Outdoor designs have become as important in Ariz. as interior designs - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Real Estate

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Outdoor designs have become as important in Ariz. as interior designs

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Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013 12:45 pm

Finally, our weather has cooled so we can expand our living spaces to patios, gardens and backyards. After work and on weekends we can retreat outside to enjoy the warm days and cool evening breezes we look forward to from now until next May. Weekends mean we can invite family and friends over for those famous Arizona barbecues. Special celebrations can now be planned such as an assortment of parties, fundraisers or even an intimate wedding.

Just putting a table and chairs outside is not going to create a special atmosphere. Designing several areas with different uses is the key to maximizing all the backyard spaces.

Planning for different types of dining will enhance typical meals into a special event and wonderful memories. Three places should be considered for “El Fresco” dining:

1.) A breakfast patio for coffee, donuts and the morning paper make for a relaxing wake up that is hopefully accessible from the master bedroom. This garden niche can be designed like a French bistro with a decorative small cafe table and a pair of chairs. Colorful flower beds growing nearby or flowers planted in decorative pots would be cheerful and add to the ambiance. Enclosing this area for privacy with a high stucco, tiled walls, or even some fancy fencing means you could enjoy that coffee in your pajama’s if you so choose.

2.) The basic family’s outside dining table should be durable and adaptable and big enough to seat six to eight people for everyday dinners whether it’s round or rectangle, whether under a patio cover, the trees or an umbrella. This table can be dressed up with many seasonal accessories depending on all kinds of merriments and events.

3.) Dining for bigger, more elaborate backyard parties and celebrations may require more space to accommodate multiple tables, food serving space and bar tending areas. Extra space may necessitate expanding the patio areas adding concrete, pavers or tiles to the surroundings. Each of these hard surface elements can be decorative: the concrete can be scored with geometrics, borders and colored stains; the pavers and tiles can have different sizes, patterns or colors. These hard surface elements can have endless design possibilities and create gorgeous backdrops for an amazing and useful array of entertaining events. If you decide to use outside area rugs, know they will only last a few years before they disintegrate and need replacing.

Outdoor furniture selections have expanded from the basic lounge and chaise to include all kinds of side tables, chairs and sectional sofas. Special fabrics for outdoor living look great and wear for years even in our harsh Southwest weather. Fabrics in textures, patterns, stripes and solids will make the outdoor living room a stylish, cheerful place to hang out and dine out.

Draperies around the patio adds a posh touch and an infusion of romance to the surroundings. Again, specially treated fabrics in sheers and canvas are made to withstand the weather while their colors and patterns establish an elegant setting. Some of these draperies are pre-made and ready to be hung up while others are custom made with added elements of contrasting valances, unique tiebacks and gorgeous trims.

Multi-level evening lighting is a must for establishing the atmosphere for all outside activities. Primary lighting over the dining table can be as simple as a fan light, a string of cafe lights, or recessed lights. Secondary mood lighting on and around the table can be achieved using various sized candles, even putting them on iron stands or stone pedestals. Landscape lighting can be highly involved and extensive depending on the budget and certainly adds to the unique environment. Trees and plants can be up-lighted, decorative pathways highlighted, fountains and pools awash in mood lights, and artwork can be spot lighted. There are so many choices.

Artwork outside is the jewelry that adds sparkle and personality to the over all setting. There are endless secondary art forms, materials, styles and price tags that can add to other garden locations. One primary piece of art should take precedence as the focal point setting it up in the most impressive location in the garden with appropriate lighting. The fun is searching for the unusual and unique pieces of outside artwork in metal, stone, glass, sculptures, water features and now canvas paintings. These canvas paintings have a specially treated surface that holds up in all kinds of weather and showcases interesting subjects with an impressive artistic flourish.

Liven up your outdoor spaces, make them fun exciting places to spend time. Make them elegant entertaining destinations for your guests and private retreats of repose for you. Outdoor designed spaces have become as important in Arizona as the inside interior designs.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Carol Sampson is an award-winning interior designer and author of 35 years. Reach her at (480) 759-6763 or visit carol@mountainpointeinterios.com.

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Keystone Montessori

[David Jolkovski/AFN]
Teacher Pily Pantoja helps Sarah Wang, 4, with the addition snake game at Keystone Montessori on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.

Keystone Montessori has come a long way since its founding in 1995. Back then it was operated out of the founder’s home before eventually moving on to rent rooms from Horizon Presbyterian Church. It was only in 2000 that they had gained a strong enough enrollment to move into the facility where they currently reside on Liberty Lane, just off Desert Foothills Parkway and across from the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA.

The school services students as young as 18 years old, as part of their toddler program, and as old as ninth-graders. The current enrollment is around 320 students, who all have access to Spanish, music and arts programs in addition to the full Montessori curriculum.

“We provide an authentic Montessori education which focuses on the independence and whole development of the child, including academic as well as social and emotional growth,” said head of school Cindy Maschoff. “We want our students to become independent citizens of the world.”

The school will be taking the time to present the concept of Montessori education to the public Jan. 29 and 30. At the presentations the school will provide a clear understanding of what Montessori education looks like at each level of education. Those wanting to attend should plan on going to both meetings, with the Jan. 29 meeting going from 6-7 p.m. and the Jan. 30 meeting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The meetings require attendees to RSVP, which can be done by emailing laura@keystonemontessori.com.

For more information, visit keystonemontessori.com.

• Compiled by James Gingerich.

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