By: Ronna Braselton

In South Texas this time of the year to most means two things and both are completely unrelated to falling leaves and cooling temperatures. It’s FOOTBALL and DOVE SEASON. For those of us in the design world there is a change that consumes our focus as well. It has everything to do with the relevant cooling of the earth. The two are as intertwined as the aforementioned chasing balls and killin' stuff. This inseparable pair that champions focus for us especially at this time of the year is INSIDE and OUTSIDE. Some of you may wonder, how can these 2 things be as important as the cowboys and my new 20 gauge? If you live here on the Texas Gulf Coast, considering moving or buying a place here, pay attention. One without the other in either of these scenarios makes no sense. The synergy of certain things is indisputable. Ignoring that connection can lead to internal chaos. It can turn your stomach and your home INSIDE OUT and UPSIDE DOWN. 


Living in a coastal area is a lovely thing. However, August on the South Texas coast is enough to melt the coldest frosty beverage in 2.2 seconds leaving most of us fleeing to the indoor air conditioned comfort of our homes. What a sad thought given the sunny days and endless beaches. Walking in the scorching sand however isn't my idea of a good time. Staying inside to avoid the heat stinks. We live here because we like being OUTSIDE not cooped up INSIDE. We want to open the doors. We long to sit on the back patio without sweating and swatting flies. We want to play outside. We want sunshine and a nice breeze. We want it all - it's why we are here! Come on FALL!!


When the temps "plunge" into the 80s for the first time post August the people of South Texas spill forth from their cold air conditioned cocoons in swarms. We break out the logs and pits to ready ourselves for the coming chilly 65 degree evenings. We will be at the beach houses, the hunting camps, the fishing cabins and we WILL be running amok indoors and out. Outdoor living is coming around the bend - are you ready for it? Is your outdoor space ready to become your living room for the next few months? Most of us have the INSIDE of our homes comfortable but what about the OUTSIDE? Do you have a comfortable environment to relax or eat with the family?


When considering this, I'm not talking about making sure you have enough of those pop up chairs from Academy for all of your guests. Nor am I referring to eating your perfectly grilled steaks at the picnic table the neighbors left when you bought the house. Just inside your door sits that unoccupied dining table and chairs which you dropped some serious cash on .In the adjacent living room the dog is comfortably huddled up on that brand new leather sectional all alone. Everyone is outside with nowhere to sit comfortably. For a split second it seems like a really great idea to move that sofa and table out on the porch for the next few months. Don't do it. Just get a crane and get out of that folding chair that has molded to your backside. Get on the horn and find someone who can help you merge the INSIDE OUT.


The concept of merging and planning cohesively from inside out is nothing new in interior design. It's not typically such a literal interpretation as depicted above. I think most good designers look for inspiration for the interior of a home in the outer surroundings. The biggest driving force behind this kind of design is to bring the shelter that we need to protect us from the outdoor elements into harmony with the beauty and boundlessness of what nature offers the senses. If you have the good fortune to live in an area where the sounds and scenery are a virtual playground in your own backyard or within view, then this INSIDE OUT concept is something you should take full advantage of. 



            The upside of living on the Texas Gulf Coast is clear given the weather most of the year. The joy of living bare footed and free running in slow motion down the beach is an image that many people conjure as they dream of someday owning a coastal home. It's a lovely thought. Here comes the downside. The trifecta of terror, the 3 non-amigos, the coastal homeowners 3 most feared foes. SALT, WIND, AND THEIR UGLY SISTER HUMIDITY. These corrosive criminals can rob a family blind. The dreams of frolicking freely quickly start to rust and rot. For anyone who has never experienced this it comes as a sickening surprise. That first fantastic week at your beautiful new beach cottage in July was awesome.  However, when you return for a sure to be second round of fun in the sun Labor Day weekend it's not so fab. You reach for the door handle which comes right off into your hand. The door opens but not in the way you expected it. It falls flat on the floor because the hinges have been eaten away. This all sounds like an exaggeration, but in some areas close to the water this is reality. Even inland outdoor fixtures, hardware, paint, gutters, fences and of course furniture get the major hurt put on them year round here. 


            In order to avoid the downside of what is mostly nothing but upsidedness, do a little research. Call a good designer and/or a knowledgeable contractor who has experience building and designing in coastal areas. There is a lot of bad and misleading information out there when it comes to most everything. This subject is no different.  What is marine grade steel? Why do I need that? What is SUNBRELLA fabric? Is that the best option for me? Is all powder coated aluminum all the same? What in the world is with the recycled milk jug furniture? Is the more expensive building material and furniture the way to go? You have a lot of questions. Or at least you should if you are considering building here or investing in a home and in outdoor furnishings. 


            The whole idea around living in this area or having a vacation home here is about enjoying the outdoors. The downside can be not only a giant pain in a beach bums behind but also a major hit in the pocket area of that same region. Before you drop major funds on the wrong thing call upon the help of those in the know. That beautiful outdoor patio set you fell in love with in the new Restoration Hardware catalogue might be amazing quality, but maybe not for here. Don't spoil your dreamy stay/vacation by feeling like life's a beach in a bad way. Find a professional and plan from the beginning the perfect merger - INSIDE OUT so you don't find yourself UPSIDE down and flat on the floor because your 2 thousand dollar rattan lounge chair just turned to dust when you sat down for that afternoon cold one.