Ins and Outs

Outdoor living fabrics find a home inside too

Savvy buyers and designers are more excited than ever about the possibilities technological innovation in fabrics brings to products and design. A new crop of fabrics are so advanced, the possibilities extend far beyond outdoor cushions.

Even industry insiders can have a tough time distinguishing “outdoor” fabric from interior upholstery. Now it’s time to teach consumers what that can mean for them. For buyers, the education starts at AmericasMart, where a number of top vendors sell product in which the outdoor fabric is a big attraction.


Lloyd Flanders Industries

Characteristics That Matter Lou Rosebrock, senior vice president Sales and Marketing at Lloyd Flanders, suggests buyers should lean heavily toward the most established brands, which includes Sunbrella, Al Fresco and Outdura. “These brands have been produced to offer outdoor customers all the important characteristics, such as durability, light fastness and resistance to mold and mildew,” he says.

Not every fabric marketed as outdoor-safe actually has those characteristics. Susan Ray of Summer Classics says UV protection is particularly crucial. All of its outdoor upholstery is UV-treated Sunbrella fabric. “Sunlight can be so damaging,” says Ray. “But with UV-resistant fabrics, you can put a navy sofa under a window and it doesn’t fade.”



Steve Lowsky, president and CEO of Pride Family Brands, Inc., says there are other performance features buyers should ask about. “Outdoor furniture buyers need to look for durability, stain resistance, abrasion resistance and colorfast qualities,” says Lowsky, whose company produces Castelle outdoor furniture. “Buyers and designers also should take into consideration the depth of original designs and original textures and weaves available to meet the needs of their clientele.”

Learn the Lingo
Gather as much technical information as possible, because much of it can be used to sell customers on a piece or collection of outdoor furniture and accessories. Lowsky suggests asking vendors about the construction of the fabrics, including what type of fiber used. It could be  acrylic, polyester, olefin or polypropylene. He also recommends asking about colorfast hours or abrasion rubs, two characteristics that speak to durability.


Summer Classics

“Knowledge of the differing types of performance fabrics will allow the buyer to design the total furnishing piece or set to meet the requirements of the client’s outdoor space or use plan,” says Lowsky.

Even the terminology, says Rosebrock, can be a useful selling tool. “Many manufacturers that have created fabrics for outdoor use are now marketing their products as ‘performance’ fabrics,” he says. “Any consumer who selects this type of fabric for a high-use area can expect a durable, easily cleaned product.” In fact, homeowners with small children and those with pets are a growing market for furniture with outdoor or “performance” fabrics.

“Outdoor or performance fabrics are perfect for inside,” says Rosebrock. “The durability and cleanability can greatly extend the life of indoor upholstery. And outdoor fabric manufacturers now offer patterns, textures and color palettes in many sophisticated choices.”


Lloyd Flanders Industries

“The tremendous growth in designs, colors, hand or woven styles allow for exterior fabrics to coordinate with interior décor as easily as interior focused textiles,” Lowsky adds.

Bottom line: outdoor fabrics are so soft and fashion-forward now that guests won’t have a clue it could withstand sun and rain. As long as you’ve properly educated your customers on the performance and durability, that can be your little secret.

For more information: Castelle –; Lloyd Flanders –; and Summer

Images courtesy of Pride Family Brands, Lloyd Flanders and Summer Classics.

The Great Outdoors

Consumers are spending for casual living options

Open any shelter magazine or turn on any home improvement show, and you’ll find talk about outdoor spaces. Whether it’s a prospective home buyer looking for the perfect backyard barbecue, a flipper adding some curb appeal or a designer creating usable recreation space for a growing family, Americans are spending more time—and more money—outdoors. Home builders and architects agree, as they face an ever-increasing demand for outdoor rooms and outdoor spaces for entertaining and recreation. Outdoor features are included in nine out of 10 newly constructed homes.

Outdoor FurnitureAs the demand for outdoor living grows, outdoor furniture sales continue to rise. Backed by rebounding home sales, low mortgage rates and rising consumer confidence, 2015 sales were projected to bring in an estimated $6.8 billion dollars, up 4.5 percent from 2014.

Dining sets continue to lead outdoor furniture sales, topping $2 billion last year and accounting for 48 percent of the market share. According to last year’s Casual Living’s Consumer Buying Trends Survey, 4.7 million households said they planned to purchase an outdoor dining set in 2015, with most spending between $100 and $399 for a set. While the majority of consumers look to home improvement centers and discount department stores when purchasing dining sets, furniture stores are seeing a marked increase in sales.

By ProductOne of the fastest growing segments in outdoor furniture is conversation or chat groups—akin to living room furniture for the outdoors—which may include a combination of chairs, love seats, ottomans and occasional tables, with some sets including fire pits. Households with incomes of $150,000 or more are the chief buyers of chat groups, and they are looking for high style and smart design.

Shade products are also experiencing substantial growth. Modern, movable and repositionable options allow for more comfortable outdoor experiences, while also protecting furniture from the harsh rays of the sun. Umbrellas, shade sails, gazebos and other shade items account for nearly $600 million in sales.

Garden oasis every day
Comfort and style shouldn’t be reserved for indoor rooms. Consumers’ continued desire for the same comfort and style outdoors as they demand inside is driving an industry to evolve and grow. As designers and retailers, you can capitalize on that concept year round by shopping The Gardens® floors at AmericasMart both during Markets and in between.

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There’s unlimited potential for home stores, hardware stores, garden centers, even gift stores to capitalize on the popularity of outdoor living. Think of all the potential customers. Families want to enjoy their decks. Empty nesters want a cozy porch to relax. And new homeowners are eager to build their own nest, complete with versatile outdoor entertaining spaces. Whether it’s furnishing a pool house, finding the perfect comfy chairs for a front porch, using a water feature to add life to a space, or building the perfect evening seating group around an outdoor fire pit, there are product lines at AmericasMart to please any client.

Floors 9 and 10 in Building 2 encompass 170,000 square feet of unique space that feature leading casual lifestyles and gardens companies in a one-of-a-kind outdoor living environment. The floor configuration and product mix encourages shopping for an array of high quality visual displays in a relaxed, vibrant atmosphere. During Markets, the floors provide inspiration down each pathway. And the opportunity is
available every day: Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Gardens® staff is always ready to help you find exactly what you need to place orders between Markets.

To learn more, attend What’s in? Going out! Trends for the Ultimate Outdoor Living Spaces presented by Modern Luxury Interiors Atlanta during Fall Design Week featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift, September 19 – 23, 2016. Educational Sponsor: Olliix.

For more information on The Gardens® Open Daily opportunities, visit or call 404.220.2030 to personally speak with a showroom manager.

Images provided by Windham Enterprises, Summer Classics, RATANA and Castelle.

On the Bright Side

It’s a virtual rainbow outdoors with a full spectrum bringing flashes of vivid color to every aspect of the garden. The coming season of product promises to enlighten and enliven any outdoor space with bold color.

Outside the Lines

The modern American backyard is better than ever

Intro section image A-2Between staycations and everyday hustle and bustle, people are savoring the time they get to spend at home. The idea of entertaining friends and enjoying family time extends from bigger kitchens to home theaters to outdoor rooms.

A broader array of products and materials that are more durable – and more stylish – in a wide range of price points, makes it possible for anyone to extend living space into the backyard and do more than just sit in a lawn chair or nap in a hammock.

Outdoor kitchens rival inside counterparts with built-in grills and side burners, refrigerators and large stone countertops. Dining areas can be casual or sophisticated, depending the style of the home and the homeowners. Start with some basic questions to help guide the best options to create the ideal outdoor living space.

  1. How will the space be used? Dining, playing, relaxing or something else. Determining your top priority drives the initial emphasis, especially if the project is done in phases.
  2. How much sun? This dictates the need for umbrellas, gazebos, sunshades, etc. Should they be portable or permanent structures?
  3. Do you have adequate power resources? All the weather proof lamps are fabulous, but you still need power. Same for most water features. But, there are always lots of solar powered options too.
  4. Do you need weatherproof or weather resistant? Learn how fabrics are constructed so you have realistic expectations. The same goes for other products. Withstanding 10 hours of sun and 100 degree temps or eight months of freezing ice and snow will do a number on almost any outdoor product.
  5. A family with small children will obviously have different priorities than empty nesters reviving a love of gardening. Finding the right furniture and accessories to suit their needs will bring smiles year around when they find they’d prefer spending their leisure time at home, in their own backyard.

tab section image A-2 A fire pit provides a comfortable place to dry off after a summer swim or stay warm and roast a few marshmallows in the fall.


intro section image B-2 A round dining set with a built-in Lazy Susan and a neutral umbrella provides an elegant, stylish outdoor eating area.



tab section image C-2Everyone can’t have a backyard pool, but anyone can create a cozy seating area with comfortable chairs.

Find all the outdoor living products you need for any season in The Gardens, Building 2, Floors 9 & 10, during Markets and weekdays between Markets. There’s always a helpful staff member ready to help you find the perfect pieces for your casual living project.



Photo credits: Kipp Burgoyne Photography

Interior Design: Michelle Troxell, Grace Thomas Designs

Editorial credit: Casual Living

Fire It Up This Fall

According to the 2011 Residential Trends survey from the American Society of Landscape Architects, homeowners want functional items that provide them the opportunity to enjoy their backyard as they would any other room in the home. Along with lighting, stereos and Internet access, fire pits were one of the highest ranked items on the list.

Fire pits come in many variations including table-top, wood-burning and gas-powered and can offer the chance to warm your hands (or your food) with your guests.

The Gardens has several showrooms offering both gas and wood-burning fire pits in a variety of styles, sizes and shapes.

For more information, please visit Floors 9 and 10 in Building 2 WestWing, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. or call our general help-line at 404-220-2030.

Don’t Miss the Excitement in Living. Indoor/Outdoor. The Gardens.

GardensFloors 9 & 10 in Building 2 WestWing encompass 170,000 square feet of unique space featuring leading casual lifestyles and garden companies in a one-of-a-kind outdoor living environment. Check out what’s happening in The Gardens this July at AmericasMart Atlanta.


Summer Sips in the Gardens
6-7 p.m.
Cool down in the Gardens with a refreshing summer cocktail while browsing the many product offerings the category has to offer. Complimentary to buyers only, quantities limited.
Building 2 WestWing, Floors 9 & 10


Outdoor Living
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Having previously dabbled in acting, clothing design, and film making, it comes as no surprise that British born Kathryn Ireland has a natural flair for the unexpected. And with all of the color matching, fabric swatches, and careful consideration that go into designing the “perfect space,” Ireland channels her natural, creative eye in order to visualize and bring to fruition some of the most talked about spaces in the design industry. Named by Elle Décor as one of  the top 25 designers in America, Ireland’s designs are as unique and wonderful as her own varied background, and her creativity is accentuated by her desire to create exceptional spaces that are both beautiful to look at and beautiful to live in. Ireland, who has been named by House Beautiful as one of the top 100 designers in the United States (she’s been nominated for ten years and counting), has a passion for interior design as well as for the creativity associated with outdoor entertaining, about which she has written several books. She also has several design showrooms across the globe—including one in LA and in London—and, in one of her newest ventures, she designs beautiful and lavish spaces on Bravo’s new television series, “Million Dollar Decorators.” Come learn from one of the best in the design industry as Kathryn talks about one of her design-related passions—the art of tasteful and gracious outdoor entertaining! A book sale and signing will follow this presentation.
Building 2 WestWing, Floor 10, Seminar Room 10-A-7

Summer Sips in the Gardens
6-7 p.m.
Cool down in the Gardens with a refreshing summer cocktail while browsing the many product offerings the category has to offer. Complimentary to buyers only, quantities limited.
Building 2 WestWing, Floors 9 & 10


Four Seasons Design with Mar Jennings
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Mar Jennings is a man of many talents. And when it comes to creativity, his design solutions certainly have the power to wow an audience. This former gold medal figure skater proves that he’s got what it takes to go for design gold by combining functionality, originality, and a little bit of sass to create unique outdoor spaces that hint at concepts previously only associated with indoor design ( One of America’s top lifestyle experts, Mar’s advice and knowledge about specific, applicable design principles for the home and garden are vast—this is not a lecture to be missed! A book sale and signing of his book “LIFE ON MAR’S: A Four Season Garden” will follow his informative lecture.
Building 2 WestWing, Floor 10, Seminar Room 10-A-7