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Published: Friday, 9/19/2008

Fabulous Fabrics for Outdoor Spaces

(ARA) - A crackling fire sends sparks flying into a star-filled sky. Good food and great company set the tone for an almost perfect evening alfresco. Stop! What's wrong with this picture? How about the faded cushions, tired table covers and sagging chairs that have seen better days?

Outdoor living has always held a romantic appeal, but its rustic nature often lacked a sense of sophistication. Furniture has evolved way beyond Adirondack chairs and lumpy cushions. With today's high-performance fabrics, you can decorate and live fashionably and comfortably, both indoors and out, without worrying about spills and messes. Beautiful, durable and practical high-performance fabrics are available in such a wide range of patterns and colors that you will never have to compromise on style.

"Today's active lifestyles have inspired families to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces in their homes," says Jan Jessup, national spokesperson for interior design retailer Calico Corners. "Dress up an outdoor entertaining space with bold stripes and bright prints. Reupholster dining room chairs in elegant fabrics of Sunbrella or Sensuede faux suede. Create bed dressings or table skirts that resist a spilled cup of coffee. With hundreds of high performance fabrics available, you can live in stress-free style, knowing sloppy kids, pets and even guests won't ruin your furnishings."

Here are four reasons why we love these fabrics:

1. They are durable. High performance fabrics are perfect for family rooms, kitchen and dining room chairs, outdoor cushions -- even patio umbrellas. They're designed for every room you live in.

2. They are stain-repellent. Most high performance fabrics have a fiber content and stain-repellent finish that makes care and cleaning simple. Stains can usually be removed with dish soap and water. A mild bleach solution can be used on Sunbrella acrylic fabrics to remove stubborn stains. Outdoor cushions can even be hosed down (especially when filled with quick-draining marine foam).

3. And for indoor use, furniture of Sensuede faux suede can be easily cleaned using a little dish soap. "I have dining room chairs upholstered in four colors of Sensuede," Jessup says, "and you would never know about the ground-in chocolate cake or the salad dressing stains after dinner parties. A soapy sponge, some paper towels, and it all came right out." In today's green-focused world, environmentally conscious consumers will be happy to know that Sensuede is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

4. They are fade resistant. High performance Sunbrella fabrics resist fading, mildew, water and soil. They're ideal for use outdoors, inside near sunny windows and in steamy bathrooms for shades and upholstery. Acrylic fabrics do not support the growth of mildew. Mildew can grow on dirt, so keep your cushions clean.

5. They are beautiful. High performance fabrics that were once stiff as a board now come with a softer texture. You'll find beautiful fabrics in chenilles, velvets, jacquards, damasks and relaxed twill textures -- even sheers.

Distinctive patterns inspired by the design of geisha robes or Chippendale railings are found in some of the newest indoor/outdoor fabrics. Softer greens and blues, crisp navy and white, and graphic black and white designs are among the new introductions. Stripes that work with plaids that complement prints make it easy to mix fabrics without looking like hodge-podge lodge. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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