Outdoor Living

Beyond taking care of ourselves and our families, part of living a more healthy lifestyle also means taking care of our homes. Making healthy, environmentally friendly decisions, say with our choices in paint (always go with zero- or low-VOC option) or building materials (reclaimed wood anyone?) are great first steps. But how about simply embracing and tending to what we already have? So many of us are programmed to think that improving our home always means building something bigger and better, but not so says Hamptons-based celebrity designer Kenny Davis.

“We should enjoy our home for what it is and rather than building up or out, we should enjoy living in it, making the most of it and filling it with beauty,” he says. “Long Island is such a beautiful place to live, filled with sandy beaches, gorgeous flowers and gardens. Why not take advantage and let it inspire you?”

One of Davis’ favorite suggestions is to head outside and create a “garden room,” a designated space in your front, back or side yard that celebrates nature and provides you with a new spot for whatever it is you like to do. “It can be as simple as planting a group of hydrangeas in your front yard and arranging them in a way so that they create a sense of privacy for you. Add a bench and it becomes a quiet reading spot or add a small table and chairs set and now you have a new spot for entertaining friends,” he says.

While there are no rules, Davis suggests following a few key tips. First, if you decide to plant new flowers, he recommends choosing perennials. “Annuals die off too quickly,” says Davis. “Perennials continue their gestation, living year after year, sending oxygen out, which is a great benefit to the environment and really, all of us.”

Another idea? Plant a tree or a bush, something with a longer life ahead. “I love the idea of doing this in honor a loved one,” Davis says. “Not only does it continue the life cycle, but it adds a special, personal touch to your home.”

Whatever you decide to do, don’t be afraid. According to Davis, anyone can have a lush beautiful garden.”There is no such thing as a green thumb,” he says. “Everyone is capable of growing a patch of flowers or the lushest of gardens, all it takes is time, patience and lots of care and nurturing. Plus, it’s such great exercise! It gets you outdoors enjoying your environment.”

Next, he suggests choosing the right hues. “Color is super important, “ he says. “It’s a personal choice, a reflection of your personality, however, if you need a little inspiration step outside and take note of the colors you are most drawn too. I prefer the cool palette of a blue hydrangea bush while someone else might be drawn to the pop of a dark pink English rose. Either way, go with what you love.”

Once you’ve established that color palette for your outdoor living space, think about bringing it inside too. Take a bloom with you to the paint store and have them find you a matching shade or dig through your closet and pull out a silk scarf in a matching shade and use it to dress up a plain lampshade. “Tending to your home inside and out with the same care and attention to detail establishes a seamless flow of bringing the outdoors in and vice-versa.”

The key here, according to Davis, is to be fearless. By following your own path and celebrating what you have in the best way possible, you are not only living life to the fullest but also a healthier, perhaps even less stressful lifestyle. “I believe there are never mistakes. If it makes you happy, it is not a mistake, it’s lovely.”

lauren debellis

A former magazine editor, Lauren DeBellis has been writing and producing stories about home decorating and design for nearly ten years. She resides in East Northport with her husband.