People are traveling less and spending a lot more time in their homes—and outside of them. Photo: Joseph Ruggiero & Associates, Inc.
When it comes to outdoor furnishings, it’s all about them standing up to wear and tear. Photo: Joseph Ruggiero & Associates, Inc.
The options for converting dead outdoor space into a lively room or series of rooms are limitless. Photo: Joseph Ruggiero & Associates, Inc.
Consider Your Local Environment
“When we are working with environmental changes we are very respectful of the terra,” says celebrity designer Joe Ruggiero, referencing working with the land and not against it. “Gravel is great because of the drainage and is also easy on the budget. You can also talk to your local nursery or garden center people about plants that are appropriate for your climate,” he says, “plus your environmental footprint lessens when all it takes to get to Europe or France or the beach is stepping into your own backyard!”
Outdoor Living with Joe Ruggiero
Celebrity designer Joe Ruggiero shares his thoughts on creating the ultimate outdoor escape.
- by Nicole Crews
If you’ve ever tuned into HGTV over the years, watched an episode of the PBS award-winning series “This Old House,” or watched design segments on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” then you will probably recognize celebrity designer and trendsetter Joe Ruggiero. The 30-year career veteran is also known nationally for his “IdeaHouses” that showcase products and trends in lifestyle.
In 2000, Ruggiero launched a multi-tiered home collection that includes one of today’s hottest trends—outdoor living. “This is the new frontier in design,” he says, “and people the world over are rediscovering their own backyards, porches and patios and converting them into a living space that suits their lifestyle.”
If you're interested in transforming your yard, porch or patio into a welcoming outdoor living area, Ruggiero has some easy advice to get you started.
Creating Outdoor "Rooms"
From tiny terraces to substantial yards, the options for converting dead outdoor space into a lively room or series of rooms are limitless, says Ruggiero. “My daughter and son-in-law put their own sweat equity into turning their yard into what looks like the south of France,” he says, “by using pea gravel to create parterres—or little rooms—they get to travel to Europe every time they step outside.”
Ruggiero says you could create the same effect on a patio or terrace by using formal planters to delineate the space and add Old World-inspired seating with corresponding outdoor fabrics for comfort. In his own outdoor space, the designer rearranges planters in the form of Versailles boxes and trellises for different occasions. “If I’m having an intimate dinner, I can create a charming, tiny setting, but if I’m entertaining on a grand scale we can open it all up,” he says.
Choosing Your Style Destination
“I think a lot of people are traveling less and spending a lot more time in their homes—and outside of them,” he says, “so there is a certain element of escapism associated with outdoor living.” Ruggiero’s own lines veer in style from French to Italian to English to Chinese Chippendale to modern-feeling cast aluminum and faux bamboo all the way to cottage-inspired all-weather wicker. “People can really express themselves with all of the choices today, and if they are really intrepid they can mix styles, or hire a designer to help them do it,” says Ruggiero, whose own lines feature myriad finishes and fabrics with decorator trim to create pillows, upholstery and even drapery for the outdoors.
Function, Function, Function
Ruggiero likes to quote Albert Einstein to describe the outdoor décor planning process: “Vision without execution is hallucination,” especially when talking about technological advances in outdoor materials. In the past, outdoor fabrics and finishes have had a short shelf life. In today’s design world, however, it’s all about wear and tear. “There are outdoor fabrics that have lasting power that come in velvets, boucles, chenilles—even leathers,” says Ruggiero, “and now there are rugs and lighting meant to withstand the elements ... so, there is no stopping the outdoor room.”