Summer entertaining on Cape Cod is all about easy, relaxed gatherings in outdoor living rooms.
Summer is coming and after the winter New Englanders have endured in 2015, nothing could be better than a return to life outdoors. On Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, homeowners have a wide array of options to make the most of our celebrated coastal season.
According to local professionals and suppliers, outdoor entertaining—on patios, decks, pool-side, or simply in the backyard—is rising in popularity, especially when it comes to creating attractive spaces that can handle large groups gathering in a comfortable, centralized outdoor location with all the amenities.
Rick Concordia, owner of Casual Designs of Cape Cod in Harwichport and Mashpee, says that homeowners are basically moving their living rooms from the inside out, creating spacious, relaxed outdoor spaces that include interior comforts—from super-comfy sectional sofas to carpeting.
“We have noticed that large groupings with sectional sofas surrounding firepits—especially the gas-fired models—are really popular,” says Concordia, whose company has featured outdoor and casual furniture on the Cape for 32 years. “The gas-fired models are just huge for us right now. We carry five different lines, including both circular and rectangular models.”
Concordia says outdoor entertaining has moved away from traditional patio table and chair groupings to clusters of comfortable, sectional sofa-style furnishings for both dining and entertaining. “The sectional sofas are designed with all kinds of great materials; they can be manufactured out of resin or vinyl-wicker—and there are options in teak and aluminum as well,” says Concordia. “We are also seeing a rise in popularity for cushioned swivel gliders that are really comfortable.”
“Outdoor furnishing is all about lounge-style furniture, such as large sectional sofas with comfortable cushions—top quality pieces that can stay outdoors in our coastal environment,” says Doug Shearer, co-owner with his wife, Kristin, of Paine’s Patio, located in Bourne on MacArthur Boulevard, which has focused on casual indoor and outdoor furnishings suited to the Cape and Islands lifestyle since 2003.
Shearer agrees that firepits—in one form or another—have been hot sellers over the past decade. The pits—many of which do double duty as a piece of furniture as well as a form of entertainment, now come in a large variety of sizes.
“We have some smaller models on the floor of our showroom that work great on a balcony deck, or for a café set. They are getting a lot of attention,” Shearer says. Whether natural or gas-fired, the firepits create a wonderful gathering spot for entertaining and extend the enjoyment of an outdoor space by at least a month on either end of the season. “They serve as a decorative piece of furniture as well as a practical heat source,” says Shearer.
Concordia says that outdoor rugs—manufactured from easy-care polypropylene, which can simply be hosed down for easy drying after a big cookout or gathering—are also trending right now for outdoor entertaining. “You can leave the rugs out all summer—they are a great addition to the outdoor living room style of entertaining that is so big right now,” says Concordia.
Colorful, ottoman-style “poufs” designed in whimsical colors and patterns can also add a relaxed touch of pizzazz to sectional sofa groupings. “We are seeing a return to really bright colors and designs,” Concordia notes. “People seem to be happy about entertaining outside!”
The natural beauty of the Cape and Islands provides the perfect stage for any outdoor celebration, but Mother Nature can be given a hand when it comes to providing pops of color and texture with outdoor planters overflowing with flowers and foliage. Large planters grouped around sectional sofas, or placed together for a privacy screen, can add that final touch that makes any summer gathering memorable.
“A collection of planted containers can soften an outdoor dining area that is paved with stone or decking,” says Marcia Chapman, an avid horticulturalist who provides hands-on experience gleaned from her own spectacular Cape Cod garden to customers as part of the crew at Soares Flower Garden Nursery in East Falmouth.
“Planters can create a mood: a simple planting in matching containers makes a formal statement. An eclectic grouping of planters is more casual. And you can even include pots of herbs that are handy for outdoor cooking and as additions to cocktails,” says Chapman.
Chapman notes that planters and container gardens are portable and can be moved easily to set any stage and can also be changed with the seasons. “For instance, in the spring and early summer, you can plant your containers with tulips and pansies, which can be replaced with colorful summer annuals, and then replanted again with striking ornamental grasses in autumn,” says Chapman. She also notes that easy-care planters are especially attractive to aging gardeners, who sometimes struggle to manage plantings in beds, or borders.
Now that the winter of 2015 is finally in the record books, Cape and Islands homeowners and visitors are ready to move the party outdoors and start entertaining, from the first Memorial Day cookout, to the last autumnal bash. Start setting the stage for your summer celebrations with a little help from the pros who know all about making summer magic happen.
For more information, visit capecodlife.com/readersinfo.