In Sun Valley
by Cassidy Mantor
It’s no surprise that outdoor spaces have been one of the most popular home upgrades requested over the past few years. Idaho attracts people who appreciate nature, and it follows that outdoor living spaces are a key source of enjoying one’s home in Sun Valley. Decks, patios, and yards offer exciting options to continue the outdoor experience even after a hike or bike ride is over. Innovations in fabrics and materials mean that outdoor living spaces can look as stylish as the inside of a home while still being as functional and durable as ever.
A good outdoor living area in Sun Valley is comfortable and tasteful. It’s furnished with objects that can stand up to the intense sun and winter weather and complements the personal style of the home-owner. We’ve scoured our town and are excited to bring you some insights from two local businesses that will help you design your dream outdoor living space:
-Outdoor furniture and stylish gatherings, The Open Room
-Summer spaces and easy-to-care-for outdoor furnishings, Top Notch Fine Furnishings
The Open Room
Daylight lasts until 10pm here and summer in Sun Valley is a lot of fun,” says Heather Newhouse, owner of The Open Room. Her Ketchum, Idaho-based small, independent, family-owned business offers home furnishings for indoor and outdoor living. Their goal is to provide clients with honest, personal, friendly service and beautiful pieces. In their design approach, they strive to create indoor and outdoor rooms that are aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Summer in Sun Valley involves getting outside – hiking, biking, going to the symphony – and when it’s time to come home, it’s important to have a comfortable space for entertaining and relaxing. The Open Room specializes in helping clients create outdoor living areas that are casual, comfortable, and designed for entertaining in a way that works for their lifestyles, whether they are hosting 4 or 12 people.
Heather leads field trips to clients’ homes so she can help them with space planning. Those trips help her get a better sense for a home’s style and her client’s preferences, as well as what pieces to suggest that might create a strong indoor-outdoor connection and effortless flow throughout the house. With the long hours of daylight and high elevation, an important consideration for outdoor spaces in Sun Valley is creating shade. “If one’s house doesn’t have a built-in structure that protects from the sun’s intensity – and a lot of places don’t – having a good umbrella is imperative,” Heather says. The Open Room offers cantilever and center pole market umbrellas, as well as tilting ones that can be adjusted to make late afternoons a lot more comfortable on a sunny day.
New trends that The Open Room is embracing this season are low-maintenance, easy-care pieces from prestigious brands such as Brown Jordan, Loll Designs, and Cane-line. Heather references Brown Jordan, a brand that just celebrated its 75th anniversary, and how they have brought back classic pieces but have replaced vinyl and plastic strapping used in traditional pool furniture with fabrics. “They have a softer touch and can be hosed down,” Heather explains. “They also don’t require cushions.”
Another fun piece for outdoor entertaining is a bar trolley from Loll Designs. Made from recycled milk jugs, they’re sustainable, colorful, and useful. “They’re made in Minnesota and are durable so they can be left out all winter and require very little maintenance,” Heather says. She adds that there are knockoffs on the market that are half the price, but they’re also half the product.
Wicker has also seen innovation in recent years. The Open Room works with Danish brand Cane-line, that makes all-weather wicker from resin in a range of weaves from small to chunky. Cane-line chairs are handmade, and the company has thrived during the pandemic and been able to readily produce what The Open Room’s customers have ordered in a timely manner. “I was Zooming with them last week and learned that it takes two weeks for an artisan to handweave the popular Breeze high-back chair,” Heather says. “This is not a factory-produced item, and yet it is beautiful and withstands Sun Valley’s climate.”
Whether working with a business in town or a client on their home, The Open Room helps design warm, welcoming, and functional spaces inside and out. When asked about her ideal summer party, Heather says, “I tend to like having several areas where people can flow and mingle. Music, cocktails, and nibbles help create a tasteful but laid-back vibe.” But then she adds, “For me, because I work so much in the summer, it’s more about me asking our customers how they live and how they entertain. Then furnishing their space with components that complement their day-to-day lives and meet their needs and wishes for entertaining.”
“I tend to like having several areas where people can flow and mingle. Music, cocktails, and nibbles help create a tasteful but laid-back vibe.”–Heather Newhouse, The Open Room
Year-Round Comfortable Outdoor Living
Topnotch Fine Furnishings
People come to the mountains to relax – it’s a place for family and friends to feel at ease,” says Arianne Heyser, Interior Designer and Co-Owner of Topnotch Fine Furnishings. Established in 1975, Topnotch offers a unique collection of fine furniture and home furnishings suitable for authentic mountain life. The Topnotch team can assist clients in all phases of interior design – from new construction to remodeling, from a single unique piece of furniture to outfitting an entire house. Their 10,000-square-foot showroom in the heart of downtown Ketchum receives new hand-crafted inventory daily.
When the pandemic hit, many of Topnotch’s clients started investing in their outdoor spaces. They realized with some planning that these areas could be comfortably enjoyed for most of the year. Firepits became must-haves for added warmth and sources of ambient light. “While outdoor living has always been part of design in California, we’re seeing a shift in the mountains toward making more comfortable outdoor spaces,” Arianne says. “Our scenery is beautiful, so it’s rewarding to design spaces that increase enjoyment of life here.”
Outdoor furnishings and fabrics have come a long way and colors, styles, and textures can easily flow from inside to outside. The flat and tight weaves of classic Sunbrella stripes formerly were all that was available. Now, there are nubby chenilles, sophisticated prints, and soft patterns. Arianne says, “The fabrics are so luxurious that I’ve used them inside for clients seeking extra-durability and easy care, such as families with small children, pets, or messy guests.” Cozy pillows and throws add another layer of comfort when the temperature drops on a cool summer night. “We’re seeing hand-stitched outdoor pillows with a level of craftsmanship and embellishment that we’d expect for inside only. That innovation gives us many fun ways to mix different elements and textures,” she adds.
In addition to fabrics, Arianne mentions how the comfort of outdoor furniture has improved as well. Topnotch carries multiple lines of seating that feel like they could be indoor sectionals despite being intended for the outdoors. “I don’t know how they make the cushioning like this, but it’s so comfortable!” she exclaims.
Topnotch’s design embraces all aspects of the mountain lifestyle. Arianne is sensitive to the natural landscape and is enthusiastic about the larger scale that is trending in outdoor design. Chunkier weaves and heavier lines complement rustic mountain architecture. “Small, sleek weaves and minimalist decor work well in cities and in climates like California, but here, we frequently work with aesthetics that include paver flagstone patios or reclaimed wood houses with teak decks – we welcome the thicker basketweaves and oversized chairs,” she says. There are interesting concrete and teak furniture options, as well as recycled poly Adirondack chairs that are another exciting development. They are wire-brushed and feel like barnwood or antique mahogany. She adds, “It’s a look that fits very nicely into the mountains.”
Topnotch’s customers frequently ask whether they can keep their outdoor furniture outside year-round and whether they can purchase covers to protect it. “Yes and yes!” says Arianne. Everything Topnotch carries is selected for its ability to withstand Sun Valley’s cold winters as well as its summers. Customers can expect an enjoyable design process, from space planning to in-person consultations, installation, and delivery. The team readily assists clients to create function and layout in their dream outdoor spaces.
As summer ramps up in Sun Valley, Topnotch is ready to help customers create well-designed spaces that are easy to enjoy, from a living area with a sectional, to a bar area with swivel chairs, to a statement front porch. “We’re active here,” Arianne says. “And at the end of the day, we want to grab a beer, have some chips and guac, and have our friends over. The mountains are not stuffy or formal. Here, we throw our feet up, get a fire going, and start the grill to enjoy connecting with each other.”
“Small, sleek weaves and minimalist decor work well in cities and in climates like California, but here, we frequently work with aesthetics that include paver flagstone patios or reclaimed wood houses with teak decks – we welcome the thicker basketweaves and oversized chairs,”
–Arianne Heyser, Topnotch Fine Furnishings