Too many landscape designers ignore an obvious service they can provide to their clients. Once the structural and planting work on a patio, deck, or even front entry has been completed they believe they’re done and leave furniture and accessory choices up to the homeowner or their interior designers.
I shop for and with my clients since until the project is totally completed, I’m the one with the vision for how the space will be used. Why would I hand that off to someone else?
I’ll start an Ideabook and share it with a client to get the ideas flowing. I source new and if appropriate, re-purposed materials. Below is a large table and chairs I spotted for a client whose home has a distinct Nantucket vibe. We will add custom cushions and some other accessories as well as stools for the bar area. The furniture on the two other patio levels will coordinate, but won’t match giving it a ‘purchased over time’ feeling that many new spaces lack.
I’ve heard landscape designers say ‘I’m not interested in furniture’ and I wonder why? Why let plants, stone, and woodworking be the only design details? An interior designer wouldn’t stop at the walls and floor, why do they? Obviously it’s a profit center for a designer, but the client benefits by having the work done for them and having a useful, wonderful space as soon as its finished.
I include space planning for patios in my initial concept plans and will be teaching a course about it and furniture, fabric and accessory selection at NYBG in the spring (it’s not listed yet) complete with a field trip to the furniture showrooms. Too many people don’t make their outdoor spaces big enough to be really useful. They don’t think about the ‘how’ and ‘why’; only the ‘what’.
A new book, The Professional Designer’s Guide to Garden Furnishings, by fellow APLD landscape designer, Vanessa Gardner Nagel, aims to demystify the process of selecting furniture, fabrics and accessories. Nagel was an interior designer before turning her sights outside to the landscape, so she has a particular affinity for the subject. Her book covers stylistic information as well as materials selection and is comprehensive in scope.
The subject is treated in depth and is a great resource for seasoned pros and those new to the subject where there wasn’t one before. The Garden Furnishings Resources section relies on a product legend which I find to be cumbersome and I wish there was a loose leaf notebook version, a customizable source book, for practical, everyday use that could be updated at will or with updates from the publisher. From the publishing side, that could be an additional revenue stream in packet updates from suppliers but that’s another story all together. I also wish there had been a section for trade shows which I find to be among the most valuable and inspiring trips I take each year. All in all though, it’s a good book in a product area that has exploded in terms of what’s available in the past five years.