Designers Create Places in the Sun

Designers Ellen Kavanaugh and Krista Alterman share their approaches to winning outdoor spaces in two stunning projects


Five-Star Mindset

Retreat-like elegance sets the tone at this Palm Beach refuge from designer Ellen Kavanaugh

Do you have a particular rule when it comes to outdoor living rooms?

Alfresco living spaces should always be cohesive with the interiors. You must treat them as one space.

In terms of outdoor design, what are your customers asking you for?

Comfort and durability. Those two things seem to be on everyone’s mind.

What furniture brands do you like to use in garden settings and why?

Janus et Cie, McKinnon & Harris, and Brown Jordan are three of my favorites. The craftsmanship and materials are superior, and they have beautiful collections.

What are some outdoor space challenges that are particular to Florida?

The elements. Not only does the sun take a toll on furniture, but being so close to the ocean means the salt air can do plenty of damage as well.

What do you tell clients to keep in mind about budget?

To invest in pieces that will last, which is worth it. And to think of outdoor spaces from the very beginning. In Florida, they’re as important as the interiors. Don’t make them an afterthought.

What was your approach to the space we see here?

The mission for this Palm Beach home was to create a space that was comfortable and inviting. We wanted it to be a retreat where people can lounge after they’ve had enough sun, yet also practical to gather and enjoy cocktails in the evening.

That fireplace is hard to miss. Is it just ornamental?

Oh no, it’s totally functional. But since we don’t use them much in Florida, I love filling them with plants and found objects like seashells to give them a finished touch.

What is your all-time favorite outdoor space?

The tiki hut at my home in the Keys. You can’t beat it. 

Neutral Territory

Designer Krista Alterman opts for a calm and relaxing palette at this Boca Raton patio 

What’s your approach to creating memorable outdoor spaces?

We never forget our signature style, livable luxury. We believe that outdoor areas should be natural extensions of their indoor counterparts, seamlessly coming together in a harmonious symphony of style.

What are your clients asking for?

They want a space that serves mixed purposes and is geared toward different activities. From swimming and putt-putt to lounging, outdoor spaces need to check off multiple boxes.

Do you have a preferred brand for outdoor projects?

My favorite is Janus et Cie. Their furniture is durable and resistant to stains, all kinds of weather conditions, and UV rays. And the pieces are woven by hand, so the craftsmanship is there.

When choosing furniture and accessories for outside, what materials do you look for?

I like powder-coated aluminum due to its durability, low maintenance, and design versatility. It’s also lightweight, sturdy, and environmentally friendly.

What was your design approach to the space we see here?

We wanted a space for both adults and young people alike, as the homeowners have two pre-teen kids. The layout of different zones was intentional because it encourages different activities at once.

The gray palette is somewhat of a surprise. What was behind that decision?

The whole home was designed in a neutral palette of gray, black, and cream. The couple wanted a very California-modern vibe, sophisticated with clean lines, so we carried the modern design sensibilities of the interiors to the outdoor spaces.

What’s your all-time favorite outdoor space?

I think it might just be this one. These are repeat clients, and they trust my vision completely. I just love how this space turned out and wish it was in my own home.

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