Award-winning designer Kerrie Kelly shares 10 Top Tips for designing the ultimate outdoor living space


In the Chicago Evening Post, Coyote Outdoor brand ambassador Kerrie Kelly offers 10 key points to consider when designing an outdoor space.

1. Form and Function. Who will be enjoying the outdoor space? Kids? The chef? Guests? And what type of events will be in the space – big parties? Weeknight dinners? End-of-season team celebrations? Consider lighting and landscaping, plantings that will enhance these activities.

2. Lay the foundation. Regardless of the size of your space, use every inch to maximize the area. You can use the same principles as you do indoors. Visually, start with a large area rug to anchor the space. There are lots of furniture options, from a simple bistro set to an island with storage, barstools, etc. You can add a fountain or water feature, fireplace, fire pit, grill, seating and more. Create zones for cooking, dining and relaxing.

3. Look up! Think of the ceiling and floor as the fifth and sixth walls. A pergola or awning, like those from ShadeTree Canopies, can provide protection from sun or rain, add some architecture to the space, and be rolled back for stargazing.

4. Create some privacy. You can do this with floating wood panels, draperies, decorative fencing, tall plantings like bamboo or hedges. This creates intimacy and a sound barrier, too.

5. Think of your space as if you’re inside. Incorporate sofas, side tables, chairs, ottomans, even outdoor lamps. If you extend the color scheme from indoors, it expands the visual and makes your space seem larger. Create multiple areas to eat and drink. Kelly has a license with Coyote Outdoor Living for three furniture collections — Laguna, Catalina and South Beach —that go with Coyote Outdoor Living’s stainless-still grills and other outdoor kitchen appliances.

6. Create a focal point. Guide guests to a specific area. You can have some artwork, a fire pit, sculpture or a fountain. This draws guests through the space.

7. Remember, you’ll get hungry! Stock an outdoor entertainment center with beverages and remember the appropriate cooking equipment. Today, this can go beyond the grill — which can be gas or charcoal — and include an Asado smoker, pizza oven, a refrigerator or ice maker. Make sure these are high-performance models and appropriate for the outdoors. You can build storage into islands. This rounds out the entertaining experience and elevates the “wow” factor!

8. Accessorize! Potted plants, mirrors, pillows, lanterns and artwork all let your personality come through. Outdoor rugs, like my collection with Feizy, are now made of materials like 100% PET [polyethylene terephthalate], made from recycled plastic water bottles, so they’re also sustainable and easy-maintenance as they can be hosed off.

9. Light the night. This is the key to enjoying your space after dark, for ambience as well as safety. Have task lights for cooking, light pathways, suspend pendants over a bar area, and incorporate dimmable lighting in an eating area. Be wary of solar-powered lights, however. They can look very fluorescent, defeating the purpose of intimate mood lighting.

10. Set the mood. Audio and video technology creates the mood, whether it’s music for a dinner party or team pride on game day. Be sure your space caters to all ages of the family!

Whether you have an urban patio space or a sprawling suburban backyard, these tips from Kerrie Kelly will help you create your own outdoor oasis.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

toffee STICKY-TOFFEE PUDDING Servings Serves 12 Ingredients Pudding: 1 cup dates 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon baking soda 5 tablespoons softened butter, plus additional for molds 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 egg, beaten Toffee Sauce:  7 tablespoons unsalted butter 3/4 cup cream 11/3 cups dark-brown sugar 2 tablespoons Myers’s rum, or to taste Cooking Instructions Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the dates, and boil for 5 minutes. Strain, and place the dates in a bowl of cold water. Working in the water, remove the skins and pits from the dates. Place the dates in a medium saucepan with 1 cup water, vanilla extract, and baking soda. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 2 minutes (watch carefully, as it will foam). Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by-12-inch baking dish or 12 6-ounce ramekins very well. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and sugar in a bowl. Cream the butter briefly in a mixing bowl. Add the date mixture, dry ingredients, and egg, and stir gently to combine. (Do not over-mix.) Spoon the mixture into the molds or baking dish until they are a bit less than half full. Set on a cookie sheet, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Toffee Sauce: While the pudding bakes, combine the butter, cream, and brown sugar with 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, add rum, and set aside, keeping the sauce warm. Remove the pudding from the oven when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If using a large baking dish, cut the pudding into 12 squares. Pour the sauce over the pudding, allowing it to seep down around the sides and cover the top. (Use a fork to pull the pudding away from the pan, to get the sauce down the sides.) Bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature. Serve with Rum Raisin ice cream, if desired.

Texas Monthly Gulf Coast Show Home at Cinnamon Shore Features Bertazzoni and U-Line



Room by room, every selection made for this beachy haven at Cinnamon Shore, including refrigeration by U-Line and Bertazzoni, and a cooktop and range by Bertazzoni, contributes to the spectacular result: a comfortable, contemporary, brand-new home that stands the test of time.

Nostalgia for the coast meets 21st-century style inside the Texas Monthly Gulf Coast Show Home at Cinnamon Shore. At this New Urban community in Port Aransas, vacationers experience the best of small-town life.

Cinnamon Shore is walkable, with plenty of green spaces for mingling, and though exteriors have a cohesive charm, homeowners can customize their homes’ interiors for livable luxury that suits their tastes. “Cinnamon Shore invites residents to create dream homes by the Gulf, places where they’ll bring their children and grandchildren one day,” says Jeff Lamkin, developer of the community.

The magazine’s Show Home blends classic beach house charm with a contemporary vibe. “Our family loves time at the beach, especially at Cinnamon Shore,” says designer Carrie Brewer of Brewer Design Solutions.

Describing her inspiration for Show Home interiors, she says, “We knew from the beginning we wanted a unique look and feel that would harken back to 19th-century beach cottages with an interior that veiled a modern, high-tech home of durable interior products. Each design was selected to create a life of ease, with modern family lifestyle and functionality in mind.”


Based in Austin and Port Aransas, Brewer knows the latest design trends of the area and how to infuse them with the charm of a classic beach cottage. “It’s a contrast throughout the whole house,” she says, pointing to a natural limestone display contrasted by glossy paint finishes. “The gourmet kitchen echoes this look with vibrant finishes on the Italian Bertazzoni kitchen appliances countered by driftwood-washed rafters and beams.” U-Line undercounter refrigeration was chosen, including a 24 inch Beverage Center and Wine Captain.


From day one, Brewer worked with the Davies Collaborative architects and her visionary husband, builder Cass Brewer of Legacy DCS, to create a space so memorable and functional that time away at the coast would be a true retreat. “We made sure everything we put in the home would wear well to last generation to generation,” Brewer says.


A view of the kitchen featuring Bertazzoni range and hood


Here is a description of the appliances by U-Line and Bertazzoni that were used in the home:

Texas Monthly Home at Cinnamon Shore


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