Sissy Blanchard, owner of Saltwater, on St. Simons Island, says that extending your living space into the outdoors is absolutely on trend, adding that’s become all the more important with the shelter-in-place situation.

“Flexibility is the key,” she said. “Being able to convert space, depending on how you want to use it has become important.”

To that end, she said, modular and minimal are the emerging trends, as is sustainability, particularly in coastal environments.

“ Choosing products that make use of ocean-bound plastics is not only environmentally friendly, it’s cost-effective,” Blanchard explained.

Design tips are plentiful, and include creating contrast with lines or color or textures.

“2020 is all about defining spaces, and stripes will help you accomplish this,” she said.

When undertaking a new outdoor room design, Blanchard recommends using the free resources available.

“If you are investing in outdoor furniture, ask the showroom for help,” she said. “For example, at Saltwater, we can bring the design kit to your space so you can see colors (and) materials in your lighting.”

There are also space-planning tools available online, and people contemplating an outdoor-design project, should draw a simple sketch of their space to scale because it’s helpful, Blanchard said.

“Measure twice, order once,” she said.

Of course, many homeowners already have beautiful outdoor rooms, and may seek to upgrade or improve them. Blanchard has some suggestions for them as well.

“Clearly defined areas are really helpful when it comes to outdoor spaces,” she said. “Use pavers or low-to-the-ground decks to create areas for specific use.”

Blanchard cautioned that in Coastal Georgia, plants, weeds and grass can grow quickly out of control when planted in the ground.

“To help, make use of containers to corral greenery; they can easily be moved around to create different venues,” she said, adding that homeowners should remember to add color, lighting and flames to create ambiance. She also recommended bringing interior decor outside for special occasions, like dinner parties or other gatherings. “Perfect isn’t the goal; go for inviting instead.”

As with all home improvement projects, creating beautiful outdoor spaces has its challenges, including the weather.

“ Other things to consider are privacy and shade,” Blanchard said. “Make use of existing hedges and trees, and consider incorporating umbrellas and shade sails where possible. And, because rainwater has to go somewhere, don’t forget about drainage.”