One of the biggest challenges when decorating an outdoor space is figuring out a way to store cushions. You can imagine our delight when designer Miles Redd came up with a genius solution — store the cushion in a drawer underneath the seat! He designed his entire Bermuda Collection around this unique and functional feature, without giving up on style. We sat down to talk about his first outdoor collection and how he decorates his own outdoor spaces.
BD: So far, we’ve introduced two collections to your line here at Ballard Designs, but I think everyone at the office is most excited about your outdoor furniture collection, the Bermuda. What inspired this collection?
MR: The Chinese Chippendale elements appealed to me because I always see so much teak out there, which I do love, but for a certain type of house it just doesn’t work. For all of the Georgian and clapboard and white brick houses, I just think a classic, lattice makes a more elegant statement. It’s a kind of throwback to 30’s and 40’s which is a wheelhouse of inspiration for me. I can imagine any of these pieces in an English countryhouse.
BD: Probably the most exciting and unique aspect is the built-in drawers to store cushions. Genius! Where did this idea come from?
MR: They always say that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and I just had clients and even my parents complaining to me about what to do with the cushions to their outdoor furniture. They end up being littered around the living room. Even they’re outdoor, everyone knows that when those cushions get wet, they turn into giant sponges. It takes them days to dry out.
The idea of the storage came mostly just from analyzing furniture. You’ve got all of this space underneath the chair that isn’t being used. We’re always making trundle beds and furniture with drawers underneath for clients, why can’t you make a piece of furniture with a drawer to store the cushion?
My other favorite thing about this collection is that it looks great even without the cushion. So often furniture looks bare and skeletal without the cushion on it, but when you look out on your patio during the dead of winter, I think the Bermuda Collection will still look handsome.
BD: Another special detail is the glossy white finish. Why glossy white?
MR: Well, the glossiness will likely diminish over time, but mostly I just chose it because it’s easier to wipe down and clean. To me, white goes with everything, particularly outdoors. It’s the palette of nature. You’ve got blue skies, white clouds, and green trees, so I try to keep my outdoor palette within that venue because it just seems to integrate and work seamlessly.
BD: One of my favorite features is the expandable dining table. Two different tables can be grouped together to create different sizes and shapes depending on the size of your dining space. How do you see people using this?
MR: I think everyone has lots of different needs for their outdoor spaces. Some days, you may only need a small round table for your immediate family, and the next day you’re having friends over for a barbeque. I wanted to give people versatility.
Personally, I love to host big outdoor parties. There’s something about an outdoor dinner party that’s more casual, so I always end up inviting more and more people. With this table, that’s ok!
A lot of times, people don’t think like decorators when their furnishing their outdoor space like they would their indoor space. I want to teach people to think of your outdoor space as a room. One of these demilune tables makes a great console placed right up against a house covered in pots with two chairs on either side. It’ll start to feel more inviting and not so bleak.
BD: Most people probably wouldn’t consider using table lamps in their outdoor space, but you’re introducing one in this collection that’s meant to blend with your other pieces. Talk to us about why we should be using them outside and where to place them.
MR: So often on porches people only have overhead lighting which gives off really unflattering light. Lamplight is a decorator’s trick for getting a cozy feeling. Of course this lamp is designed for outdoor use, but I’d use it inside in a second. It could go both places, and you never have to worry about it being damaged.
BD: We love the mix and match concept behind the Bermuda collection. Your dining chair coordinates but has a very different shape from the other pieces, and you’ve also designed an alternative coffee table to use in your lounge collection. Should we be mixing and matching the pieces in our outdoor space?
MR: To me, when you use everything the same, it’s gets too matchy matchy. This chair coordinates but does have a different aesthetic. I love the rope treatment and the looseness of this chair. You know I’m always harping on the importance of tension, and the organic lines of the dining chair contrast the geometry of the rest of the Bermuda Collection.
I love the paw foot coffee table because it just adds an unexpected element while still working right in with a similar finish. I would use that coffee table inside as well.
BD: What are some easy rules we can follow when mixing and matching outdoor pieces?
MR: I would say that you should mix and match things a little bit, but I am actually a little more rigorous about things matching outdoors. And here’s why: you’re competing with nature. There are so many textures, colors, and organic lines outside, than when you’ve got too many shapes in your furniture, it becomes too much.
So that’s one of the reasons I stayed consistent with my finishes in this collection. Everything is either glossy white or a zinc grey.
BD: When we photographed your house last summer, we got a couple of shots of your terrace. How do you use this space? Do you entertain often? Use it as another living room? And how did you go about furnishing it?
MR: A city garden is a different animal than most people’s outdoor spaces because you’ve got a very condensed square footage and typically lots of hard surfaces around you, like brick and cement. I have always loved architectural spaces and architectural gardens with lots of greenery. In my own space, I’ve used lots of structure like boxwood balls.
BD: We love the place setting you put together for this table. Tell us some of the rules or style guidelines you live by when entertaining outdoors.
MR: I always find entertaining outside to be so much easier than entertaining inside because it’s so much more casual. I love serving big salads with maybe something simple from the grill. Keep it tasty and light, like summer.
BD: Ok, here’s a burning question. Should we be accessorizing our outdoor room?
MR: You know, I don’t love to accessorize outside only because then you have to lug everything in and out. Maybe I’ll have a stack of magazines or some small potted plants around, but other than that, I keep things really simple.
BD: Alright, final question. Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
I think it might be that chaise lounge, just because I love the lines and I love that you can stick that big cushion in the box. It’s always the lounge cushions that people complain about the most because they’re like big mattresses.