Wasn’t too long ago a small balcony, terrace or rooftop was an extra storage room. Only the hippies on Lamma and the new-agey types in Sai Kung used their outdoor space for, gulp, dining and relaxing in. No more. Rainy season or not, Hongkongers have embraced the use of outdoor space for living. Hey, it could mean an extra 50, 100 or 400 square feet.
Many of the trends you find indoors you’ll find outdoors too. Colour always works outside, as do natural woods (treat it right) and stone, and plants. But sometimes we still need some hints. Hong Kong now has a host of retail options for outdoor decorators, from large-scale high-end suites to budget-friendly small-space elements. Two folding chairs are just as welcoming as a fixed sectional.
To that end, we start with the latest from IKEA. All the jokes in the world don’t make the Swedish retail giant a less viable option for many of us. This year’s collection of brightly coloured folding and machine washable sun loungers and beach chairs (the Håmö and Mysingsö) are light — yet durable — enough to carry back and forth from a rooftop. Also available is the Bunsö children’s easy chair designed specifically for smaller sun bunnies. If you’re in the market for a more substantial terrace make-over the Äpplarö series now includes bar stools, bar tables and gate-leg table for tighter spaces that may not be able to accommodate the more spread out extending table and dining chairs. Äpplarö is constructed from pre-treated acacia and finished with a semi-transparent stain. And IKEA wouldn’t be IKEA if it didn’t have some complementing accessories. The Solvinden solar-powered ground lights and floor lamps uphold the retailer’s sustainability pledges and look really cool. Also: no plug required.
At Hong Kong’s other sustainability leader, TREE, the Vintage collection recalls the chic of the 1950s and ’60s and began its life as regular dining furniture. Demand compelled TREE to rework it for outdoor use, and the result is individual pieces made from reclaimed teak that will stand up to the elements. Elsewhere, if you don’t need to fold up your lounger after a day working on your base, the Vincent Sheppard line is a modern spin on Lloyd Loom. Sustainable kraft paper is wound around an aluminium wire to make super-strong, durable, eco-friendly and stylish “fabric.” The Deauville lounger (appropriate for Gina Lollobrigida types) is designed for long stretches of relaxing with a good book, and is fitted with a waterproof cushion. The Monaco dining chair is an elegant addition to the table (yes, it will go fine with a Vintage piece) and the slightly arched back is suitable for long lazy dinners. Finally, the Nice is made with casual afternoons in mind, with its curved armrests and ample seating.
Rounding out the trio is arguably the city’s premier outdoor furniture supplier, Everything Under the Sun. If you own your home and have outdoor space you owe it to yourself to exploit it, and this year’s new additions go a long way to realising another functional room. Among the new arrivals is the Cane-line Diamond by Dutch designers Foersom & Hiort-Lorenzen, an all-weather sofa. Modern and sleek, the Diamond sofa is practically maintenance free and can stay out in the elements 365 days. For more decadent relaxing, the Mercury Lounge by Tucci uses a polished titanium frame for a component-style sofa/bed that features its own retractable roof. For dining, Gloster’s retro Sway chairs (powdercoated stainless steel and sling seating) and Tribu’s new Illum chair (classical aluminium) are as flexible as they are comfortable. If room is still an issue, grab one of the Cane-line On-the-Move side tables. Made from light aluminium and convertible to a serving tray, it’s a way to create space where none exists. Accessorising really finishes a room, so cap off the space with greenery in a stylish fleur ami stone or teak planter and a Lighthouse Lantern for a touch of ambience. You’ll never head indoors.