Interiors that flow effortlessly into outdoor spaces can transform homes into island escapes. Here are style, color and texture tips to get there

In Hawaii, we’re fortunate to be able to enjoy outdoor entertaining all year round. But during the summer, being outdoors is extra special. This week, I’ve got tips for creating an outdoor space that transitions seamlessly from your interior to your exterior.

No matter if you have a smaller home, an apartment with a lanai or a spacious house like this one, it’s always a good idea to extend your interior spaces to the outdoors. The way to do this is to consider your style, colors and textures.

I recently furnished a home in Kahala for a family of five with three very active boys. The Yamamotos’ interior spaces reflect a modern, eclectic island style, so I wanted to carry this theme to the outdoor spaces as well.


Here, they wanted a look that was relaxed and comfortable, but sophisticated enough for entertaining. The backyard of their home was a treat. The backdrop is beautiful — a cliff with great nooks and crannies for the boys to hide in, a swimming pool, lawn and flagstone flooring.

Photo: Justin Dotson

Photo: Justin Dotson

I chose furniture that can withstand some exposure to the weather, made of teak, mango and rose wood. The eclectic touch comes from mixing styles, colors and textures.

Clean, modern lines mix with natural, free-form elements. We increased the style quotient by re-upholstering the lounge furniture with a retro, modern outdoor fabric, whose pattern immediately adds life and energy.

Inside the house, the formal living room had a neutral color palette of creams, chocolate and silvers, with a jolt of citron green. Off the family room, orange is also visible. So, it was an easy choice to carry these colors to the outdoors — warm neutrals with splashes of green, orange and bright, fresh yellow.

Finally, the textures. As I love to say, it’s the layering and repeating of different textures that make a space feel interesting and put-together.


In the backyard, we had a beautiful foundation of flagstone, wood posts and green lawn. The clean lines of the wooden furniture and a rosewood dining table with smooth, free-form edges add to this organic palette.

The area rug set the texture and color palette for the seating area, while the canvas print and boldly patterned fabrics provide visual texture. The rough, warm, reclaimed-wood coffee tables juxtapose with the smooth wood of the other pieces and the cool ceramic stools.

So, the same rule that guides interior design applies to creating an outdoor oasis: You need to consider style, color and texture.

Next week, I’ll finish up the Yamamotos’ backyard with tips about designing for functionality. After all, your patio isn’t just another space — it’s your outdoor living room.

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. reStyle Hawaii, her new-concept furniture and home accents store, is open daily at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit