabrics don’t feel like it, they are based in plastic construction, making them a breeze to wipe down. Stains are hard pressed to leave a lasting mark. So, don’t cry over spilled marinara!

“Our Dash and Albert rugs are husband proof, dog proof and child proof.” Brockman said with a chuckle. “They’re great for family rooms, kids’ rooms, porches – you name it.”

The kitchen is a prime location for everyday messes, and it’s a room that can benefit from an area rug. If you’d love to add that extra layer beneath the dining room table or kitchen sink to soften the space but worry about clean up hassles, an indoor/ outdoor rug can quickly allay those fears.

Heather Kinder of spaces by a little french is an avid cheerleader for these textiles, especially when it comes to their compatibility with high-traffic (and high-stain) areas like the kitchen. Kinder is a fan of Sunbrella fabrics and explained that, although the fabrics will soil with everyday use, they are guaranteed to clean.

“If you can’t get that last little bit of grime with normal upholstery cleaning methods, a little bit of bleach solution will do the trick and won’t harm the material,” she said.

Don’t hesitate to give spots a good scrubbing if necessary. Kinder added, “Because the fabric is made of acrylic, the colors are impregnated within the fibers, making them fade resistant.”

Additionally, wet feet straight out of the shower may not have the force of seasonal rainstorms, which outdoor rugs are made to withstand; but those same tootsies will be pleasantly surprised the first time they step onto the soft feel of a well-placed rug in the bathroom.

“Although [these fabrics] are 100% acrylic, they have the soft feel of what we consider indoor fabrics – things like cotton and chenille,” said Kinder. “It’s not stiff like canvas and doesn’t have that heavy plastic coating.”

Dawn Rezai, owner of Persian Rugs & More, has stocked indoor/outdoor rugs since their introduction to modern home decor. With the ease of living they allow her customers, it’s no surprise that Rezai whole-heartedly backs the collections she keeps in stock. Specifically, the line of Momeni rugs she carries easily plays the part usually filled by delicate wool rugs made for indoor spaces.

“The quality and workmanship is so beautiful that many people choose them for kitchens and bathrooms because they have the luxury of washing them frequently with a hose,” Rezai remarked.

While these pieces make for practical, stylish choices indoors, the mold, bleach and fade resistant, hand hooked fibers also make them a natural choice for outdoor spaces where the elements can be fierce.

“One of our customers has used one for three years on the back open deck and the rug is still beautiful.”

In today’s budget-conscious, fast-paced world, versatility is everything. We seek out pieces that work for this and for that, and are drawn towards products that allow us to kill two (or three, or four!) birds with one stone. By embracing these modern new textiles, homeowners are able to effectively double their potential living space. Here’s to a summer enjoyed (stylishly) under the sun!

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