When her clients purchased a spectacular mountain retreat in North Carolina, Michelle Troxell, founder of Virginia-based design studio Grace Thomas Designs, embarked on a months-long journey to design an outdoor masterpiece. The dazzling property, awarded to previous owners as the 2006 HGTV Dream Home, features panoramic views of Chimney Rock State Park. Shimmering Lake Lure quietly snakes through the tree-covered mountains below.
Originally purchased as a vacation home, the homeowners quickly decided that seasonal visits weren’t enough; they craved more time to enjoy the breathtaking vistas. Soon enough, they relocated their successful law firm to North Carolina and made this mountainside maison their full-time residence.
With six adult sons, grandchildren, and beloved family pets all regular guests, the homeowners needed a space that could provide peace and tranquility, while accommodating frequent visitors. Troxell describes the outdoor patio as “a treat” for anyone invited into the home.
Undaunted by the property’s large footprint, Troxell began designing five distinct areas: a grassy dog trot, spacious landing area, fireplace lounge, magnificent swimming pool, and a soon-to-be outdoor pub. Cautious of overusing materials and similar furniture styles, the Grace Thomas Design team elected to include a “broad array” of Summer Classics collections, seamlessly mixing styles and materials to create visual diversity and divide the large space.
Although the husband initially resisted an outdoor television, Troxell and his wife “gently convinced him” to reconsider. Now, this once-controversial element hangs above the rustic stone fireplace as the centerpiece of “football games and family time”. Nearby, a Rectangular Farm Extension Table, Club Woven Sectional, and Club Woven Swivel Lounges invite guests to sit down and stay awhile. Perhaps the coziest section of the home’s exterior, you’ll often find the husband and the couple’s sweet labrador retriever enjoying this all-seasons covered lounge.
All-Seasons Enjoyment: Michelle Troxell’s Tips for a Year-Round Patio
Interior designer Michelle Troxell reveals how to extend the season of your outdoor spaces.
“Start with the end results in mind,” Michelle Troxell urges. By envisioning how the space will ultimately be used, she focuses on function throughout the design process, using specialty fabrics and trade-only resources to create interior-inspired outdoor spaces. For exterior longevity, she believes performance fabrics and quality cushions are essential.
Four-Seasons Spaces: 4 Tips for Autumn & Winter Outdoor Design
- Troxell suggests using colorful outdoor upholstery, as it’s easier to mask imperfections with bright or patterned textiles. Find the right fabric, and you can “simply brush the cushions clean.”
- For both interior and exterior projects, Troxell relies on high-quality cushion fills. Well-made cushions provide “superb comfort” indoors and “superb drainage” outdoors.
- Invest in performance fabrics. Troxell warns,“the sun will really show if you purchased quality or not”. This one-time splurge could massively increase the lifespan of your outdoor furniture.
- Consider the environment’s natural palette throughout the design process. Troxell believes that “working with nature” will amplify the beauty of your outdoor design.